How Matt Gaetz and Vern Buchanan might deliver Florida’s first-ever U.S. House Speaker

Buchanan Gaetz
A snub may have ignited the firestorm leading to Byron Donalds' bid for Speaker.

On the surface, they don’t have much in common. One is a younger, more bombastic flame-thrower who has basically set the U.S. House of Representatives ablaze. The other is the typically even-tempered business maven whose ability to navigate the legislative process has earned him a reputation as one of the savvier members of Congress.

But together U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz and Vern Buchanan may have collectively charted a path to deliver the first-ever Speaker of the House from Florida.

The McCarthy effect

It all started not with a time or place, but with a name — Kevin McCarthy.

It was just weeks before the 2022 election and Buchanan, one of the most prolific fundraisers in Congress, was hosting McCarthy at his home to help raise money for Florida Republicans, such as now-U.S. Reps. Anna Paulina Luna and Cory Mills. The goal was simple: rally conservative support, take back the majority and inevitably install McCarthy as Speaker of the House.

Little did anyone know at the time that the so-called red wave would turn nationally into a red fizzle, with Florida becoming a major part in delivering Republicans the slim House majority they now (sort of) enjoy.

Florida “screwed”

Florida’s outsized influence on the congressional map would give Gaetz and Buchanan the opening they desired to ensure Florida secured an outsized presence at the leadership table.

Gaetz did this by drawing procedural and legislative concessions from McCarthy while forcing him to endure 15 brutal rounds in his quest for Speaker.

Buchanan accomplished his part by running for Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful legislative panel in Congress.

But that’s when things went off the rails.

In one of the most transparent backstabbings in recent memory, McCarthy turned on Buchanan, costing Florida the opportunity to claim its only committee chairmanship. The blatant snub would be followed by a dust-up on the House floor where Buchanan laid into McCarthy, earning widespread cheers from MAGA influencers and the right flank.

Months later, state Sen. Joe Gruters, one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest backers, would cite McCarthy’s snub in a tweet praising Gaetz for “not giving in to the McCarthy machine that robbed our region of a committee chairmanship.”

Gaetz makes his move

It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Gaetz would make his move to remove McCarthy from his throne.

And that time came the first week of October, nine months after McCarthy first wielded the Speaker’s gavel. Blasting the Speaker for being a “product of a corrupt system” and for “nobody trusting him,” Gaetz, along with seven other House renegades, voted to oust McCarthy from his perch as two heartbeats away from the presidency. The move would send shockwaves not just through Congress, but the country and the world, where wars have broken out in Europe and the Middle East.

So who would take McCarthy’s place?

Bring on the Florida man

The first nominee to receive a vote for Speaker would be Ohio Republican Jim Jordan, an ultraconservative beloved by many in the GOP’s base.

Both Gaetz and Buchanan would support Jordan for Speaker on the first round of voting.

There was one problem though — Jordan lost 20 Republican votes — many of whom said they would never waver.

So that’s when the aforementioned savvy Buchanan offered up an alternative to the Speaker conversation — Florida Congressman Byron Donalds.

Buchanan, the Co-Chair of the Florida congressional delegation, would vote for Donalds in rounds two and three before 112 Republicans would ultimately eliminate Jordan from the Speaker’s competition.

Now Donalds is officially running for Speaker of the House, giving Florida the opportunity to secure the biggest seat at the table, an opportunity that would have never existed if not for the actions of two unlikely Florida Congressmen.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Michael K

    October 23, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    No Congress person who voted to overturn the 2020 election should be allowed anywhere near House leadership. Donalds is not fit to serve as Speaker.

    • Earl Pitts "Florida's Big Voice Om The Right

      October 23, 2023 at 1:40 pm

      Oh No He Diddent !!!!
      Oh yes he did America – Michael K just showed his disgusting Raciest true self. Research indicates that Michael K’s family owned The Honarable Representative Donalds family as slaves back in the day on their cotton plantation.
      For shame Michael K shame on you, your Dook 4 Brains friends too.
      Earl Pitts American

      • Jay Smif

        October 23, 2023 at 2:20 pm

        Earl, you racist, hateful, ignorant drooling cultist, you are a slave to MAGA and a traitor to the nation. Poison is too good for you.

      • Michael K

        October 23, 2023 at 4:17 pm

        I usually choose to ignore the willful stupidity and ignorance of Earl, a bigoted, perverted troll who can neither read nor write.

      • rick whitaker

        October 24, 2023 at 10:09 am


    • Max

      October 23, 2023 at 5:47 pm

      Exactly, and real conservative house members will never approve Trump associates. Gaetz worked with Democrats to oust a Republican Speaker, and he calls other’s RINO?

      Those 8 House Members need to face consequences, this circus benefit no one but Biden and Gaetz stopped McCarthys impeachment hearings on Biden, and the ethics investigation on Gaetz.

    • Duff gordon

      October 24, 2023 at 3:46 am

      You did not see LIVE the outright cheating that night. If MY kids lives were on the line I would say “Fraud”, and I have made my livelihood making financial bets successfully “reading the situation” Hmmm, Trump, NON STOP, filling arenas and Biden , in his dungeon (no Vit D hajha) somehow , a face appears on Fox, A Trump hater, calling Arizona for BIDEN!! WHEN NO OTHER STATISTICIAN would join him. THAT WAS UNETHICAL, trying to get people used to huge swings at the “opportune time” AND the guy was WRONG, as it was basically a dead heat. IT SMELLED! In Philadelphia, the R “watchers could not see “”hmm because of the convenient COVID!. Then comes thew announcement “(in Phila) BREAK TIME as the Repubs assumed the Dems were following- NOPE haha, THe doors LOCKED, Phila’s Finest know the drill well!! They needed everyone inside to using the Phila Inquirer to COVER ALL THE GLASS! !DID YOU SEE IT?? Right at the time when a huge flow of Biden Ballots comes in… I KNOW WHAT I SAW MIKE, I know I would bet anything !! vs the insane idea , that Mr ZILCH, a virtual corpse , won

      • rick whitaker

        October 24, 2023 at 10:15 am

        so you are an election denier. haven’t you heard about the election deniers that plead guilty to a conspiracy to steal the election from my friend joe biden. maga cultist don’t think, they react to the whims of their crazy cult leader. so trump is your hero, good luck with that.


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  • My Take

    October 23, 2023 at 1:34 pm

    A black rightwing Republican . . . an abomination against nature.

    • rick whitaker

      October 24, 2023 at 10:17 am

      is that a true uncle tom? i’ve heard about it, but i haven’t read the book

  • Alexandra Zakhvatayev

    October 23, 2023 at 6:35 pm

    gaetz and vern buchanan all joining together on house spox===== its an absolutely embarrassing article.

    no to donalds
    with love, cd-19

  • PeterH

    October 23, 2023 at 8:54 pm

    Byron Donalds, R-Fla. is a MAGA Trump sock puppet. He is eligible to be Speaker like Jim Jordan is eligible!

  • Ocean Joe

    October 24, 2023 at 7:46 am

    “There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.” May be wishful thinking on the part of Liz Cheney and folks like me, but participating in and propagating Trump’s big lie and fraudulence is disqualifying.
    Florida has gone MAGA so the dishonor just might be forever.

  • rick whitaker

    October 24, 2023 at 10:04 am

    florida’s dishonor will go on for a long time because of one boy, matt gaetz

  • Ed Magowan

    October 24, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Drumph cultists should join their terrorist friends around the world in shouting “Death to America!”. That is their goal…. and they are achieving it.

    • rick whitaker

      October 24, 2023 at 9:23 pm

      lets vote them out, i’m with you

Comments are closed.


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