Byron Donalds loses bid for Speaker nomination to Mike Johnson

That's the second time the votes failed to go his way in a day. But it's unclear whether the caucus will nominate Johnson on the floor.

U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds lost the latest GOP Conference battle for a House Speaker nominee.

The Naples Republican on a third ballot for Speaker came in behind Rep. Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican and Vice Chair of the House GOP Conference. But he also finished behind former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who hadn’t announced himself as a candidate but had supporters suddenly rally for his reinstatement.

History has shown this may not be the end of the road for Donalds, a Naples Republican who would be the first Black House Speaker and the first from Florida. But the chaotic mid-Congress selection of a new Speaker has proven unpredictable even for longtime observers of the political process.

The Republican caucus will meet again Wednesday morning to try and determine if Johnson has broad enough strength to be nominated on the House floor.

On Tuesday evening, more than 30 House members refused to support any of the five declared candidates in the running for Speaker.

Earlier in the day, Donalds came in third place on four consecutive ballots behind Majority Whip Tom Emmer and Johnson. Rather than be eliminated on a fifth ballot, Donalds dropped out, and Emmer won the race on a last vote. But at that point, 25 GOP Conference members, including U.S. Reps. Cory Mills and Greg Steube of Florida said they could not back Emmer on the floor.

Shortly after that, former President Donald Trump posted on Truth Social that he did not trust Emmer. “He never respected the Power of a Trump Endorsement,” Trump wrote.

Within two hours, Emmer dropped out of the race.

Emmer was the fourth candidate this year to win the GOP Conference vote for Speaker. The fractious caucus elected McCarthy, who became Speaker in January only after 15 ballots and a contentious battle on the floor.

Earlier this month, McCarthy was ousted from that role after U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach, made a motion to vacate the Speakership. It took only eight GOP defections voting with all House Democrats to seize McCarthy’s gavel.

Later, the conference voted to elevate Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who narrowly beat House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan. But Jordan supporters questioned if Scalise had strong enough support. Trump weighed in then as well, questioning Scalise’s health. Scalise dropped out, and the conference nominated Jordan instead.

Jordan went to the House floor but lost on three consecutive ballots, his vote count declining each time. On Friday, the GOP Conference voted to dump Jordan as the nominee and a new contest began. That elected Emmer, and later Johnson.

But the conference still shows little consensus. Johnson won by a landslide 128 votes, more than the 117 Emmer received on a final ballot earlier in the day. But that number remains far short of the 217 required to clinch the Speaker’s gavel in a floor vote and far less than the 212 votes House Democrats expect to cast for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

On a first ballot Tuesday night, a total of 31 members voted for a candidate other than the four announced, and another two members just voted present. Combined, those protest votes exceeded the 32 votes received by Donalds on a first and second ballot.

The extraordinary number of votes for unannounced candidates prompted a motion after the second ballot to disclose who received votes, and tabulators revealed 33 votes for McCarthy and one for Jordan.

What happens now? The conference will weigh whether to go to the floor and nominate Johnson there but run the risk of another vote where no candidate receives a majority.

Should the caucus dump Johnson, Donalds would be a clear option to nominate next. But there’s little indication now of what it might take for any candidate to reach the vote totals demanded by conference members before bringing a candidate to the floor.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • PeterH

    October 25, 2023 at 12:15 am

    House Republicans have now voted for Mike Johnson to drive the House Klown Kar Speakership. He’s another Trump deplorable traitor who signed a brief claiming the 2020 election was a fraud.

    Republicans are America’s worst enemy!

    Vote all republicans out of office!

  • Michael K

    October 25, 2023 at 12:44 am

    Let this sink in: Those who voted to accept state-certified election results, per the US Constitution, are considered ineligible to serve as House Speaker.

    Trumpism is a cancer destroying our democracy.

  • philip mccrack

    October 25, 2023 at 1:40 am

    Donalds would have to double his intelligence to be retarded. You think all those white boys in the GOP would listen to a brother? He must be an idiot.

  • George Navarini

    October 25, 2023 at 1:47 am

    Trial attorneys say never ask a question in open court if you don’t already know the answer, and the same can be said for the realpolitik of working within a legislative body.

    While many can agree that McCarthy did not live up to his overreaching promises to gain the gavel, the question remains whether he reached his “sell-by” date.

    The problem here is simple and painful. In his short-sightedness, Matt Gaetz did not do his homework and had the votes for a replacement Speaker lined up when he pulled the trigger, resulting in McCarthy’s ignoble ouster.

    As one of the seven habits of successful people, Covey taught us to always start with the end in mind.

    In this, Matt Gaetz failed miserably and, in so doing, created a more significant failure for the party and, in hindsight, may even put the Republic in peril.

    We remain far from certain on how this may end, but for now, Matt Gaetz has weakened the party and tarnished his already questionable personal brand. If he had any ambitions of higher office, such as the Florida Governor in 2026, that ended with the same smirk he had when McCarthy lost gavel.

    Floridians, in general, and Republican mega-donors, in particular, will not soon forget who brought us to the current impasse and the petty, personal reasons behind it.

    This is not the stuff leaders are made from.

    • JustheFacts

      October 25, 2023 at 7:33 am

      While Gaetz certainly instigated this turmoil; it falls at Kevin McCarthy’s feet for a couple of reasons. McCarthy agreed to the demand of the minimal vote to vacate (because KM wanted the power of the gavel) , McCarthy was not supposed to do CR’s but balance the budget and McCarthy would not roll back the budget to precovid levels of spending. A no brainer.

      If McCarthy was actually representing ‘we the people’ and taxpayer monies this would have never happened. This battle as ugly as it was was about principle. McCarthy wounds were self-inflicted. No more business as usual in the Swamp.

  • rick whitaker

    October 25, 2023 at 7:52 am

    it sounds like the maga cultist are stuck in their own mud ( shit ).

Comments are closed.


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