Now that Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has filled the seat that former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) vacated, the race is on to replace the leadership role that he vacated, the House GOP vice chair.
As of Friday, six candidates have begun running for the position, indicating a crowded field consisting of two men and four women.
The vice chair assists with the operations of the House GOP conference, which leads party meetings and is responsible for communicating the party’s message. The vice chair also has a seat on the House GOP Steering Committee, which designates committee assignments.
Traditionally, the vice chair isn’t a major springboard to higher positions and offices, with Johnson marking a rare occurrence in his ascension to speaker. Previous House GOP vice chairs include Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who later moved up to be chair of the House GOP and is now chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), now chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Multiple sources predict that the election for the role will occur sometime after next week, as the House seeks to get back on track following three weeks of near-paralysis.
All six individuals in the running for the position are below.
Rep. Mark Alford (R-MO), a longtime TV news anchor, believes that his experience as a public face qualifies him for the role.
“This role is instrumental in crafting and coordinating our Republican Conference’s message,” Alford wrote in a letter to colleagues. “As a career communicator, with more than 35 years of experience in broadcast media, and more live television exposure than anyone in history, I will bring a unique skillset to the role that would best help advocate for Republican success next fall.”
Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-TX) is a former member of the Trump administration, where she served as regional administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Many of you know I’m a strong voice for priorities that will make our country great. But what you may not know is that I’ve been a fighter my whole life — I was a homeless teen who paid my own way through college (ultimately paying off student debt) before becoming a young mother who fought insurance companies and bureaucratic red tape to get my daughter the surgeries she needed,” Van Duyne wrote in a letter to colleagues announcing her candidacy Wednesday.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) has been highly critical of the Biden administration, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
She laid out six priorities for her candidacy in a letter on Wednesday, including, “Promoting unity and cooperation within our caucus” and to “Ensure that our message is clear and resonates in every corner of the United States”; “Diligently work to advance our legislative priorities”; “Articulate our vision to the American people and help our membership”; “Listen to and support our members in their efforts to serve their constituents”; and “Support our Speaker, Conference Chair and leadership team in serving our party and constituents.”
Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) is the first Iranian American to be elected to Congress and is vice chair of the “pragmatic” Main Street Caucus.
In a letter to colleagues, Bice said it is “important that our message be concise and purposeful” and argued that she is the right person to carry out that job. She vowed to “draft messages that resonate across the scope of our Conference” and provide members with strategic messaging and the tools to connect with constituents.
“Through my years of marketing experience, I know what it takes to communicate a vision,” Bice wrote.
Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) is the former lieutenant governor of Minnesota, and president of the Minnesota Senate before that.
“As President of the Minnesota Senate with a one-seat majority, I learned how to govern with no room for error,” Fischbach said in a letter to colleagues announcing her candidacy. “We find ourselves in a similar situation in the 118th Congress.”
“My top priority will be to provide a dedicated outlet for all Members to chair their thoughts and opinions. I’ll work to support Conference Chairwoman Stefanik and our entire leadership team, ensuring that our Republican message remains unified and in service of our constituents,” she wrote.
Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) is the last candidate. A four-term congressman, Mast is an Army veteran who lost both legs while attempting to defuse a bomb in Afghanistan. Mast made headlines several weeks ago after he wore an Israeli military uniform to his office.
Mast sent a video to House GOP members Thursday asking them to not pledge their support to anyone before the candidate forum.
“We just spent the last 20 days fighting about how to be better, how to be a different conference, not having backroom deals,” Mast said in the video. “And to me, if I asked you to pledge your support before you hear everybody out — the good ideas, the bad ideas — that is the definition of backroom, and it’s not what’s best for our conference. Let’s be the best that we can be.”
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