Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Tulsa’s Hern jumps into speaker race after former Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan is dropped

U.S. Representative Kevin Hern (R, Tulsa) of Oklahoma talks tactics of winning a majority of votes if his bid for speaker of the house is put to a vote. Julia Manipella/Gaylord News

WASHINGTON — Oklahoma Representative Kevin Hern (R, Tulsa) announced Friday that he will once again be reaching for the speaker’s gavel after Rep. Jim Jordan (R, Ohio) was removed as the Republican designate.

This comes just days after Jordan, former leader of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, became the Republican designee by a vote of 124 to 81 over Austin Scott (R, Georgia) during a private meeting on Oct. 13.

Jordan has since failed three times to reach 217 votes on the floor, falling 20 votes short on Tuesday, 22 on Wednesday and 25 on Friday — signaling a gradual decrease in support. Still, the Ohio representative had refused to drop out.

Instead, Jordan on Thursday sought to delay a third floor vote and empower the current pro tempore speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R, N.C.), while he worked to scrounge up enough support to win the gavel himself. His plan, however, was met with opposition from much of the GOP conference during a closed door meeting that afternoon, including from Oklahoma Rep. Josh Brecheen (R, Coalgate), who said he was concerned about the idea of empowering McHenry.

“I’m not interested in coalition government,” Brecheen, a member of the Freedom Caucus who has been an outspoken supporter of Jordan from the beginning, told Gaylord News Thursday.

Republicans, however, have voiced their frustrations about the prolonged speaker’s race and agreed the path forward was unclear.

“I don’t see that there’s any other person that has the ability to lead this conference into unity,” Brecheen told Gaylord News after the vote, saying he was sad to see Jordan fall short once again. “If Jim Jordan is not the key, I don’t know who is.”

Later Friday, the Republican conference met once again behind closed doors where they voted out Jordan as the Republican speaker designee. Hern then stepped up to the plate, announcing his bid for the key role.

This isn’t the first time Hern set his eyes on the gavel. Earlier this month, Hern seemed poised to run for speaker, going so far as to call all 221 members of the Republican conference. Hern ultimately pulled out of the running, believing a three-person race wouldn’t be good for party unity.

“House Republicans must unify — and do it fast,” Hern said Oct. 7 in a statement on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, announcing he would be withdrawing from the speaker race.

Hern echoed this message again Friday when he announced he was once again running for Speaker, only this time he cited himself as a solution to the party division.

“We just had two Speaker Designates go down. We must unify and do it fast,” Hern said in a statement on X Friday afternoon. “I’ve spoken to every member of the conference over the last few weeks. We need a different type of leader who has a proven track record of success, which is why I’m running for Speaker of the House.”

Hern has represented Oklahoma’s 1st congressional district since 2018 and served as chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, a congressional caucus of conservative members of the Republican Party, since 2022.

“(I’m a) newcomer to politics, (but have) 25 years of leading people in a different setting than this. I believe that’s what you’re seeing right now from members of our own conferences, they want something different,” Hern said after the conference Friday. “This doing the same thing and expecting different results is not working. And so why don’t we do something different?”

Some members of the Republican party have already voiced their support for Hern, including Oklahoma Representative Frank Lucas (R, Cheyenne) who said he’s excited to see an Oklahoman running for leadership.

Rep. Don Bacon (R, NE), who in the past has mentioned both Rep. Tom Cole (R, Moore) and Hern as potential candidates for Speaker, has also voiced his support.

“I think (Hern’s) sharp. He’s a very good guy. He’s a good businessman. I think he’s a natural leader. I’m a fan,” Bacon said. “I look forward to Monday night. We’re gonna have a lot of sharp people up there.”

Cole, however, has remained steadfast that he will not be running for the seat, despite his name being thrown out repeatedly for the role and receiving a vote from John James (R, MI) during the floor vote Tuesday. James has since moved his vote to Candice Miller, a former congresswoman and the current public works commissioner of Macomb County, Michigan, and then to Byron Donalds, a representative from Florida.

“Fortunately (James) rethought that decision,” Cole told Gaylord News with a laugh. “I’m back where I belong at zero, so I’m very, very pleased.”

Other Republicans running or considering running for speaker include Majority Whip Tom Emmer of Minnesota, who gained the endorsement on Friday of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R, CA), Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington of Texas and Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, among others, according to The Hill.

Members of the Republican Conference have until Sunday at noon to file as a speaker candidate. A candidate forum will be held Monday, with a speaker election scheduled for Tuesday morning.

As Hern made his way up a staircase after leaving the conference meeting Friday, he answered one last question from Gaylord News: “What’s your message to people who have been watching this back and forth with the Republican Party, especially back home in Oklahoma?”

“Democracy is messy,” Hern called back. “It always will be.”

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more stories by Gaylord News go to


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