Within hours of Representative Kevin McCarthy’s removal as speaker of the House, the race among Republicans to succeed him was on.
The No. 2 House Republican, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, has begun working the phones to shore up support for the job, as has a well-known conservative, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Representative Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, has also been making calls expressing interest in the post.
There are several other names in the mix, including Representative Patrick T. McHenry, the bowtie-wearing policy wonk from North Carolina who is serving as the interim speaker, whom some Republicans are trying to draft. And some far-right lawmakers have promised to nominate former President Donald J. Trump, as a speaker does not have to be a member of the House of Representatives.
Here’s a look at the current top contenders:
Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana
As the House majority leader, Mr. Scalise, 57, is the favorite among many House Republicans to succeed Mr. McCarthy.
Mr. Scalise, the former leader of the Republican Study Committee, is considered more conservative than Mr. McCarthy, with whom he had a somewhat icy relationship. And he is already lining up some powerful support. Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the Republican whip, has thrown his backing behind Mr. Scalise, according to people familiar with the matter, and is hoping to take the No. 2 spot himself.
But Mr. Scalise, who has served in Congress since 2008, faces some challenges. He was diagnosed with blood cancer over the summer and is now undergoing intense treatment, which has prompted him to wear a mask to vote on the House floor and attend news conferences. And in 2017, during a practice for a congressional baseball game, an anti-Trump extremist shot and seriously wounded Mr. Scalise. He still walks with a limp from the incident.
He also apologized in 2014 for having spoken in 2002 at a gathering of white nationalists, saying he would not have attended had he been better informed about the group. A Louisiana-based political reporter later said Mr. Scalise had once described himself to her as “like David Duke without the baggage,” referring to the former Klansman and white supremacist who was also a Louisiana politician.
Still, Mr. Scalise has support from some mainstream Republicans. Hours after Mr. McCarthy’s ouster, Representative Tony Gonzales of Texas posted a statement on social media in favor of Mr. Scalise.
“For a time such as this…Steve is the right man to lead our country,” he wrote.
Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio
Mr. Jordan, 59, is considered one of the original hard-line conservative members of Congress. A thorn in the side of previous speakers, Mr. Jordan is a co-founder of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus and mentored many of its younger, rowdier members.
But Mr. Jordan, who has been in Congress since 2007, has also risen in the leadership ranks in recent years, becoming allies with Mr. McCarthy and being named the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Mr. Jordan is a close ally of Mr. Trump with whom he speaks frequently. He has been Mr. Trump’s leading defender on Capitol Hill, using his committee to attempt to intervene in the various legal cases against the former president.
A wrestling champion in his younger days, Mr. Jordan has also been dogged by accusations he turned a blind eye to complaints of sexual abuse committed by a doctor at Ohio State University decades ago. Mr. Jordan has denied those accusations.
Right-wing members of Congress quickly announced their support for Mr. Jordan.
Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican with a libertarian streak, called Mr. Jordan his “first choice.” Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, who led the campaign to oust Mr. McCarthy, wrote on the social media platform X, “My mentor Jim Jordan would be great!”
Mr. Jordan attended a lunch with several members of the Texas G.O.P. delegation on Wednesday morning, where he pitched them on his candidacy.
“I think I can unite the conservative base and the party and the conference,” he said. “That’s why I’m running,”
Representative Kevin Hern of Oklahoma
Mr. Hern, 61, has been in Congress since 2018 and is the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.
A wealthy businessman, he started his career by running several McDonald’s franchises.
He quickly began making calls to gauge support for his candidacy after Mr. McCarthy’s ouster and made a case for himself on Newsmax. He said the American people “want real results, and I believe I could deliver those if the people up here want to put me in that place.”
He could face an uphill race, however, against better-known contenders such as Mr. Scalise and Mr. Jordan.
Mr. Hern would not definitively confirm that he was running on Wednesday, but he said that “people have been asking me about a different face, somebody that’s got a different set of experiences” than the others who have already thrown themselves into the race.
“So we’re going to speak to that and see how that resonates,” he said.