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October 13, 2023 01:00 PM UTC

Austin Scott Has Entered the Arena! Wait, Who?

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: Rep. Jim Jordan defeated Rep. Austin Scott in an internal Republican vote, though more than 50 Republicans voted for “not Jim Jordan.” With no path for Jordan — or anyone — to receive the 217 votes needed on the House Floor, Republicans decided to adjourn for the weekend and send everyone home.


Georgia Republican Rep. Austin Scott, apparently.

Congressional Republicans have now wasted more than two weeks trying to figure out who they can put forward as a candidate for Speaker of the House after ousting Kevin McCarthy in early October. They’re trying again to solve this problem today, but you’d be a fool to bet that something might actually get done.

On Tuesday, Reps. Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan participated in a debate forum of sorts behind closed doors in the Republican caucus. Scalise received the most votes from his fellow Republicans, but there was enough opposition — including from Rep. Lauren Boebert, who has pledged her fealty to Jordan — that Republicans couldn’t go to a House Floor vote without risking another public embarrassment like the 15-ballot disaster that elected McCarthy in January. Late last night, Scalise formally withdrew his name for consideration as House Speaker (which, amusingly, happened not long after Colorado Rep. Ken Buck announced his support for Scalise), which seemingly left Jordan as the only person left who wanted the job.

But as The Washington Post reports, a new contender has emerged:

House Republicans are holdilng a closed-door forum Friday afternoon at which they’ll hear from at least two candidates for speaker: Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Austin Scott (Ga.). The conference is scrambling to find a nominee after Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) dropped out of the race Thursday night as he struggled to round up the necessary 217 votes to get elected by the full chamber. It’s unclear when a vote for speaker could take place on the House floor.

And now you know why “Who in the hell is Austin Scott” is one of the more popular search questions on Google today. 

[mantra-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”60%”]“The House GOP has entered an angrier and more bewildered phase in its leadership crisis.”

— POLITICO (10/13/23)[/mantra-pullquote]

As The New York Times reports:

A little-known Republican emerged on Friday to challenge Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio in the raucous party feud over selecting a new speaker, underscoring the divisions that have left the House leaderless and paralyzed for more than a week.

Representative Austin Scott of Georgia, a mainstream conservative and ally of the ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, said he would seek the nomination. He effectively was putting himself forward as a protest candidate against Mr. Jordan, a hard-right Republican who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The surprise move promised to prolong the infighting that has raged among Republicans since a hard-right faction of Mr. Jordan’s supporters forced out Mr. McCarthy last week and then refused to back the party’s chosen successor, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, for the post.

Mr. Jordan, the co-founder of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus and a favorite of former President Donald J. Trump’s, was pressing to smooth over Republican divisions and emerge as a consensus choice.

Nothing says “I am a terrible candidate” like an enthusiastic endorsement from Lauren Boebert.

It would appear at first glance that Scott is running for Speaker of the House not because it’s something he is particularly enthusiastic about, but because he — like much of America — is terrified of handing any control to Jordan. Admittedly, “I’m not Jim Jordan” is a pretty compelling platform for any sort of elected office.

Scott was angry about the “Gaetz 8” who voted to oust McCarthy (Buck was in that group), and at least seems like a fairly reasonable person when it comes to The Big Lie; he was one of the few Republicans in the House to certify President Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, saying at the time that “Congress does not have the Constitutional authority to overturn a state’s electoral votes.”

As Rueters reports today, there is no obvious end in sight for Republicans:

As party lawmakers gathered for a closed-door meeting to hear from candidates, some said their problems ran deeper than a simple lack of leadership.

“There’s a lack of trust. There’s a lack of transparency,” said Representative Kat Cammack. “That’s what we need to address before we can even really get to the speaker.”

Republicans appear to have at least formed a consensus about the fact that they are an ungovernable circus of fools. This headline today from TIME magazine sums up the whole game:

In 10th Day Without a Speaker, House Republicans See No End in Sight 

Or, as The Washington Post explains in a separate story:

Every day that goes by, the situation becomes more embarrassing for House Republicans.

This would all be hilarious if not for the fact that the rest of America needs Republicans to get their act together so that Congress can, you know, function. Voters would be wise to remember this when going to the polls again one year from now.


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