Who Will Be the Next Speaker?

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Everyone thought it would be Kevin McCarthy.

But the four-term congressman and second-ranking Republican in the House surprised everyone on Thursday by dropping out of the race to succeed John Boehner. The House Freedom Caucus, a group of the chamber’s conservative hard-liners, announced Wednesday it would support Representative Daniel Webster of Florida for speaker, casting doubt on whether McCarthy could get the 218 floor votes he would have needed to be elected later this month.

McCarthy, the immediate favorite for speaker, reportedly told members that he’s “not the right person” for the job.

So, who is?

Definitely not Paul Ryan. Maybe Jason Chaffetz, who, like Webster, was considered a long shot just days ago.

Thankfully, Twitter has ideas. They’re not all that far-fetched, either:  The Constitution actually does not require the speaker to be a member of the House.