Last month, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that he would resign from his leadership post, and from Congress altogether, by the end of October. Almost immediately, speculation began to swirl over who would replace Boehner as head of the House of Representatives and third in line for the presidency. Most pundits came to the same conclusion — Kevin McCarthy, current House Majority Leader, would take the role.
This week, McCarthy, facing an insurrection from conservative members of his caucus, announced that he was resigning from the race. This, of course, set off a new round of speculation, with many coming back to one little-known fact: the Speaker of the House doesn’t actually have to be a member of the House.
Several names have been bandied about as potential Speakers, who could at least fill the role on a temporary basis. Here are five of the strangest:
1. Mitt Romney
Former Republican presidential candidate and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney steps in to the ring with five-time heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield at a charity fight night event Friday, May 15, 2015, in Salt Lake City.Photograph by Rick Bowmer — AP
Yes, there are people out there calling for the return of Willard Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor and failed 2012 Republican presidential candidate. Romney’s dance card is mostly open right now, given that he decided not to run for president in 2016. Now, some news outlets are seriously suggesting he may make a go for House Speaker. It is clear why people think he’d be a good choice — he’s mostly a moderate, but has plenty of experience sparring with President Obama from his 2012 run. He also has a reputation for being skilled at fixing messes, based on his rescue of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. But why would Romney would want the gig? Why move to Washington and perform a thankless job for 18 months when you could spend time with your wife and family playing life-size Jenga and whatever other fun activities the Romneys are fond of?
Right now, Trump is a bit busy running for President. And yes, he’s leading in the polls. That hasn’t stopped some from speculating that the House Republicans could convince him to take a different office. There’s a kind of logic to the move. The Republicans want someone to stand up to President Obama. And that is, frankly, what Trump does best. His bluster and brashness are considered potential weaknesses as a potential president, but those qualities could yield the kind of political theater that may work well in a divided legislative branch. The best case for a Trump speakership, though, comes from conservative commentator Stephen Miller:
3. Ted Cruz
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, right, exits the spin room after the Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California on September 16, 2015.Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon — Bloomberg via Getty Images
Cruz, like Trump, is running for President right now. And while he is far from out of the race, his poll numbers aren’t stellar, currently coming in sixth nationally in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. From his position in the Senate, Cruz has been one of the sharpest thorns in John Boehner’s side. He has consistently agitated for a hardline stance against President Obama on issues ranging from the debt ceiling to Planned Parenthood. The speakership would be a perfect platform for him to speak his mind. A Cruz speakership is gaining some traction in the press as well.
4. Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, speaks during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015.Photograph by Daniel Acker — Bloomberg via Getty Images
Newt is back! The veteran Speaker of the House from the Clinton years has said that, if asked, he’d be open to serving again. Gingrich obviously knows how to be a speaker in a divided government. Though the 1990s may have been rife with political confrontation, the Clinton-Gingrich years seem like Candyland compared to today’s gridlock.
5. Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks basketball team, left, and his wife Tiffany Cuban arrive at a state dinner in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the White House in Washington, D.C., on September 25, 2015.Photograph by Andrew Harrer — Bloomberg via Getty Images
This possibility is probably the weirdest. Cuban is most famous for owning the Dallas Mavericks and being one of the sharks on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” but he made his money in software. Cuban tweeted this week that he’d like to be Speaker:
If this fight keeps going much longer, he may even win some support.
Alright, so no one is actually suggesting this but me. But people are making tons of hacky “House of Cards” jokes on Twitter, so Republicans may want to just take the plunge and put Kevin Spacey, who plays fictional speaker Frank Underwood, into a real position. What’s the worst that could happen?