The Margin: Think the Kevin McCarthy House speaker vote is chaotic? Meet Frederick Huntington Gillett and Nathaniel P. Banks

by | Jan 5, 2023 | Stock Market

The third time wasn’t the charm for Kevin McCarthy to be elected the new speaker of the House of Representatives.  Neither was the ninth time, as he kept failing to win the majority vote among his fellow Republicans to become the House’s new leader on Thursday, leading to round after round of ballots. 

This is rather unusual, which is part of why it has sparked so much conversation, trended on Twitter and launched dozens of memes. In fact, the last time that it took multiple ballots to settle a speaker election was a century ago in 1923, when Massachusetts Republican Frederick Huntington Gillett was elected to his third and final term as speaker of the House after nine rounds of voting. That’s according to the House historian, which notes that before the McCarthy voting chaos, there were 14 instances of speaker elections requiring multiple ballots throughout U.S. history, with the other 13 occurring before the Civil War. Read more: Finding the comedy in the Kevin McCarthy speaker drama: ‘This is the best season of CSPAN … ever’ So, who was Gillett?  According to his official House biography, he was born in Westfield, Mass. and graduated from Amherst College before studying law at Harvard. He was elected to the House in 1890 and served three terms as speaker, but it took him nine ballots to be elected for his third term in 1923. And his bio noted that he “was not a candidate for renomination” the following year.  So Gillet pivoted to successfully running for the Senate in 1924, where he served from 1925 through 1931. He then “engaged in literary pursuits” before his death at the age of 83 in 1935.  And McCarthy just made history by passing Gillet’s 9 rounds of voting; the House was setting up a 10th ballet late Thursday afternoon as it failed, once again, to select a leader. In the meantime, salaries are in limbo and taxpayers’ requests are being turned away while the House remains without a speaker. Read more: What happens while there’s no House speaker? Salaries in limbo, taxpayers’ requests turned away. But it could be worse. Even though McCarth …

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