Garbarino, D’Esposito, and LaLota Vote Lee Zeldin For House Speaker On Third Ballot, Joined By Molinaro

Photo by Ethan Stark-Miller

Former U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, who lost to Gov. Kathy Hochul in New York’s 2022 gubernatorial race, received three votes for Speaker of the House in the first and second rounds of voting, and received four votes in the third. All three votes in the first two rounds came from Long Island congressmen — Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Andrew Garbarino, and Zeldin’s successor in Congress, Nick LaLota. In the third round, they were joined by Rep. Marc Molinaro, a Republican who represents New York’s 19th congressional district.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) was the Republican Party’s favorite to succeed Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker, but like McCarthy in January, fell short on the first vote count, receiving 200 votes to Democrat Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ 212.

On the second ballot, Jordan received 199 to Jeffries’ 212.

On the third ballot, Jordan received 194 votes to Jeffres’ 210, and withdrew from the speaker race.

Zeldin finished in fourth place overall among Republicans in all three rounds of voting.

Zeldin is not currently in office, but although every House Speaker in U.S. history has been a sitting representative, the Constitution does not explicitly state that the House Speaker must be that.

Embattled Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau/Queens) voted for Jordan.

“Rep. Jim Jordan is an experienced leader who can bring the Republican conference together,” Santos, who continues to rebuff calls to resign while facing federal corruption charges, said as the lone Long Island congressman to back Jordan. “The bulk of the Conference is in favor of Jordan; why pander and add to the confusion when we have been without a speaker for two weeks? Enough with the pandering; let’s get to work.”

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito outlined his logic in voting for Zeldin in a statement.

“I want a Speaker who understands Long Island’s unique needs,” D’Esposito said. “Restoring the SALT deduction, safeguarding 9/11 victim support funding, and investing in critical infrastructure are our priorities. I look forward to discussions with candidates.”

Garbarino largely agreed with this sentiment.

“My constituents sent me to Congress to fight for them and put their interests first,” Garbarino said. “We need a Speaker who understands New York priorities such as funding 9/11 health care, prioritizing disaster and emergency relief, and providing SALT relief to middle-class Long Islanders who are burdened by double taxation. Lee Zeldin understands the needs of Long Islanders better than anyone. He would have been a great governor, and he would make a great Speaker.”

Rep. LaLota did not immediately return a request for comment, but tweeted about why he voted for Zeldin.

“Rather than cast my ballot for a Speaker-Candidate who doesn’t have the votes and hasn’t demonstrated support for SALT for my constituents nor a plan to keep our government open while advancing the Commitment to America, I will cast my first ballot for Speaker for @leezeldin,” LaLota wrote in one tweet on X.

“For two weeks, I’ve met & and talked with candidates for Speaker, telling them what’s important to my district,” LaLota wrote in a second tweet. “I’ve been up front about withholding my support without reliable commitments on these important issues.When I said I’d always put Long Island First, I wasn’t bluffing.”

Following the second vote, LaLota told CNN the House should look at expanding the powers of the interim Speaker, Patrick McHenry.

This is a breaking news story. Keep checking this page for updates.