Twenty-two days. Fourteen candidates. Four nominees. Three floor votes (and counting).

Could House Republicans finally be on the cusp of a breakthrough in their search for a speaker?

It sure feels that way: Late Tuesday night, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) became the latest GOP conference nominee, and this time there was no backbiting, no ultimatums, no snarky comments to reporters — just cheers and an overwhelming sense of relief.

It’s not over yet. Three lawmakers voted “present” during a roll-call poll of the conference, and 22 GOP lawmakers were absent, so it’s possible there might be a decisive handful of “Never Mikes” hiding out there.

But the lack of vocal opposition and surfeit of genuine enthusiasm that was aired last night on opposing sides of the House GOP marked a significant shift after three weeks of chaos.

“Mike is … a straightforward leader who can unite us as Republicans!” wrote Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), one of a handful of centrists who engaged in hard-line tactics as the search played out.

Johnson is “the right guy at the right time,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a conservative firebrand who pushed hard in the other direction, per CBS. “He’s got his pulse, I think on where the American people are.”

Said Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as speaker then helped block Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) from replacing him, last night on CNN: “I think he gets it tomorrow.”

Johnson wasn’t anyone’s first choice — far from it. On the first ballot Tuesday morning, he garnered only 34 votes.

But it turns out Johnson doesn’t have nearly as many enemies as some of his higher-profile colleagues. And, much to his benefit, Republicans decided — after the sudden, Donald Trump-assisted termination of Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s speaker candidacy yesterday — that they’re sick and tired of looking like total fools.

“Democracy is messy sometimes, but … this Republican majority is united,” Johnson asserted just before 11 p.m., surrounded by rowdy and relieved colleagues. Republicans would be “ready to govern,” he promised, running the House “like a well-oiled machine.”

Barring a surprise rebellion, Johnson’s ascension saves the House GOP from a parade of unorthodox and borderline unworkable alternatives.

Should he secure the needed votes Wednesday at an expected noon floor vote, out will go such ideas as empowering a caretaker speaker pro tempore, forging a bipartisan governing coalition with Democrats, or — in one fanciful brainstorm bandied about yesterday evening, per NBC — a power-sharing arrangement between McCarthy and Jordan.

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