|Chair of the Republican Study Committee|
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2023
|Preceded by||Jim Banks|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Oklahoma's 1st district
|Assumed office |
November 13, 2018
|Preceded by||Jim Bridenstine|
|Born||December 4, 1961|
Belton, Missouri, U.S.
|Education||Arkansas Tech University (BS)|
Georgia Institute of Technology
University of Arkansas, Little Rock (MBA)
Kevin Ray Hern (born December 4, 1961) is an American businessman and politician from Oklahoma. A Republican, he is a member of the United States House of Representatives for Oklahoma's 1st congressional district. The chair of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative Republicans in the House, Hern was first elected in 2018. In the 2023 Speaker of the House of Representatives election, Hern was nominated for Speaker of the House as a protest candidate against Kevin McCarthy.
Born on an Air Force base in Missouri, Hern moved to Pope County with his mother, Freda Flansburg, and younger brother after his parents separated. He graduated from Dover High School in 1980 and Arkansas Tech University in 1986 before working at Rockwell International while pursuing a PhD in astronautical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He left his degree program without finishing after the Challenger disaster in 1986.
Hern received his MBA from University of Arkansas, Little Rock, in 1999.
In 1987, Hern moved to Arkansas and went to work for McDonald's; within a few years, he was an operations manager for several McDonald's franchises in the Little Rock area. In January 1997, he bought his first McDonald's, in North Little Rock. He sold that franchise in 1999 to move to Muskogee, Oklahoma, where he bought two franchises. He expanded his business to 18 franchises in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area. In 2018, during his first campaign for office, The Frontier coined the nickname "McCongressman" for Hern in reference to his McDonald's franchises. The nickname was subsequently picked up by other outlets after his election. He sold his last McDonald's franchise in 2021.
In addition to his restaurant holdings, Hern started a number of other business enterprises in Oklahoma, including a hog farm, a community bank, and several high-school sports publications. In 2019, he owned a company that manufactured decor and furniture for some of the largest U.S. fast-food restaurant companies and had assets worth between $38.7 million and $92.9 million.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hern's KTAK Corporation received between $1 million and $2 million in federally backed small business loans from American Bank and Trust as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. KTAK stated it would retain 220 jobs. The loan was seen as notable since Hern is a vocal opponent of deficit spending; in 2018, discussing a balanced budget, he said, "While there is no easy fix to this, the first step is clear: stop adding to it." In 2020, he said, "This isn't a bailout. It's a repayment of what the government has taken away from American workers and businesses." KTAK operates franchises. During the Paycheck Protection Program negotiations, Hern pushed to increase the amount of aid going to franchises. Hern was ranked number 7 in the United States House of Representatives by total number of stock trades while in office between January 2020 and January 2022 and violated the STOCK Act in 2021.
After Jim Bridenstine resigned from the United States House of Representatives in 2018 to become administrator of NASA, Hern ran to succeed him in Oklahoma's 1st congressional district in the 2018 elections. Hern advanced to the runoff, where he defeated Tim Harris. He then advanced to the general election, where he defeated Democratic nominee Tim Gilpin. Outgoing Governor Mary Fallin then appointed Hern to serve the rest of Bridenstine's third term. She was able to do so because under Oklahoma law, if a House seat falls vacant in an even-numbered year and the incumbent's term is due to end the following year, the governor can appoint someone to serve the remainder of the term. Accordingly, Hern was sworn into the House on November 13.
Hern defeated Democratic nominee Kojo Asamoa-Caesar and Independent Evelyn L. Rogers in the November 2020 general election.
Hern ran for a third term in 2022, despite speculation that he might run for the open Senate seat being vacated by Jim Inhofe. Hern defeated Democratic nominee Adam Martin and Independent Evelyn L. Rogers in the November general election.
In December 2020, Hern was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives to sign an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden prevailed over incumbent Donald Trump. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of an election held by another state.
Hern voted against the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, which authorizes DHS to nearly double the available H-2B visas for the remainder of FY 2020.
Hern voted against the Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 1158), which effectively prohibits Immigration and Customs Enforcement from cooperating with the Department of Health and Human Services to detain or remove illegal alien sponsors of Unaccompanied Alien Children.
Hern sponsored H.R. 6202, the American Tech Workforce Act of 2021, introduced by Representative Jim Banks. The legislation would establish a wage floor for the high-skill H-1B visa program, thereby significantly reducing employer dependence on the program. The bill would also eliminate the Optional Practical Training program that allows foreign graduates to stay and work in the United States.
In July 2021, Hern voted against the bipartisan ALLIES Act, which would increase by 8,000 the number of special immigrant visas for Afghan allies of the U.S. military during its invasion of Afghanistan, while also reducing some application requirements that caused long application backlogs; the bill passed in the House 407–16.
In 2022, Hern was one of 39 Republicans to vote for the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022, an antitrust package that would crack down on corporations for anti-competitive behavior.
On the eighth ballot of the 2023 Speaker of the House of Representatives election, Hern received two votes, from Representative Lauren Boebert and Representative Josh Brecheen. Hern himself voted for Kevin McCarthy. He was officially nominated by Boebert on the ninth ballot and received three votes. He was again nominated by Boebert on the tenth ballot, and received seven votes. On the 11th ballot, Representative Bob Good of Virginia nominated Hern and he received seven votes. After the votes, Hern told The Frontier he was not ruling out a run for the Speakership and he would "think and pray about [it] before deciding." The next day, Kevin McCarthy secured the votes to win the election.
Hern was among the 71 Republicans who voted against final passage of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 in the House.
In 2023, Hern was among 47 Republicans to vote in favor of H.Con.Res. 21 which directed President Joe Biden to remove U.S. troops from Syria within 180 days.
Hern has called current welfare spending "tragic". He is a strong supporter of work requirements for welfare programs and credits his support of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to its work requirement.
|Republican||Kevin Hern (incumbent)||213,700||63.70|
|Independent||Evelyn L. Rogers||12,130||3.62|
|Republican||Kevin Hern (incumbent)||142,800||61.16|
Hern and his wife, Tammy, have three children and two grandchildren. It is his second marriage.
Hern is Protestant.
As we enter the 11th ballot, we're not done with speaker nominations yet. Bob Good of Virginia, after a long wind-up speech, is putting forward Kevin Hern as a candidate.