As the saying goes, “Out with the old and in with the new.” However, one thing has remained constant in Washington D.C., and that is Italian-Americans holding the position of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Following the removal of Speaker Kevin McCarthy which represents the third-shortest tenure in American history, Mike Johnson of Louisiana’s 4th district was elected to take his place. While these men differ greatly in terms of their experience on the job, with McCarthy boasting sixteen years in the House of Representatives compared to less than seven years for Johnson, the one thing they do have in common is their Italian ancestry.
His last name may not be a clear indicator of this, but Johnson has previously touched on his heritage during an interview with Politico, stating that “while I am stuck with one of the most common names in America, my lineage has a lot more flair. My maternal grandfather, for example, was a Sicilian immigrant with the glorious name of Nunzio Messina. I take great pride in that rich Italian heritage.”
With Johnson’s assumption of the speakership on October 25th, he officially became the third consecutive Speaker of the House of Italian descent as Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi also have Italian roots. McCarthy’s maternal grandfather was an immigrant who came from Italy to the US through Ellis Island in 1921. As for Pelosi, both of her parents trace their roots back to Italy from regions such as Molise, Liguria, Veneto, and Abruzzo. She also grew up in Baltimore’s Little Italy before becoming the first Italian-American Speaker of the United States.
Mike Johnson is not only the third straight politician to hold the position with Italian lineage, but is also the first from the Pelican State and the speaker with the shortest length of service in the House since John G. Carlisle in 1883. While it remains to be seen how far an Italian-American is from being elected President of the United States, the ethnic group will continue to have representation in the capacity of Speaker of the House as we have for a good part of the 21st century.