Republicans nominate Mike Johnson for House speaker after Tom Emmer drops out of race

Tom Emmer drops out of House speaker race

Tom Emmer drops out of House speaker race

House Republicans chose Rep. Mike Johnson as their latest nominee for House speaker, hours after an earlier pick, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, abruptly withdrew in the face of opposition from Donald Trump and hardline GOP lawmakers.

Johnson of Louisiana is a member of House GOP leadership, a lawyer specializing in constitutional issues who had rallied Republicans around Trump’s legal effort to overturn the 2020 election results.

With the House now in its third week without a speaker, Republicans are meeting late into the evening behind closed doors, desperate to find a way out of the chaos they created by ousting Kevin McCarthy at the start of the month.

Republicans spent Tuesday morning holding five internal elections to narrow down the list of candidates who decided over the weekend to seek the speakership.

Emmer, Minnesota’s 6th District representative, came out on top in that behind-the-scenes balloting, topping Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson on the final vote, Rep. Elise Stefanik, the chairperson of the House Republican conference, confirmed.

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the role on Oct. 3 in a stunning move, tossing the chamber into chaos. Since then, Republicans haven’t been able to unite around a replacement, as Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise quickly withdrew after lacking support before Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan unsuccessfully sought the speakership three times last week. After failing to win enough support on Friday, the party announced plans to seek a new nominee.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reported Friday afternoon that Emmer, Minnesota’s 6th District representative and the current House GOP whip, would seek the speakership.

He then posted a statement confirming his run on Saturday, saying in part, “Our Conference remains at a crossroads and the deck is stacked against us. We have no choice but to fight like hell to hold on to our House Majority and deliver on our conservative agenda. Having had the privilege of getting to know all of you as your NRCC Chair and as your Majority Whip, I know we are still ready for that fight.”

Emmer is currently in his fifth term after first being sworn into the House in 2015. In addition to serving as whip, the No. 3 position in the House Republican conference, he’s also on the House Financial Services Committee.

The speaker acts as the leader of the House and is behind only the vice president in the line to the presidency, and a Minnesota congressman has never held that position or the House majority leader role.

Emmer appeared to have the chance to become the first from the state to fill the top position in the caucus but it soon became clear that he wouldn’t have enough support from GOP colleagues for the gavel.

Emmer reversed course after Donald Trump objected to his nomination and hardliners in the House denied the Minnesota Republican the votes he would need for the gavel, Republican sources familiar with the situation who were granted anonymity to discuss it told the Associated Press.

Republican Political Analyst Brian McClung believes Trump’s criticism solidified the opposition to Emmer.

“There’s roughly 20 Republicans who have opposed everyone who’s run for speaker from Kevin McCarthy to now,” said McClung. “The problem now is that this isn’t really about finding the best person to govern the House of Representatives, this is about a bunch of internal complaints and rifts that have developed over the years.”

He argues Emmer would’ve made a strong speaker candidate because he’s been tasked with unifying Republicans to pass legislation to advance conservative issues as Majority Whip. Emmer also previously served as the National Republic Congressional Committee chair, raising money and recruiting candidates, which helped the GOP take control of the House.

“But for some of the hardcore conservatives, anybody who was in leadership was suspect by definition,” said McClung.

“I always thought that Tom Emmer was the perfect compromise candidate if people were willing to compromise and that’s the problem right now,” added David Schultz, a Hamline University political science professor. “It’s a badly divided party at this point in terms of ideology, they don’t agree on an agenda, there’s very little they can agree on.”

According to Schultz, Minnesota would’ve benefitted from Emmer becoming Speaker of the House.

“It would be a great thing for the state of Minnesota, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, to have somebody who would be the highest ranking person in the U.S. Congress,” he said. “In terms of reputation, in terms of potentially the money it would bring to the state of Minnesota.”

McClung said the hold-up could also hurt the Republican Party as it prepares for the high-stakes election in 2024.

“What little trust they had with the American people before this is being annihilated and so if they are going to maintain a majority and elect Republicans next November, they’re going to have to figure out in short order they need to at least prove they can elect a Speaker of the House,” said McClung.

At a critically important time, with a government shutdown looming and billions of dollars in aid requested for Ukraine and Israel, the caucus appears to be back at square one and no closer to resolving the chaos than it was three weeks ago.

Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer drops out from speaker’s race hours after nomination

Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer drops out from speaker’s race hours after nomination