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The Controversial Race for House Speaker Among Republicans: Tom Emmer’s Rise and Fall

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The race for House speaker among Republicans has been a contentious and closely watched affair. Tom Emmer, a 62-year-old representative from Minnesota, emerged as one of the leading candidates in the race.[0] As the highest-ranking Republican in the speaker race and with an endorsement from former House speaker Representative Kevin McCarthy, Emmer was seen as a strong contender for the position.[1]

Emmer has been a member of the House of Representatives since 2015 and is currently serving his fifth term.[1] He has held the position of the No. 3 Republican in the House, which involves counting votes and rallying support for the speaker's agenda. His experience and influence within the Republican Party made him a formidable candidate.

However, Emmer faced challenges and antagonism from former President Donald Trump's orbit during the speaker race.[2] Despite being a clear Trump supporter in the 2016 and 2020 elections, Emmer came under fire from Trump allies on social media. The former president and his allies reportedly took issue with Emmer's lack of endorsement for Trump's 2024 presidential campaign. The tensions between Emmer and Trump's orbit were further fueled by Rep. Jim Banks, who ran against Emmer for whip last year.[3]

Emmer's allies tried to counter the anti-Trump narrative by highlighting his support for Trump's previous campaigns and his conservative voting record. Emmer voted against impeaching Trump in 2019 and 2021 and publicly thanked Trump for his recent comments about him.[2] However, some within the Republican Party accused Emmer of not being a true conservative due to his votes to uphold the 2020 election result, codify same-sex marriage rights, and provide aid to Ukraine.[4]

Despite his initial success in securing the nomination for speaker, Emmer ultimately dropped out of the race.[5] After becoming the nominee, it became apparent that he did not have enough support within the Republican conference to secure the necessary votes on the House floor. In a non-secret roll call vote, 26 members stated they would vote against Emmer in a floor vote, making it nearly impossible for him to reach the required 217 votes.[6]

With Emmer out of the race, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana emerged as the new frontrunner for the Republican nomination.[4] Johnson, the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, previously lost to Emmer in the nomination vote but garnered significant support in subsequent rounds.[7] Johnson's nomination is expected to receive a full vote in the House, which will determine the next House speaker.[8]

The speaker race among Republicans has highlighted divisions within the party and the challenges of rallying support in a closely divided House. With a November 17 deadline to avoid a government shutdown, Republicans are under pressure to select a speaker who can garner enough support to lead the party and pass key legislation. The outcome of the speaker race will have significant implications for the Republican Party's future direction and its ability to govern effectively.

0. “Who is GOP Speaker nominee Tom Emmer” The Hill, 24 Oct. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/house/4268188-tom-emmer-potential-speaker-candidate/

1. “What to know about Tom Emmer, former House speaker nominee” Axios, 24 Oct. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/10/23/tom-emmer-house-speaker-republican-candidate

2. “Minnesota U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer drops out of House speaker race” Star Tribune, 24 Oct. 2023, https://www.startribune.com/minnesota-u-s-rep-tom-emmer-wins-gop-nomination-for-house-speaker/600314411/

3. “Who Is Tom Emmer? Here’s What To Know About The New GOP Speaker Nominee Endorsed By McCarthy But Criticized By Trump Allies.” Forbes, 24 Oct. 2023, https://www.forbes.com/sites/saradorn/2023/10/24/who-is-tom-emmer-heres-what-to-know-about-the-house-speaker-frontrunner-endorsed-by-mccarthy-but-criticized-by-trump-allies/

4. “Republicans Pick Rep. Mike Johnson for Speaker After Tom Emmer Drops Bid” The Daily Beast, 25 Oct. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/tom-emmer-drops-speaker-bid-after-trump-knifes-him

5. “Speaker update: Rep. Mike Johnson, is the latest speaker contender” NPR, 25 Oct. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/10/24/1208372102/house-enters-22nd-day-without-a-speaker-with-a-new-nominee-for-the-job

6. “Tom Emmer withdraws US House speaker bid hours after nomination” The Guardian US, 24 Oct. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/oct/24/tom-emmer-withdraws-bid-house-speaker

7. “Tom Emmer drops out of contention for House speaker, hours after winning GOP nomination” CNBC, 24 Oct. 2023, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/10/24/house-gop-speaker-vote.html

8. “Fleischmann eliminated from speaker race in first evening ballot” Roll Call , 25 Oct. 2023, https://rollcall.com/2023/10/24/gop-tries-again-to-unite-behind-speaker-nominee/

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