Republicans Announce New Speaker Candidate After Tom Emmer Drama

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson is the Republican Partys latest nominee for House speaker after a late-night Tuesday vote—just hours after Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN) bailed out of his nomination after less than a day in the hot seat.

Johnson, the Republican Vice Conference Chair, who Emmer previously beat for the nomination, is now the frontrunner after three failed attempts and three weeks without a Speaker of the House.

Johnson picked up the nomination Tuesday night as the new speaker designate with 128 votes. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) scored 43 votes.

According to Politico, audible clapping could be heard as Johnson's name was announced.

It came after more than 13 hours of back and forth between warring factions of Republicans.

Just after noon on Tuesday, Emmer (R-MN) won the House GOP's nomination to be Speaker. About four hours later, he had already dropped out.

As the news circulated on social media, the current No. 3 House Republican was seen briskly walking out of a GOP conference meeting on Tuesday afternoon and into a waiting car.

GOP Speaker Nominee's Big Problem: He Wouldn’t Overturn 2020 Election

Emmer's bid was undone by about two dozen GOP holdouts and a forceful statement from Donald Trump that made it clear to him and every other Republican that he would never have the 217 votes needed to win the gavel on the floor.

A conservative who nevertheless rates as a more moderate member of GOP leadership, Emmer faced stiff criticism from MAGA lawmakers for his votes to uphold the 2020 election result, codify same-sex marriage rights, and send aid to Ukraine.

Now, for the fourth time in three weeks, House Republicans are fully back to square one without a Speaker nominee. Seemingly fully broken by the removal of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Oct. 3, Republicans must figure out how to resolve an unprecedented leadership crisis and internal civil war.

Emmer, along with Reps. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) before him, have all failed to lock up the support needed to win a floor vote in the past two weeks.

With just a few lawmakers enough to block any bid, these Republicans—who enjoy broad influence and popularity in the conference—have all been undone by ideological differences, personal vendettas, Trump's influence, and simply general chaos and discontent.

It's unclear who, if any, Republican has the skills and support to overcome that potent mix of factors that has thrown the GOP into bitter conflict and left the House floor paralyzed for weeks.

House Republicans Swear They’ll Find Their Speaker This Time

Emmer's decision to drop out came just as Republicans met for another closed-door conference meeting, their second of the day. Already, lawmakers began discussing a path forward—and testing the waters for their own attempts to win the gavel where others have failed.

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), who lost Tuesday's nomination vote to Emmer, was rumored to likely re-enter the race. As was Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK), who tied for third place in that same vote, and Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), who considered running in the last contest but did not.

While both Johnson and Hern are well-liked conservatives, members have bristled at the clear pattern of nomination runners-up returning to run again when the winners inevitably fail.

With Republicans increasingly exhausted and impatient over the ongoing crisis, some are pushing for expedited processes to put an end to the drama. The party was reported to be proceeding to another candidate form as soon as Tuesday evening.

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