U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) has won the vote of the House Republican Conference as their candidate for Speaker of the House.
Emmer is the current Majority Whip — the number three ranking Congress member. He must now go to the floor of the full House and seek a majority vote, something that no one else has been able to achieve since the speaker’s chair became vacant on October 4.
Emmer, 62, was considered the establishment candidate. He defeated U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), 117-97, who was considered the conservative candidate.
A series of secret ballots were conducted by about 220 Republican members of the House Tuesday morning behind closed doors in the House GOP Conference.
Other candidates for speaker were gradually eliminated in the Tuesday morning ballots, the low man out on each successive ballot.
Emmer can lose only about four Republican votes on the House floor and still achieve the required majority. Last week, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) failed on the House floor three times after winning in the GOP Conference. The conference then removed Jordan as their candidate on Friday.
Conservative Congress members concerned about Emmer's politics could cause some to vote for other Republicans, thus denying a winner for speaker if four or more do so.
Those concerns about Emmer from conservatives include:
Support for the war in Ukraine.
Failure to challenge 2020 presidential election results.
Perceived opposition to GOP Presidential front-runner Donald Trump.
Discussion of abolishing the Electoral College.
It is also possible that Democratic congress members could vote for Emmer to achieve his needed majority and prevent a conservative speaker. The speaker’s election could become a high-stakes political chess game. Each time a conservative Republican indicates he or she will not vote for Emmer, a Democratic congress member can plan to add a vote for Emmer. In the tightly organized Democratic party, this sabotage of a conservative speaker can be accomplished.
The floor vote is expected Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday, though the schedule is fluid.
Before the voting, Alabama’s U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) told 1819 news, “It is important that we have unity, that we all support the speaker candidate that is selected by our conference.”
No members of the Alabama delegation have as yet reacted to the Emmer designation.
The author, Jim Zeigler, is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].