Emmer drops his pursuit of speaker’s gavel

Republicans nominated the five-term congressman from Minnesota’s Sixth District early on Tuesday, but Emmer wasn’t able to garner all of the votes he needed from GOP holdouts.

U.S. House Majority Whip Tom Emmer has dropped his pursuit of the speaker’s gavel just hours after the five-term Republican from Minnesota became the latest GOP nominee for the top ranking position in the House. (House Republicans/Facebook)

U.S. House Majority Whip Tom Emmer has dropped his pursuit of the speaker’s gavel just hours after the five-term Republican from Minnesota became the latest GOP nominee for the top ranking position in the House, multiple media outlets are reporting.

Emmer, who represents Minnesota’s Sixth District in Congress, spent much of the day attempting to sway about two dozen Republican colleagues who opposed his speaker candidacy, even as the vast majority of the caucus voted to make him their latest nominee. He needed support from 217 members to become speaker.

In recent days, as it became clear Emmer was the latest frontrunner for the speaker’s gavel, critics of his candidacy in some Republican circles pointed to Emmer’s brief work with a national popular vote organization more than a decade ago.

Emmer told Alpha News in a statement early on Tuesday afternoon, “That’s not my current position and hasn’t been for the entirety of my time in Congress. I support the electoral college.”

In 2020, when Emmer faced re-election for a fourth term representing Minnesota’s Sixth District, he published a statement on his campaign website definitively declaring he no longer supported the national popular vote compact.

“The electoral college is an essential element of our American republic,” Emmer said in August 2020, shortly before he won the Republican primary for the seat with 87 percent of the vote. “Our founders wisely laid out the framework for checks and balances within our electoral process in the Constitution. As Democrats in Washington and across the country continue to talk about abolishing the electoral college, mostly due to resentment over the election of President Donald Trump, I am more committed now than ever to continue defending the Electoral College.”

The issue of Emmer’s former position on the Electoral College became news almost exactly one year ago, when Emmer was in a close three-way contest for House Republican Whip.

At that time the New York Post reported that Emmer’s opponents were criticizing him over his work for the NPV firm more than a decade ago. The story also cited three Republican members of Congress who confirmed that Emmer had long ago disavowed his past support for the national popular vote.

In November, shortly after Republicans won back control of the House, Emmer edged out Jim Banks of Indiana for House Whip, the third ranking leadership position in Congress.

On Tuesday, after Emmer emerged as the latest GOP nominee for speaker, Banks circulated a statement that he “will not vote for Tom Emmer on the House floor.” Former President Donald Trump also posted a statement on social media calling Emmer a “RINO.” That came despite the fact that Trump had endorsed Emmer on social media in August 2022.

But several other Republican members of Congress, including those in the Minnesota congressional delegation, have openly supported Emmer for speaker.

“Whether it’s across MN or across the country, @GOPMajorityWhip Emmer has the trust and respect necessary to lead. Proud to support him for Speaker,” said Rep. Brad Finstad, a Republican who represents Minnesota’s First District, in a tweet over the weekend.

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted from the top post in September by eight Republicans unhappy with McCarthy’s tenure, had publicly supported Emmer’s candidacy in recent days.

On Tuesday, during a media scrum shortly before Emmer dropped his candidacy for speaker, McCarthy said he thought Emmer was taking the correct approach by engaging with those two dozen or so Republicans in the House who were reluctant to say they would vote to elect him on the House floor.

“What Tom is doing now, for those who have a difference of opinion, is directly ask them, ‘What is the problem?’ and see if he can solve it,” McCarthy said Tuesday afternoon. “That’s the best way to handle it instead of going to the floor.”

“(Emmer) is answering whatever questions people have,” McCarthy added. “And I think some of the questions people have, they haven’t given Tom the opportunity, yet, to even ask him, and have him answer them. I actually think this is the best way of doing that.”

Emmer becomes the GOP’s third candidate to fall short of garnering enough support to win a floor vote, leaving House Republicans in a bind.

It has been three weeks since McCarthy’s ouster as speaker by a faction of eight Republicans led by Rep. Matt Gaetz.


Hank Long

Hank Long is a journalism and communications professional whose writing career includes coverage of the Minnesota legislature, city and county governments and the commercial real estate industry. Hank received his undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, where he studied journalism, and his law degree at the University of St. Thomas. The Minnesota native lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and four children. His dream is to be around when the Vikings win the Super Bowl.