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Rep. Tom Emmer drops out of House speaker's race amid opposition from Trump

Early morning fog envelopes the U.S. Capitol dome behind the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 4, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Republicans are poised to regain control of the U.S. Congress in the midterm elections on Nov. 8 after the Democrats gained the majority in both the House in 2018 and Senate in 2020.
Early morning fog envelopes the U.S. Capitol dome behind the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 4, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Republicans are poised to regain control of the U.S. Congress in the midterm elections on Nov. 8 after the Democrats gained the majority in both the House in 2018 and Senate in 2020. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Just hours after House Republicans rallied around a new candidate to nominate as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, he dropped out of the race among opposition to his candidacy from within the party and former President Donald Trump. 

Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., emerged as the House Republican Conference’s preferred candidate to go to the House floor for a speaker vote after several rounds of voting Tuesday. Emmer, who serves as the House majority whip, was one of several candidates who made their case for why House Republicans should support their bid to become the next speaker.

According to a spreadsheet compiled by FiveThirtyEight, it took five rounds of voting for Emmer to receive majority support from the fractured House Republican Conference. Reps. Gary Palmer, R-Ala., and Dan Meuser, R-Pa., took themselves out of the running before voting began.

Each round of voting saw the candidate with the fewest number of votes eliminated until one candidate received a majority. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, was eliminated in the first round of voting, while Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., was eliminated after the second ballot. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., received the fewest votes on the third ballot and Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., secured the lowest support on the fourth ballot. 

After Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., withdrew from the race after the fourth ballot, the fifth round of voting featured a contest between Emmer and Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.

Emmer won the final round and looked like he would be the Republicans’ nominee for House speaker. 

However, The Hill reported Tuesday afternoon that Emmer dropped out of the race amid opposition from within his own caucus. Specifically, 26 Republicans indicated that they opposed Emmer after he won the endorsement of the House GOP Conference. 

Emmer is the latest Republican to withdraw from the speaker’s race due to the difficult task of uniting a fractured GOP caucus enough to win the votes required to win the speakership following the ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., three weeks ago.

While only eight Republicans joined 208 Democrats in the vote to remove McCarthy, the narrow Republican majority meant that it only took a small number of defections for McCarthy to lose the speakership. 

The House GOP Conference previously selected Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, as its preferred candidate, but he withdrew after losing support following three rounds of voting by the full House.

As all congressional Democrats remained united behind Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., throughout the entire process, Jordan saw his support drop from 200 in the first round of voting to 199 in the second round and 194 in the third round.

Assuming all 212 Democrats continued to support Jeffries as expected, Emmer would have needed at least 213 votes to become speaker depending on how many members either voted “present” or were absent from the vote. If all 433 members of the House supported a specific person for speaker, Emmer would have needed the support of at least 217.

Since Republicans currently hold 221 seats in the House, Emmer could not have afforded to have more than four Republicans vote against him. The 26 objections to his candidacy were far too much to overcome. 

Emmer was one of the more moderate members seeking the speakership. The Conservative Review assigned Emmer a Liberty Score of 69% based on votes he has taken on 50 legislative matters throughout his tenure in Congress. A higher Liberty Score indicates a stronger adherence to conservative principles, as defined by the Conservative Review.

Compared to the other candidates, Emmer’s Liberty Score fell into the middle of the pack. Bergman has a Liberty Score of 57%, slightly behind Sessions at 63%, Scott at 65% and Emmer at 69%. 

The other three candidates had higher Liberty Scores than Emmer: Johnson has a 74% Liberty Score, Hern’s Liberty Score is 82% and Donalds has the highest possible Liberty Score of 100%. 

Unlike all other candidates seeking the speakership, Emmer voted for the Respect for Marriage Act last year. The Respect for Marriage Act codified a right to same-sex marriage into federal law and repealed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman at the federal level.

Emmer was one of 39 Republicans to support the measure, condemned by religious liberty advocates as an attempt to put “faith-based institutions in court because of their religious beliefs about marriage.”

Additional votes taken by Emmer that likely received scrutiny from the more conservative members of the House Republican conference include multiple votes in favor of so-called “omnibus” bills that include funding packages for multiple government agencies. Emmer has also come under fire from former President Donald Trump, the current frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

“I have many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House, and some are truly great Warriors,” Trump said in a Truth Social post Tuesday. “RINO Tom Emmer, who I do not know well, is not one of them.”

Describing Emmer as “totally out-of-touch with Republican Voters,” Trump insisted that “he never respected the Power of a Trump Endorsement, or the breadth and scope of MAGA–MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” 

“Has he only changed because that’s what it takes to win?” Trump wondered. “The Republican Party cannot take that chance, because that’s not where the America First voters are. Voting for a Globalist [Republican in Name Only] like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake!” 

Until the full House elects a new speaker, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., will continue to serve as speaker pro tempore, a position with limited powers. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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