WASHINGTON – After Rep. Jim Jordan’s bid for speaker of the U.S. House collapsed Friday, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy threw his endorsement to Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, who had been making calls to GOP colleagues to determine if he would win their support for that top job.
“He is the right person for the job. He can unite the conference,” McCarthy said in a statement. “He understands the dynamics of the conference. He also understands what it takes to win and keep a majority.”
With McCarthy’s endorsement, Emmer would become the top candidate for the job, but others are also weighing a run.
Since McCarthy, R-Calif., was ousted from the speakership earlier this month, Emmer has been considered a possible replacement. But Emmer, who now holds the No. 3 position as House majority whip, was eying the No. 2 position, that of majority leader held by Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La, if Scalise were elevated to speaker. But like Jordan, Scalise failed to win the necessary 217 votes on the House floor that would win him the job.
Jordan, R-Ohio, not only lost a third vote on the floor for speaker Friday, he also lost a secret ballot among Republican members who said they no longer wanted him as speaker designate. That opened the door to any Republican member who wants to try for the highest Republican leadership position to the U.S. House.
Members were given a Sunday deadline to decide whether they will run.
A source familiar with the situation said Emmer began making calls to his Republican colleagues soon after the closed-door meeting was over Friday afternoon.
“I can confirm he’s making calls for Speaker,” the source said in an email.
Candidates for speaker will have a chance to make a public pitch for the job in a forum scheduled for Monday afternoon. That allows those candidates over the weekend to mount their campaigns, interim speaker Patrick McHenry said. Another nomination vote would be held as early as Tuesday.
Emmer is expected to have competition.
Reps. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., and Mike Johnson, R-La., are also making calls seeking support for a speaker bid. Meanwhile, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., said he plans to enter the race and Rep. Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, said he’s considering it.
As the former head of the NRCC and as majority whip, Emmer has forged relationships with a broad range of Republican House members. But Emmer’s relationship with former President Donald Trump, who strongly backed Jordan’s failed effort to become speaker, is frosty.
Unlike Scalise or Jordan, Emmer voted to certify the 2020 elections. He also advised candidates, as head of the NRCC to distance themselves from Trump if they need to do that to win.
The ouster of McCarthy has left the U.S. House of Representatives rudderless and unable to conduct any business. It has also resulted in acrimony, tension and finger-pointing among GOP members.
As Jordan battled for the speakership, the 20 or so Republican members who failed to support him were victims of abusive phone calls and threatening posts on social media. Some of them, and their family members, were also victims of death threats.
Rep. Pete Stauber, R-8th District, who voted for Jordan the first time but decided to nominate Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., on the other two, was also targeted. A spokeswoman said the Stauber’s office referred one call to Capitol Police, but that the lawmaker did not receive any death threats.