GOP’s Musical Chairs: Emmer Takes a Turn for Speaker, but Will He Last?

The Republican Party seems to be in a pickle. They’ve been spinning their wheels, trying to decide who will be their choice for Speaker of the House. After ousting Kevin McCarthy and seeing both Scalise and Jordan drop like hot potatoes, the spotlight is now shining on Minnesota’s Tom Emmer.

The journey to this point has been nothing short of a political soap opera. First, the party nominated Scalise, but he stepped down quicker than you can say “Freedom Caucus” due to opposition from some of the party’s farther right members. Then, Jordan took his turn, only to face resistance from over 20 members of the GOP. Some of these members were none too pleased when supporters of Jordan started dishing out threats. Now, it’s Emmer’s turn in the hot seat. But will he fare any better?

You’d think after three attempts, the Republicans would be closer to a united front. But Emmer’s nomination process suggests otherwise. He only scooped up 117 votes out of 224 in his party’s conference. So, the million-dollar question: Will Emmer face a mutiny from his own ranks when it’s time for the full House to cast their votes?

But Emmer’s hurdles don’t stop there. He’s managed to irk the Freedom Caucus with his track record of voting on bipartisan bills, which some see as being too soft on social spending. Emmer’s refusal to vote against the certification of the 2020 presidential election results might win him a few brownie points among more centrist Republicans, but it’s anathema to the many who took a hard stance against it.

The plot thickened when former President Trump, the GOP’s charismatic influencer, was hesitant to back Emmer. However, following what we can only imagine was an interesting call, Trump shifted from “Team No-Emmer” to “Team Neutral,” even sprinkling a few positive remarks Emmer’s way.

But don’t mistake Emmer for a moderate. The Minnesota Republican might have some centrist voting tendencies, but he’s thrown his weight behind far-right stances more than once. Emmer’s opposition to LGBTQ student protections and his alliance with anti-abortion groups remind us of his true colors. And let’s not forget that in 2022, Emmer took to social media to casually fire a rifle at a shooting range, captioned with a cheeky (or shall we say, alarming?) #FirePelosi.

For the Democrats watching this unfold with popcorn in hand, Emmer’s nomination might be seen as a small win, given his vote against the certification debacle. But they won’t be getting too comfortable. The possibility of Republicans needing to negotiate with the Dems becomes more likely with every internal misstep.