The race for the speaker’s gavel got even more complex Friday after Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, dropped out of the race and a number of Republicans jumped in.
One candidate with favorable backing is Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., who announced his candidacy Friday.
Emmer has already scored a major endorsement from ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who was ousted more than two weeks ago by eight Republicans voting with House Democrats.
It’s unclear whether Emmer will succeed where Jordan and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., failed — convincing the various factions within the GOP to unite around his leadership.
“He is the right person for the job. He can unite the conference,” McCarthy said. “He understands the dynamics of the conference. He also understands what it takes to win and keep a majority.”
“Our Conference remains at a crossroads, and the deck is stacked against us. We have no choice but to fight like hell to hold on to our House majority and deliver on our conservative agenda,” Emmer told Republican members of Congress in a letter Saturday about his bid for the speaker’s gavel.
Emmer said he would use teamwork, communication and respect to build on the success Republicans had taking back the House majority in 2022 and scoring legislative wins.
Allies of Emmer also pointed to his ability as a fundraiser. Emmer brought in $9.2 million for House races in the 2022 election cycle, including more than $3.1 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which he led at the time. Emmer has raised $7.6 million so far in 2023 for the 2024 election cycle.
Emmer faces a potential roadblock to his nomination from the hard-right side of the Republican caucus. Some reports have indicated former President Trump — who endorsed Jordan for speaker — is whipping members against voting for Emmer. It is unclear how this would affect the House speaker race.
Emmer is an attorney, former hockey player and coach, a father of seven and the No. 3 GOP lawmaker in the House this Congress.
He assumed the whip position from Steve Scalise, R-La., now the House majority leader — who also happened to be the GOP speaker nominee before Jordan.
Holding the position after leading the NRCC in the last election cycle, Emmer says he is a “team guy” from a “big hockey factory.”
The House majority whip said he learned to negotiate through his work as an attorney, but starting a youth hockey team in Delano, Minnesota, in the 1990s is where he cut his teeth in the art of getting people to work together.
“And we literally started because I recognized you’ve got all these competing entities, much like you have in Congress,” Emmer said. “I had to become a member of the local Youth Hockey board. Then I had to become a member of the board that ran the ice arena, so we could control our own ice time.
“Then I had to become a member of the District Hockey Board that was in charge of the region that our community was part of. Then I had to become part of … Minnesota Hockey, which is under the umbrella of USA Hockey. Why? Because we had to get them all talking to each other.”
Thirty years later, Emmer said, the program in the town that “was not recognized in the sport at all” is consistently making state championships.
The House majority whip was first bitten by the political bug in the early 1990s when Emmer, an attorney at the time, and wife Jackie were living in an old converted country hotel with “200-year-old” oak and maple trees in the front yard. The local public works team marked trees to be removed for a new road the next day.
The whip said his wife was “devastated” by the development because you “just don’t get stuff like that in town,” and Emmer called the mayor, a farmer, who drove to the congressman’s property at 10 p.m. “in his old, beat-up Cadillac Fleetwood” and put his lights on the trees.
The mayor whipped out his cellphone and called the head of public works to save the trees by moving the road 80 feet into the farm field.
“And after he did that, I was like, ‘Oh, well, this is the way it works,’ because the next thing that came was a sewer line that I didn’t need,” Emmer said. “We had two acres, we had a young family and I was getting assessed tens of thousands of dollars for a sewer that I didn’t need and I didn’t want.
“And that’s literally what got me involved running.”
Emmer’s candidacy comes after Jordan failed in his third bid for the speaker’s gavel.
House Republicans are starting from scratch to select a new candidate for speaker after Jordan was voted out of the race.
A deep roster of Republicans emerged as potential candidates to lead the House immediately after a closed-door House GOP vote on whether to keep Jordan as speaker designate.
Republicans are expected to meet behind closed doors Monday evening for a candidate forum before a conference-wide election via secret anonymous ballot on Tuesday.
Fox News Digital’s Elizabeth Elkind contributed reporting.