After Republicans finally dethroned Jim Jordan as their speaker of the House nominee Friday, GOP eyes turned to Rep. Tom Emmer. The Minnesota congressman seemed like the natural choice: He engineered his party’s successful effort to retake the House in 2022, and he’s currently the third-ranking Republican in that chamber. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy quickly endorsed Emmer. “He’ll immediately become the frontrunner,” wrote Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman.
But it turns out Emmer (like the GOP itself) has a pretty big problem: Donald Trump. According to Politico, the former president sees Emmer, who has not endorsed Trump in the primary, as insufficiently sycophantic:
In conversations Friday, Trump made clear he was concerned by the prospect of Emmer in the speaker’s chair, telling people he believed the Minnesota Republican was not a fan, according to two people familiar with those private talks. Trump has complained, they say, that Emmer has not forcefully defended him against the indictments he is facing. He has also pointed to Emmer’s criticism of him following the Trump-inspired Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and reports — which Emmer strenuously denied — that as then-chair of the House GOP campaign arm, he advised Republican candidates to avoid mentioning Trump.
Prominent MAGA-world figures amplified that message, warning that Emmer might not do enough to interfere with the Justice Department’s criminal cases against Trump. After all, unlike nearly every other Republican candidate for speaker (including McCarthy), Emmer voted against Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election on January 6, 2021. The far-right hasn’t forgotten that betrayal.
“A vote for Tom Emmer is a vote for [special counsel] Jack Smith’s investigation,” declared GOP operative Caroline Wren, a key Trump ally, on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast Friday, before rattling off a list of complaints about Emmer’s record on everything from Ukraine funding to the debt ceiling. “He certified the fake election. He has been the wrong vote every single time. He is Nancy Pelosi in a suit…I don’t know who the…speaker should be right now, but all I know is I’m [for] anyone but Emmer, and everyone else should be, too.”
A Vote For Tom Emmer Is A Vote For Jack Smith's Investigation, He Has Fought Against President Trump and American First Agenda, Worked For Soros Backed Entities, And Certified The Fake Election. @carolinewren pic.twitter.com/wLj3MpTKOi
— Grace Chong 🇺🇸 (@gc22gc) October 20, 2023
This isn’t Trump’s first attempt to wade into the speaker’s race. After McCarthy’s ouster earlier this month, Trump endorsed Jordan, who—unlike Emmer—had worked tirelessly to steal the 2020 election. Trump’s support wasn’t enough to help Jordan secure the top job, but his opposition could easily be enough to kill Emmer’s chances.