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Former President Donald Trump has apparently weighed in on the GOP-controlled House’s most likely leading candidate for Speaker.
According to reports over the weekend, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) has emerged as the favored candidate, especially after receiving the endorsement of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). But Trump, allies say, isn’t on board with that choice.
Per Politico: “The former president’s top allies are already working to thwart Emmer’s candidacy. Trump supporters have begun passing around opposition research on the congressmember, and the pro-Trump “War Room” podcast on Friday afternoon turned into an Emmer bash-fest. During an appearance on the program, top Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn noted that Emmer had yet to endorse Trump in the Republican presidential primary.”
“If somebody is so out of step with where the Republican electorate is and where the MAGA movement is, how can they even be in the conversation?” Epshteyn said. “We need a MAGA speaker. That’s what it comes down to. Because if you look at the numbers, if you look at the energy, if you look at the heat, this is the Trump party; this is the MAGA party. It is no longer the old-school Khaki establishment Republican Party.”
Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon also claimed on his “War Room” podcast that Emmer is a “Trump hater.”
Others who are close to the former president added that Emmer as Speaker would likely create a chasm between House Republicans and their party’s most likely 2024 presidential nominee. One adviser said that Emmer “has no relationship with Trump.”
“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,” Politico reported, adding that Emmer was critical of Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Another Speaker candidate who fits the ‘MAGA’ description—and is a huge Trump ally—is Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.). He announced on Friday that he was running for the position. Should he emerge victorious, he would become the House’s first black speaker.
“I am running to become the next Speaker of the House,” Donalds noted on the X platform on Saturday. He laid out his priorities: Securing U.S. borders, funding government “responsibly,” advancing a conservative agenda, and expanding “our Republican majority.”
I am running to become the next Speaker of the House.
We need to:
🇺🇸 Secure our border
🇺🇸 Fund our government responsibly
🇺🇸 Advance our conservative agenda
🇺🇸 Expand our Republican majority
Let’s get to work! pic.twitter.com/a7jmeDYzvV
— Byron Donalds (@ByronDonalds) October 21, 2023
“He had received votes for the Speakership from GOP defectors both during McCarthy’s 15-ballot Speaker race in January and during Jordan’s three ballots this week,” The Hill noted.
In January, during the chaotic 15-round Speaker vote that finally resulted in a victory for Kevin McCarthy of California, Rep. Matt Gaetz — who led a handful of GOP malcontents earlier this month to vacate McCarthy’s chair — cast a ballot for Donalds to take the gavel.
Others, including retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) are also making a bid.
“The regular functioning of the federal government can’t wait on useless infighting and arguments,” Bergman said in a statement, per The Hill. “What matters right now is choosing a Speaker in order to make sure that our government—and particularly our military—is funded, and that both our homeland and our critical allies are secure in this time of crisis.”
“What we need right now is a Speaker who has experience leading and can put ego aside to work together for the American people. We need a leader who shuns permanent power and recognizes the current crisis of leadership. I’m ready to serve. Together we can end the deadlock, and win the vote,” Bergman said.
The Hill added more details regarding Emmer:
The majority whip — who previously served as chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) — would be the highest-ranking lawmaker to jockey for the position. He has endured leadership races in the past, a fact that could help him prevail this time around.