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Could This Minnesota Rep. Be McCarthy’s Successor?

State of the Union: A staffer for a prominent Freedom Caucus member tells The American Conservative that Majority Whip Tom Emmer could be the next Speaker of the House.

Vote For Speaker Of The House Stretches Into Fourth Day
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The House is currently voting on whether or not Kevin McCarthy will remain Speaker of the House after Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida filed a motion to vacate the chair in response to the Speaker’s dealmaking with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown.

If Democrats refuse to bail McCarthy out, which seems likely since House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said “Democrats will not save McCarthy” in a letter to the Democratic caucus earlier today, Gaetz only needs a handful of Republicans to join him in his effort to vacate the chair. As it stands now, Gaetz could have seven or more votes to oust McCarthy, given Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado hinted at voting against McCarthy by tweeting that “Kevin McCarthy has repeatedly broken his word both to the American people and to members of Congress.”

A staffer for a key Freedom Caucus member told The American Conservative that, if McCarthy is removed, “the only person who could get the votes to become speaker would be Majority Whip Tom Emmer. However, it would take several days if not weeks to get a winning vote. Odds are McCarthy keeps running for speaker again and the battle drags on longer than in January. Emmer seems like a step up, however we don’t know what kind of leader he’d be. It’s a very difficult situation.” Apart from McCarthy and Emmer, the staffer was unsure of who could get to 218 votes. Other individuals TAC spoke to were confident that McCarthy would be removed today, but were unsure of how long the process to replace him might take and who would end up holding the Speaker’s gavel. Some suggested it could once again be Kevin McCarthy, since a more conservative candidate would struggle to win over the centrists in the GOP caucus.

Emmer is seemingly more hawkish on Ukraine than McCarthy has been in his attempts to balance the fractious GOP caucus. When TAC asked the staffer about this possible shift on Ukraine, the staffer said, “Ukraine has become a very big issue in the party. Republicans are heavily moving towards not funding them anymore. But it’s important to note that it’s because of increasing pressure from the American people. The people are tired of it. Republicans in favor of Ukraine funding are looked at very unfavorably by their constituents.”

Emmer’s potential advantage over McCarthy, the staffer told TAC, is that “Emmer would likely do what the majority of his party wants as opposed to McCarthy, who is okay with working across the aisle and getting more Democrat votes than Republican votes.”