Emmer’s odds of rising to No. 2 position in GOP improve as Republicans back Scalise

A person speaks
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer speaks in front of an aircraft in use by the Minnesota Air National Guard at the Minnesota National Guard's hangar in St. Paul on Sept. 15.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Republicans on Wednesday endorsed House Majority Leader Steve Scalise to be the next speaker, paving the way for a possible ascension of Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer.

Emmer, who backed Scalise, previously declared his interest in becoming majority leader.

Scalise, of Louisiana, still faces a vote by the full House, but the nod of support from the GOP was seen as an indication of where the conference would land.

Steve Scalise
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., talks to reporters as he leaves Republicans closed-door forum to hear from the candidates for speaker of the House, at the Capitol in Washington on Oct. 10.
Jose Luis Magana | AP

Another internal deliberation and potential competition would await Emmer, who currently serves in the No. 3 leadership position as majority whip. No Minnesota lawmaker from either party has ever held the second-in-command position in the U.S. House.

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Reps. Elise Stefanik, of New York, and Kevin Hern, of Oklahoma, are also expected to be in the running for the No. 2 position.

Emmer, a fifth-term member who represents a central Minnesota district, threw his backing behind Scalise for the promotion in his contest against Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio. Jordan chairs the House Judiciary Committee. 

It followed a week of uncertainty after the ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy from the speaker’s post. In that action, eight Republicans joined all Democrats present in supporting McCarthy’s unprecedented removal.

GOP leaders have said they hope to take up debates and a floor vote on a speaker candidate this week. But it’s not clear that the candidate will move forward given the slim majority that Republicans hold in the chamber.

Desires to approve aid for Israel and move federal budget bills before the Nov. 17 deadline could hasten the process.

Emmer, 62, started his career in politics serving on two city councils in the Twin Cities suburbs. From there he went on to serve in the Minnesota House of Representatives, launch an unsuccessful bid for governor and ultimately to represent central Minnesota in the U.S. House.

He has served in Congress for five terms and has climbed the ranks to become majority whip – the top vote wrangler for Republicans.