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GOP bigot helps sink Rep. Tom Emmer's Speaker bid: He needs to "get right with Jesus"
Georgia Rep. Rick Allen denounced Emmer's support of a federal bill to protect marriage equality
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House Republicans still can’t figure out which member of Congress should be their leader, and the most recent candidate saw his prospects fade away because he wasn’t enough of a Christian bigot.
Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, who serves as the House Majority Whip, was floated as an alternative to Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and Jim Jordan. But his candidacy lasted no more than a few hours. On Tuesday morning, after several rounds of internal jousting, Emmer came away with the conference nomination… but before the House could vote on the Speaker, it became clear Emmer lacked the necessary votes to win the job.
Some of that anger came from allies of Donald Trump, who called Emmer a “Globalist RINO.” (Emmer voted to certify the 2020 election in favor of Joe Biden, though he supported voter suppression elsewhere.)
But some of it also came from ultra-conservative Republicans who couldn’t handle the fact that, in 2022, Emmer voted in support of a federal bill to protect marriage equality in light of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.
To be clear, Emmer is no progressive ally. In 2007, when he was a state representative, Emmer sponsored a bill “proposing a constitutional amendment for Minnesota to only recognize marriages between men and women.” In 2010, he received an endorsement from the anti-LGBTQ National Organization for Marriage. But by 2022, Emmer voted in support of federal protections for gay couples, presumably because it didn’t seem like a hill worth dying on.
That vote came back to bite him yesterday.
A source familiar with the showdown confirmed the timeline of events to The Daily Beast, which was first reported by Punchbowl News’ Jake Sherman.
The story goes that during the closed House GOP conference meeting on Tuesday, [Rep. Rick] Allen confronted Emmer and said “that the Minnesota Republican didn’t need to get right with him, he needed to ‘get right with Jesus.’” According to the source, “the room gasped.”
Christian Nationalist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene echoed those comments, saying that Emmer failed to reflect the “values and the views of Republican voters in the country,” specifically citing his vote on the marriage equality bill (though she lied about the exact nature of that bill). It wasn’t the only reason his bid for Speaker failed but it was absolutely one of them.
I don’t know why Republicans in the room “gasped” at the idea that Christian Nationalism has firmly taken hold in the party. Was anyone surprised that Jesus came up inside closed doors? Do they not realize that bigotry is a core part of the GOP platform?
If Emmer thought Republicans had gotten over their anti-gay prejudice by now, he was sorely mistaken.
A 2021 Gallup poll found that only 55% of Republicans supported the legal recognition of same-sex marriages. And those were Republicans in the general population, not the more extreme Republicans who typically get elected as a result of gerrymandered districts and the abundance of MAGA cultists who vote in primary elections.
It shouldn’t have been surprising, then, that nearly two dozen Republicans withheld their support from the 62-year-old Emmer, sinking his candidacy before it could ever get to a vote in the full House. If you’re not sufficiently bigoted in the name of Jesus, there’s no way to win enough support from the current GOP majority.
Former Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman chimed in with this nugget in reaction to the news, though:
Emmer, by the way, is a practicing Catholic. The Catholic Church is very publicly opposed to marriage equality and LGBTQ rights; there’s no reason to think Emmer disagrees with those positions. His 2022 vote was all about federal recognition of existing marriages; it was a far cry from active support of same-sex unions. None of that, however, seemed to matter to the MAGA cultists.
The next Republican Speaker has yet to be decided, but one thing’s for sure: Faith-based bigotry will be a prerequisite for the position.
As of this writing, the new nominee for Speaker is Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana. He’s a former attorney for the right-wing Alliance Defending Freedom and a fan favorite of both the Family Research Council and Creationist Ken Ham. So at least the conservative Christian bigot box will be checked.