The House GOP rivalry that will define the week

The House GOP rivalry that will define the week

The real matchup: House Republicans will start picking their next potential speaker less than 18 hours from now, and Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) is as close to a favorite as the nine-man race can claim to have. But his biggest opponent for the gavel is … running for Senate.

Yes, we mean Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.).

The backstory: Almost one year ago, House Republicans were reeling from a midterm election performance that fell far short of the 60-seat pickup Kevin McCarthy once boldly envisioned. That lackluster performance, creating the small majority that made governing so hard for McCarthy, initially looked like it might work against Emmer as the Minnesotan competed with Banks and Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) for the majority whip job.

But in the end, Emmer won after surviving the first ballot by just one vote. Before he did so, some bad blood between he and Banks got kicked up.

It began in earnest after an anonymous Republican invoked Buckley Carlson, the son of the Fox News host and an aide to Banks, in a Daily Beast story. Banks’ allies, including Tucker Carlson and some in Donald Trump’s camp, latched onto the quote to argue that Emmer was dinging Banks as kowtowing to the Trump-friendly conservative media world.

Tucker Carlson and Trump seem to be over it. Business Insider reported Monday that the former Fox News host will not get involved in the speaker’s fight. Trump, who has gotten calls from nearly half of the speakership candidates, also declined to take a shot at Emmer on Monday.

Though he didn’t exactly issue a ringing endorsement: “I’m trying to stay out of that as much as possible,” Trump said of the speaker’s race on Monday.

Banks is, potentially, another story. He’s kept a low profile in the House lately as he vies to succeed Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), who is running for governor in the Hoosier State.

But Banks has reposted on X to amplify content promoting Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Mike Johnson (R-La.) in the speaker’s race – while also reposting a POLITICO story about Trump’s allies trying to thwart Emmer’s speakership race.

Your Huddle host texted Banks to ask who he plans to support for speaker on Tuesday with no response. His office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the matter.

GOP opposites: As political personalities go, Emmer and Banks couldn’t be more different. Banks, since his arrival on the Hill in 2017, has fashioned himself as a staunch supporter of Trump despite displaying reservations before 2016, as did most Republicans.

Banks later chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee and forged close relationships on the right flank of the conference.

Emmer, since his first term began in 2015, has risen in the ranks on the strength of an affable hockey-dad-type reputation. He counts allies on the right flank, including Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), but his swath of influence is seen as ideologically broader thanks to his past leadership of the GOP campaign arm.

And just listen to the candor with which Emmer addressed the frequent divisions within the House GOP during a March interview with our Sarah Ferris and Olivia Beavers.

“When people say it’s family, no way. We’d be the most dysfunctional family on the face of the planet,” Emmer said then, referring to House Republicans’ highly divergent political bases. “It’s not about people liking each other, going out and socializing together, loving one another. They don’t. And you should not force that.”

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