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House GOP picks Emmer as GOP whip, Scalise as leader

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House Republicans elected Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the chief of their campaign team,to be House majority whip in a closed-door conference vote on Tuesday, ending a closely-fought race with Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.).

The conference separately voted to elect Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) as majority leader by voice vote. Scalise had been serving as minority whip. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected Speaker-designate. A vote on the House floor will eventually determine the Speakership.

Emmer won the race for House majority whip, the third-ranking post in a GOP majority, locking up a victory in what was considered the most competitive race in the conference. 

The three-way race was decided on the second ballot in a 115-106 vote between Emmer and Banks.

Ferguson was knocked out in the first round of voting, winning 71 votes compared to 72 for Emmer and 82 for Banks.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) nominated Banks, and Reps. August Pfluger (R-Texas) and Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) seconded.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), nominated Emmer for the post, while Rep.-elect Derrick Van Orden (Wis.) and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) seconded the nomination. 

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) nominated Ferguson, while Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.) seconded the nomination.

Emmer, currently the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, led the House Republicans through this month’s midterm elections and the 2020 cycle, focusing on how unexpected gains in 2020 set the groundwork for securing a GOP majority in 2022 despite smaller-than expected gains this year.

In materials allocated to members last week, the Minnesota Republican leaned into his “honest and direct engagement with members.”

Banks — who currently chairs the Republican Study Committee, the largest conservative caucus in the House — emphasized maintaining “relationships with the coalitions who’ve helped us and the voters who elected us” in his bid for the job. He secured an endorsement from Concerned Women for America, a right-wing Christian group, and pointed out that he is a veteran.

And Ferguson, who currently sits as chief deputy whip of the GOP conference, highlighted his experience on the whip team.