Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minnesota) Tuesday abruptly dropped out of race for House speaker after far right-wing supporters of former President Donald Trump refused to support him.
Just a couple of hours after Emmer won the backing of a majority of Republicans, he was forced to pull out amid implacable opposition by about two dozen GOP lawmakers.
Trump also denounced Emmer, dooming his bid for the gavel and putting dysfunctional Republicans back to square one.
“Voting for a Globalist RINO like Tom Emmer would be a tragic mistake!” Trump wrote on his social media site, insulting Emmer as a Republican in name only.
“I have many wonderful friends wanting to be Speaker of the House and some are truly great Warriors,” Trump said. “RINO Tom Emmer, who I do not know well, is not one of them.”
The Trump statement came as about 25 far right-wing Republicans refused to back Emmer in a closed-door meeting, a number that was more than enough to torpedo his bid.
Republicans now need to choose a fourth candidate to lead their House majority after Emmer joined Rep. Steve Scalise and Rep. Jim Jordan in falling short of the 217 fellow GOP lawmakers needed to win the gavel on the House floor.
It looks increasingly unlikely that any Republican lawmaker can amass the needed support. But it’s not at all clear what that Republicans will do about the stalemate.
It took Emmer, who is No. 3 GOP House leader, three hours and five ballots behind closed doors to win a majority vote in a closed doors meeting of about 220 Republicans.
He won 117 votes to beat out six other candidates who started the day vying for the gavel, knocking off Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana), a more far right-wing choice, on the fifth ballot.
After three weeks of leaderless chaos and brutal infighting, some Republicans predicted the GOP was ready to set aside the internecine blood-letting. That proved to be nothing more than wishful thinking.
Besides Johnson, Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) showed significant backing as head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, a key GOP faction.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Florida), an eloquent voice in the pro-Trump wing of the party, also amassed support.
Hern and Donalds eventually dropped out along with several others who were ousted in earlier votes.
The GOP unleashed the drama on itself three weeks ago when a small group of hardliners ousted ex-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy,
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio followed by winning the GOP nomination. But their bids faltered amid strong opposition from various factions.
Democrats have so far avoided getting involved in the GOP-on-GOP violence with lawmakers voting in lockstep for Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on the House floor.
That could change if Republicans conclusively prove themselves unable to elect a speaker anytime soon.
Democrats could agree to allow some Republican to win by voting for that candidate or abstaining en masse.
Jeffries has said Democrats would consider negotiating a solution but would insist on a compromise that would allow votes on crucial foreign aid for Ukraine and Israel, along with a spending package to keep the government open past a Thanksgiving shutdown deadline.