WASHINGTON The debate around the House Republican leadership isn’t whether or not Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will become speaker if the party’s majority in the chamber changes following this fall’s election.

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Instead, a three-way race farther down the pecking order is taking place, including two Republicans who, maybe more than anyone else in this Congress, have worked diligently to shape the future of the House GOP and a third who has the support of a strong Republican leader.

The competition to become the GOP whip in the upcoming Congress, the third position in the House Republican leadership, has already begun to form battle lines. Reps. Drew Ferguson of Georgia, the current chief deputy whip chosen by the current GOP whip, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and Reps. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP’s campaign arm, and Jim Banks of Indiana, chair of the Republican Study Committee, a conservative caucus with more than 150 members, are all vying for the position. During the last few weeks of the 2022 midterm election campaign, each candidate tries to advertise his chances by raising money and running campaigns for supporters across the nation.

In the event that Republicans take back control of the lower chamber, Scalise, who is most likely to serve as majority leader in a Republican-controlled House, and McCarthy, a Californian, will be the next in line for the role. Both men have not drawn a rival.

Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, had been debating running for the competitive whip position but ultimately decided to seek reelection as the GOP conference chair, the No. 4 position in the majority. Despite the fact that their conference has become more diverse in recent elections, her choice ensures that the top three GOP leadership positions will all be held by white men.

Following the November election, the Republican membership will vote behind closed doors to decide on all leadership positions.

Party whips are responsible for keeping members in line during critical votes and attempting to ensure that as few members as possible deviate from the leadership position. This is no minor feat in a conference that has struggled to come together in recent years.

Between 2011 and 2018, when Republicans held the majority, the hard-right House Freedom Caucus caused trouble for Speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner and thwarted McCarthy’s first attempt to become speaker in 2015. To ensure that Republicans can fund the government, lift the debt ceiling, and unite around an uniting message that will help them win back the White House in 2024, the new whip will need to control both the Freedom Caucus and majority-forming moderates.

Tom Emmer and Jim Banks are close friends. They will present their case, and we believe we have a strong one, Ferguson said in an interview. The purpose of the whip operations is to obtain votes, not only to count them. We are able to achieve that.

Emmer and Banks seem to be the front-runners in discussions with more than a dozen GOP lawmakers, aides, and operatives, though Ferguson is not being discounted. In many ways, the decision will come down to rewarding Emmer for helping Republicans surpass expectations in the 2020 cycle by picking up 15 seats and appreciating the fact that he has also developed relationships and raised money for members and potential incoming freshmen this term, or choosing Banks, a driven three-term congressman who has sought to create a Donald Trump-inspired policy and messaging agenda for the party from his perch atop the Republican Study Committee.

Before turning their attention to the leadership competitions, the candidates said they will continue to keep their emphasis on the elections on November 8. Ferguson insisted that we must maintain the importance of the fundamental issue.

According to a statement from National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Michael McAdams, Chairman Emmer is dead set on winning in November. As soon as the Republicans take back control of the House and oust Nancy Pelosi, he has asked his coworkers for the chance to argue for the Majority Whip.

The Banks office denied a request for an interview or for comment.
Guy Reschenthaler, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said Emmer has the necessary support to win the election on the first ballot after polling members.

How can anyone argue against electing a man to the position of NRCC chairman who assisted us in regaining the majority? said he. I enjoy Jim Banks. Drew Ferguson is a good guy. But in the end, neither Drew nor Jim will receive enough votes to win.

According to some Republicans, the success of the party on November 8 may be correlated with Emmers fortunes. They are looking for a considerably larger lead but only need a net gain of five seats to take back the House.

One House Republican who has worked closely with Emmer said, “I think if we pick up 30 or 40 seats, I think that empowers Emmer.” Listen, it’s worse for him if the recruits he invested a lot of money and time in don’t pan out and we only sign up 10. So I believe Tom has a direct impact on our election results.

Stefanik is one GOP figure who has hinted at supporting Emmer.

The majority should be everyone’s top priority, and Stefanik stated in a statement that he was glad to have worked closely with Tom Emmer to achieve it. It will be crucial, in my opinion, to know who put their entire effort on obtaining the majority if we have a good night.

While this is happening, Banks has powerful MAGA allies like Donald Trump Jr. He also hired Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s son as his communications director and arranged for a meeting between members of the Republican Study Committee and the former president at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey shortly after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida this summer. Additionally, Banks is the only one of the trio to have voted to annul the 2020 election results. Additionally, after he implied that he would look into how Democrats responded to the attack, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, directly prevented him from sitting as the top Republican on the committee on January 6.

Although several people familiar with the race said they did not anticipate the former president to have a substantial impact on the election, which is held by secret ballot, any public support from Trump might have an impact on the race.

Republicans close to Banks, a Navy reservist and veteran of the Afghanistan War, claim they have been impressed by his knowledge of national security issues, support for the Pentagon, and attention to the military and economic threats posed by Beijing, all of which have been covered in a profusion of press releases and policy papers produced by the Republican Study Committee staff.

Given his track record as a veteran and outspoken supporter on the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Banks would make a solid candidate for whip, according to Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., an RSC member and fellow veteran.

Even though Banks has voted more conservatively than his opponents, some Republicans have been put off by his quick rise and what they perceive as his blatant ambition and lack of conviction. Critics point out that Banks previously supported Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and worked with her on legislation to block the Trump administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2019 before turning against her; they also mention that Banks previously supported former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations into Trump and Russian interference and Trump’s efforts to enact broad tariffs in 2018 before he embraced so-called economic populism on the right.

But after Cheney supported the impeachment of Trump last year, Banks clearly distanced himself from Cheney: He campaigned in Wyoming and collected money for Harriet Hageman, who defeated Cheney in the GOP primary, while his rivals opposed penalizing or primarying Cheney. At the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, Banks said that Trump had been cleared of the collusion witch hunt while urging him to hold Russia responsible for election involvement. Formerly a vehement opponent of tariffs, as was much of the Republican Party, Banks criticized President Joe Biden last year for removing them from imports of Chinese solar energy, a sector he claimed used slave labor from Uyghurs.

Republicans anticipate that if Banks loses the whip battle, he will compete for the Senate to succeed Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., who intends to run for governor in 2024.

One GOP strategist who has known Banks for a long time claims that he is a stalwart social conservative who is at ease discussing those subjects. However, as he quickly moves through the conference, this source claimed that Banks’ departure from conventionally conservative economics and close support of Trump have been as startling as they are deliberate.

This person stated, “I think he’s unknowable, but I’m not writing Banks off as the winner of the race.”
He hasn’t done anything to demonstrate that he is someone who supports members, so that creates a significant challenge for him, a GOP aide noted.
Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-North Dakota, issued a caution should any of the camps decide to engage in mudslinging during the election.

That kind of behavior will turn me off, he warned, and this is coming from him directly. Three of my very best friends are competing in this member-on-member race. And if that occurs, there will be retribution.

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