Who is Tom Emmer? The midwestern House speaker hopeful endorsed by McCarthy

Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer is the latest Republican to be chosen as speaker of the House nominee, as the legislative branch stretches into its third leaderless week.

Mr Emmer, who serves as majority whip, was picked out of a pool of eight House GOP members who offered themselves up for the role.

He will now try and secure the 217 votes needed to become the next speaker – a seemingly impossible task that comes after Ohio Rep Jim Jordan failed to obtain enough party support to grasp the speakership.

On Friday, House GOP members held a secret vote determining they would no longer support Mr Jordan. The Ohio rep was the second Republican to withdraw from the race due to failed backing from the party.

Mr Emmer initially announced his bid on Saturday in a lengthy statement posted to X, formerly Twitter.

“I will always be honest and direct with all of you, even if we disagree. I will never make a promise I cannot fulfill. I expect to be held accountable and you can expect that we will also keep you to your word,” Rep Emmer wrote.

Here’s everything to know about Mr Emmer as he attempts to become the next Speaker of the House.

Who is Tom Emmer?

Thomas “Tom” Emmer has proven himself to be a traditional and reliable conservative, chairing the National Republican Congressional Committee for four years and being elected the House majority whip in 2022.

The 62-year-old was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2015 to represent Minnesota’s 6th District. He serves on the Committee on Financial Services as well as two subcommittees, one on Capital Markets and the other on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion.

Prior to holding national office, Mr Emmer served in Minnesota’s State House of Representatives for six years during which he made an unsuccessful bid for governor – losing by less than 10,000 votes.

He’s been married to his wife Jacqueline for 37 years and the couple have seven children.

Mr Emmer is one of the lesser-known members of his caucus because he’s relatively quiet compared to some of his far-right colleagues.

Notably, while many Republicans were predicting a “red wave” during the last US midterm elections, Mr Emmer was sounding a note of caution telling colleagues, “Don’t be measuring the drapes.”

But despite appearing more laid back, Mr Emmer’s legislative track record is deeply loyal to his party on nearly all fronts.

Mr Emmer has backed legislation that supports parental rights, loosens environmental protections (he has doubted scientific evidence of the climate crisis), is anti-abortion and eases firearm restrictions. He also supported bringing articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden.

Though Mr Emmer voted to certify the 2020 results after Mr Trump’s false claims that the election had been stolen, he has also defended former president Donald Trump when he faced federal indictment over the Jan 6 riots at the US Capitol.

What has Emmer said about the speaker race?

Mr Emmer previously supported Kevin McCarthy in his bid for the speakership, saying he appreciated “his willingness to change the way this institution operates”.

But after Mr McCarthy was ousted from his position in early October, Mr Emmer’s name was thrown into the mix of potential successors – though he initially said he wouldn’t make a bid for speaker.

Instead, Mr Emmer supported the number two House Republican, Steve Scalise. When Mr Scalise’s bid failed, he then supported Mr Jordan, “because [he] stepped into the void with the intent and vision to lead and unite us”.

Former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (left) speaks with Republican Majority Whip Tom Emmer in September (Getty Images)
Former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (left) speaks with Republican Majority Whip Tom Emmer in September (Getty Images)

But now that three GOP speaker nominees have failed to secure support, it’s Mr Emmer’s turn to try.

After Tuesday’s closed-door vote, the majority of the House GOP conference has agreed to back him, including Mr McCarthy who confirmed to Meet the Press that he would support Mr Emmer.

Mr McCarthy previously told Punchbowl News that Mr Emmer was “the right person for the job”.

But what remains to be seen is if Mr Emmer will reach the necessary number of votes - particularly if Mr Trump fails to endorse him.

The former president has reportedly expressed disapproval of Mr Emmer in private, claiming he won’t back him for speaker because he hasn’t endorsed the ex-president in the 2024 White House race, according to Politico.

But the tides may be turning for the majority whip.

Mr Trump told Fox News on Sunday that Mr Emmer called him to say he was Mr Trump’s “biggest fan” – though the ex-president has not issued an official statement of endorsement.

Instead, Mr Trump said he and Mr Emmer “always got along.”