House GOP leadership elections are still one year away, but early jockeying has already begun behind the scenes with Republicans extremely bullish about winning back the majority in next year’s midterms.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyJoining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation MORE (R-Calif.) and Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseSupreme Court handcuffs Biden on vaccinations House GOP campaign arm rakes in 0M in 2021 House Republicans call for oversight into Biden's 'failed' COVID-19 response MORE (R-La.) are the favorites to be the next Speaker and majority leader, respectively, if the GOP can be successful in 2022. But the race for the next rung of leadership spots — including majority whip, GOP conference chair and the party’s campaign chief — could get crowded and much more competitive.
While Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryOvernight Energy & Environment — Lummis holds up Biden EPA picks Biden selects Sarah Bloom Raskin, two others for Fed board Democrats race to get ahead of inflation MORE (R-N.C.) is in line to become the next chairman of the influential House Financial Services Committee, he’s signaling to colleagues and reporters that he’s not ruling anything out and could make a bid for GOP whip instead.
“It’s nice to have options,” McHenry told The Hill as he bounded down the steps of the Capitol.
McHenry’s potential entry into the whip’s race could pit him against at least two others floated for the No. 3 leadership post: Rep. Drew FergusonAnderson (Drew) Drew FergusonGOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision Dental coverage for Medicare recipients divides parties MORE (R-Ga.), who succeeded McHenry as chief deputy whip in 2019, and Rep. Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerHouse Democratic campaign arm outraises GOP counterpart in final quarter of 2021 House GOP campaign arm rakes in 0M in 2021 GOP optimism grows over possible red wave in 2022 MORE (R-Minn.), who is in his second stint as chairman of the House GOP campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
“McHenry is the odds-on favorite for whip,” said one GOP lawmaker who has been monitoring the shadow race.
All three said they are completely focused on taking back the House in next year’s elections. Asked if he’ll fight to stay in leadership next term, Ferguson replied: “I can tell you where I don’t want to stay — in the minority.”
Emmer is poised to have another good campaign cycle in 2022, given President BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE’s low approval ratings and the fact that the party in power typically loses a significant number of seats in a president’s first midterms. It would follow the 2020 cycle, when Emmer and the NRCC defied polls and conventional wisdom, helping Republicans unseat 14 incumbent Democrats and defend every single GOP incumbent.
Like McHenry, Emmer isn’t taking anything off the table, including the possibility of a rare third term leading the NRCC, a demanding job that requires near-constant traveling, fundraising and media interviews.
“I was asked. All I said to my colleagues was I haven’t ruled that out,” Emmer told The Hill in a recent interview. “Here’s what I’ve looked at: I’ve looked at finishing what we started. We’ve got a job to do; we still have 12 months to go. People talking about what’s going to happen after that? That’s a mistake.”
But if Emmer leaves the NRCC, other Republicans would be eager to succeed him in the 2024 cycle. They include two of his NRCC vice chairs: Rep. Darin LaHoodDarin McKay LaHoodFour states to feature primaries with two incumbents in 2022 GOP Rep. Mary Miller announces reelection bid with Trump endorsement GOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots MORE (R-Ill.) and Rep. Richard HudsonRichard Lane HudsonGOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots GOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto Lawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection MORE (R-N.C.), who joined McCarthy’s leadership team this year as GOP conference secretary.
Emmer also said it was “humbling” when told that Republicans have floated him for GOP whip but added that “all I’m thinking about is winning the majority.”
Another possibility, GOP lawmakers said, is that Emmer runs for chairman of the Financial Services panel if McHenry can secure the GOP whip post. But to win that gavel, Emmer would need to leapfrog many more senior members of that prestigious panel.
The sheer number of possible outcomes highlights just how unsettled the leadership field is, and also how many young, ambitious GOP pols — nearly all of them white men — are eager to climb the leadership ladder. Internal leadership elections will take place in the Capitol a couple weeks after the Nov. 8 midterms.
As chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has been a regular on cable news and pumping out policy papers and talking points on everything from inflation and the supply chain crisis to China. He also saw his national profile grow when Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiJoining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate Momentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks MORE (D-Calif.) blocked him from serving on the special Jan. 6 committee.
Banks, an ally of McCarthy and former President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger welcomes baby boy Tennessee lawmaker presents self-defense bill in 'honor' of Kyle Rittenhouse Five things to know about the New York AG's pursuit of Trump MORE, could run for GOP whip but is unlikely to challenge McHenry, an ally. Another option might be conference chair, given his messaging experience at the RSC. But sources close to the Afghanistan War veteran said Banks is focused on his work on the House Armed Services Committee.
Rep. Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonDemocrats outraged after Manchin opposes Biden spending bill Trio of former 'Bachelorette' contestants cut pro-Biden ad GOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots MORE, who followed Scalise from the Louisiana statehouse to Congress to RSC chairman to GOP leadership, is also looking for a promotion. As GOP conference vice chair, a natural next step would be conference chair, the No. 4 job in the majority, but that race could get crowded as well.
“My objective here is to be of my highest and best use to my country, our cause and our conference. I have always supported the team and worked hard to help lead on substantive policy solutions, vision and principle,” Johnson told The Hill. “If my colleagues nominate me to continue in a leadership post, I will be honored to do so.”
GOP Policy Chairman Gary PalmerGary James PalmerGOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots Alabama Republican touts provision in infrastructure bill he voted against Mo Brooks launches Senate bid in Alabama MORE (Ala.) said he’d also like to stay: “I want to be where I can do the most good.”
As of now, it’s unclear if Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikHouse GOP campaign arm rakes in 0M in 2021 JD Vance raises more than million in second fundraising quarter for Ohio Senate bid US looks to ward off Ukraine conflict in talks with Russia MORE (R-N.Y.), the highest-ranking GOP woman on Capitol Hill, will fight to remain as conference chair for a second term. When the Trump loyalist ran to replace Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyKinzinger welcomes baby boy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket MORE (R-Wyo.) in leadership in May, Stefanik promised skeptical conservatives she would only stay for one term, then run for chair of the House Education and Labor Committee.
But Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxHouse Ethics panel dismisses security screening fine issued to GOP lawmaker GOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots GOP lawmaker fined ,000 for failing to complete House security screening MORE (N.C.), the term-limited top Republican on the Education panel, has told colleagues she plans to seek a waiver from McCarthy and the Steering Committee to stay on for another term.
“Let’s wait a little while and see what happens,” Foxx said with a smile when asked about her plans.
If successful, Foxx’s move could give Stefanik an excuse to run again as conference chair. And handing Stefanik a second term would ensure that a woman would remain in one of the top GOP leadership spots.
Other women in the GOP conference could also join McCarthy’s team. Rep. Jackie WalorskiJacqueline (Jackie) R. WalorskiRep. Walorski: This Christmas, here's the playbook to tackle hunger Bottom line GOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots MORE (Ind.), whom McCarthy named as the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee, has been mentioned as a possible leadership candidate. And 33-year-old Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) has injected youth, energy and biting criticism of the Biden administration into recent floor speeches and news conferences.
“You can call it a number of things: Build Back broke, Build Back B.S., Biden’s bankruptcy blueprint,” Cammack said of Democrats’ Build Back Better bill. “But it doesn’t matter what you call it because it is still absolute crap.”