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Tags: mike johnson | house | gop | speaker | candidate | votes | ballots

'Little Baggage' Aided Rep. Mike Johnson's Speaker Selection

John Gizzi By Wednesday, 25 October 2023 09:35 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

As Republican House members filed out of their closed-door conference after 10 p.m. on Tuesday, some who talked to Newsmax could not believe what they had done in the past four hours.

After listening to presentations from six contenders for House speaker and then voting on four secret ballots, the lawmakers chose Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., as their designated candidate to succeed dethroned Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

In contrast to the three House members who had won the GOP designation but could not secure the "magic 217" needed to win on the House floor — House Majority leader Steve Scalise, R-La., Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn. — stalwart conservative Johnson, the vice-chair of the House GOP conference and a past chair of the House Republican Study Committee did not have enemies within the conference who refused to abide by its designation on the House floor and thus doomed their speakership bids from the start.

"Mike has very little baggage," one source within the GOP conference told Newsmax shortly after the speakership vote.

Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich., noted that "there was a desire among many of our members for new leadership and a fresh face."

"He's got to make a few calls to some [colleagues], but he has a great understanding of conservative policy and also works well with all segments of our conference," he added. "I never heard a bad word about him."

Moolenaar's characterization of Johnson as a "happy warrior" in the mold of the late New York Rep. Jack Kemp, who was also a 1996 vice presidential nominee, is widely shared.

His stands on social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, both of which he strongly opposes, and firm opposition to further military aid to Ukraine aside, Johnson is known for voicing those views without being disagreeable.

"I don't know him that well, but he's very likable," Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., told Newsmax. "I hope he can raise a lot of money for the [National Republican Congressional] Committee and help those of us in 'purple' districts."

Steel was referring to the Orange County-based 45th District, which gave President Joe Biden 53.6% in 2020 and is considered a major Democratic target in 2024.

Five-termer Johnson, 51, a constitutional lawyer and onetime radio talk show host, was the last standing opponent to Emmer in the Tuesday morning vote for a speaker-designate and drew 97 votes to the Minnesotan's 117.

When 26 Republicans made it clear they would not vote for Emmer on the House floor, he withdrew from the race and sparked the Tuesday evening meeting.

Initially, the meeting was supposed to be a candidate forum in which Johnson and five other contenders made presentations to the conference. Many members expected they would vote the following morning but, at the insistence of Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and House Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., the votes would be held immediately after the presentations.

As one House member told Newsmax, "They felt we had taken too much time on this already."

Johnson's 97 votes gave him a solid base for the evening vote. In addition, several lawmakers agreed that his polished style and radio announcer's voice helped him give a strong presentation.

Johnson gained ground on three successive ballots and finally went over the top when Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., chair of the House GOP Study Committee, and Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., a retired Marine lieutenant general, ended their speakership bids to support the Louisianan.

The final vote was 128 for Johnson, 43 for McCarthy, 29 for Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, 3 voting present, and one for Jordan.

On a subsequent roll call vote, Johnson had 195 votes, with 3 voting present and 23 "no shows." That was a far stronger performance in the last vote before going to the full House than Scalise, Jordan, or Emmer had.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

As Republican House members filed out of their closed-door conference after 10 p.m. on Tuesday, some who talked to Newsmax could not believe what they had done in the past four hours.
mike johnson, house, gop, speaker, candidate, votes, ballots, kevin mccarthy, tom emmer
Wednesday, 25 October 2023 09:35 AM
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