The contest between Emmer, the National Republican Congressional Committee chairman; Jim Banks (R-IN), the Republican Study Committee chairman; and Drew Ferguson (R-GA), the chief deputy whip, was highly competitive, with the GOP’s disappointing results on election night injecting uncertainty into the race.
Ferguson was voted down on the first ballot, trailing Emmer by a single vote. The contest advanced to a second round as Emmer and Banks faced off for the No. 3 position in House Republican leadership. Emmer received 115 votes to Banks’s 106.
Proponents of Emmer, who some argued had a stronger edge prior to the election, when the GOP was projected to see a red wave, argued that the Minnesota Republican earned the role for delivering the majority despite it being slimmer than some would have liked.
During a closed-door candidate forum, Emmer touted his time heading the House GOP’s campaign arm, stating that he “never promised anything but the majority,” according to one source in the room.
Banks, a close ally of former President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), made the case to members that he could serve as a bridge between the different factions of the party and had Donald Trump Jr. advocating him.
Tensions between Emmer and Banks rose after Trump Jr. accused the Minnesota Republican of planting a negative quote about Buckley Carlson, Banks’s communications director and son of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, in a Daily Beast article, repeatedly slamming him on social media. Emmer vehemently denied involvement in the background quote.
During the candidate forum on Monday evening, Ferguson touted his experience assisting Steve Scalise (R-LA) in his whipping efforts and laid out data and analytics on his plans for the position. Ferguson had the support of Scalise in the race and locked up a sizable amount of support early on.
With Republicans’ razor-thin majority, the chief vote-counter is expected to play a key role in getting significant legislation across the finish line.