WASHINGTON — The little-known past work of a top House Republican working with Democrats to change U.S. elections and choose presidents by popular vote threatens to unravel his bid to rise in the GOP ranks, The Post has learned.
The three-way House Republican whip race between Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) is expected to be the only disputed GOP leadership vote and will be settled by secret ballot about a week after the Nov. 8 midterm elections, which Republicans are favored to win.
Emmer, who is seen as the more moderate option, oversees House GOP campaign efforts as chairman of the Congressional Republican National Committee, giving him a potential record of success to cite in his candidacy.
But Emmer’s opponents say his work a decade ago as a national traveling spokesperson for the National Popular Vote Initiative casts doubt on his suitability for the opposition’s rallying role. on President Biden’s agenda.
“Emmer is supposed to be the guy who helps us win the election and cares a lot about the party,” a Republican congressman who does not support Emmer told The Post on condition of anonymity. “It’s going to cause him problems inside the conference.”
Three other Republican members of Congress defended Emmer, also on condition of anonymity, and said Emmer disavowed his past position in the Electoral College, which currently favors Republican presidential candidates by giving smaller states more leverage.
The National Popular Vote Campaign was launched in 2006 to support efforts to overhaul the Electoral College by passing laws that commit state voters to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.
About five years after the initiative was launched, Emmer accepted a position as the group’s paid spokesperson.
“I think it’s going to end up favoring Republicans…if you believe our message,” Emmer said in a 2011 video interview posted on the website of Pennsylvania public affairs firm Triad Strategies.
“The current system does not produce candidates and campaigns that appeal to everyone in the country. In fact, they focus on certain areas and the result is not necessarily the best policy for the country,” Emmer added at the time.
David Bossie, a close ally of former President Donald Trump and chairman of the advocacy group Citizens United, told the Post, “The Electoral College Abolition Project has been a dedicated effort by the radical left for years because they want California coastal elites. and New York to decide the direction of America.
Hans von Spakovsky, a former Republican member of the Federal Election Commission and head of the Conservative Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative, said there was a reason for the Electoral College, which requires candidates to focus on appealing to voters in swing states across the country. rather than large population centers.
“Anyone who supports the national popular vote plan fundamentally disregards or ignores our federal system and the very careful structure that the framers of the Constitution put in place to ensure that more rural and less populated states are not ignored by individuals. presidential candidate,” von Spakovsky said.
The initiative was heavily funded by Democratic donors, according to Capital Research Center’s Influence Watch, which notes a $1 million contribution in 2011 from the Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros Foundation. Jonathan Soros is the son of leftist megadonor George Soros.
It’s unclear how much Emmer was paid to be a spokesperson, or exactly how long he worked for the band. Emmer did not provide the information to The Post, but a source close to him said it was a part-time job. NPV did not respond to a request for comment.
The push to reform the Electoral College was propelled by Republican George W. Bush’s narrow victory in 2000 over Democrat Al Gore, despite receiving 543,000 fewer gross votes, and regained attention in 2016 when the Republican Donald Trump won in a shocking upset despite Democrat Hillary Clinton nearly securing 2.9 million more popular votes.
So far, only 15 Democratic-led states and DC have passed legislation to commit presidential voters to the winner of the national popular vote.
A spokesperson for Emmer said that despite his past employment, “Rep. Emmer supports the Electoral College, voted against [Democratic election overhaul bill] HR1, and has consistently opposed Democratic efforts to federalize congressional elections.
“He is solely focused on getting the House back and sees this continued bashing as a distraction from that goal,” Emmer’s spokesman said.
It’s unclear exactly when Emmer’s stance changed on the matter.
“He tells me he’s out of it – that after running for [Minnesota] governor [in 2010] it was intriguing to him,” a Republican House colleague said. “My own position has always been 100% against.”
The lawmaker called on candidate whips to avoid criticizing each other until after the November 8 election, saying “let’s run the tape and then in the days after, if they want to piss themselves, then that would be the time. to do. Not now.”
Another GOP congressman noted that the election of the whip would be by secret ballot, which means outside advocates won’t be able to lobby Republican lawmakers the same way they could for legislation. .
The lawmaker has said he expects Emmer to win the whip race on the first ballot, saying preliminary vote tallies indicate he is far ahead of both banks, the chairman of the committee. conservative Republican study and Ferguson, the current deputy whip.
A House Republican aide who does not support Emmer hit back Friday night, telling the Post that the lawmaker is “not doing himself or Tom Emmer any favors by lying to the press about the vote count.”
“It’s unusual for outside groups to be in a leadership contest like this,” another GOP congressman said. “And in doing so, I think they are turning people off. It’s a family problem and we will solve it within the family.
“I think everyone has outlier 12-year-old posts,” the person added. “The world has changed and I don’t think that reflects Tom’s ability to lead.”
Former President Donald Trump, who still wields significant influence among elected Republicans, did not weigh in on the race, but his son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted On October 23, Emmer was “a pathetic coward”.
The young Trump was reacting to the fallout from a Daily Beast article that quoted an unnamed “GOP strategist” criticizing Banks for hiring 25-year-old Buckley Carlson to serve as his spokesperson. The anonymous Republican said: “Basically, [Banks] dies to please the Establishment. He hires [Fox News host] Tucker Carlson’s son, a 24-year-old kid, to be his director of communications.
Emmer reportedly tried to shift blame to another House office for the anonymous quote, prompting Trump Jr to write, “It was bad enough that RINO Tom Emmer had his henchmen attack Tucker Carlson’s 25-year-old son at the Daily Beast, but now Emmer is trying to throw another congressman’s staff under the bus for cover your ass???”
The position of whip will be the third-ranking position in the GOP caucus if Republicans take over the House, behind the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader.
The current third-tier Republican, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, intends to stay on as conference chair, who will become the fourth-tier position. Current GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is expected to be elected unopposed as Majority Leader in a Republican majority and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) does not yet have an open contest for the gavel. Of the president.