While control of the House has yet to be determined, those Republicans vying for leadership positions have begun to make their case. Those changes could very well be affected following what turned out to be a disappointing Tuesday night for Republicans, especially since the red wave never materialized. That will come through perhaps no more strongly than in the majority whip race, largely seen as being between Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who chairs the the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who chairs the Republican Study Committee (RSC). Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), who currently serves as the minority whip, is also vying for the role.
Both formally made clear their intentions on Wednesday, with Rep. Banks on Thursday having sent his proposal to Republican colleagues, which Townhall also received a copy of. This comes after his "Dear Colleague" letter from Wednesday.
He writes: “I am running to be majority whip for our entire conference. I’m asking for your support because I want to listen and to be your voice.”— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) November 9, 2022
He points to his time leading the RSC, his relationship with groups like Heritage and Club for Growth, and serving in Afghanistan.
What Banks emphasized in his letter, beyond his accomplishments and connections with conservative groups and media appearances, is that he wants to be there for all members.
"House Republicans need to remain united, and that means you, your constituents, and our nation must come first. If I am elected to serve as majority whip, I will always keep my door open for members so that your voices is heard in legislation," he wrote with original emphasis. "I will act as a bridge between members and leadership and committee chairs, so that you are involved in shaping our agenda as it unfolds. Lastly, building support will require attention to detail and careful listening."
Citing as role as a veteran and a father, Banks also wrote that "I believe that above all else, we must preserve the things that have made America the greatest country in the world," he wrote with original emphasis towards the end of his letter.
In his presentation to Republican colleagues for "Keeping Our Commitment," Banks opens with another letter that is similar to the letter above. He includes positive testimonials from a range of conservatives, including former President Donald Trump, as well as Reps. Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and Mike Gallagher (R-WI).
Words of appreciation also appear later from from Reps.-Elect Erin Houchin (R-IN) and Cory Mills (R-FL) to highlight the support and impact Banks has had on new and incoming members, including through fundraising.
Making no promises of a red wave or any kind of blowout majority, Banks instead focuses on a 218+ number, with a section titled "Getting to 218+ Together." The congressman looks to get this done as majority whip through "Recon," which involves meeting frequently with members, including and especially committee chairs; "Building a Unit," which details how his whip team will be that "bridge" and "reflect our conference;" and "Breathing Room," which emphasizes there will be "No blindsiding" and makes clear "House Republicans will get credit from our voters for keeping our promises."
Banks' priorities also cover a multitude of issues, including when it comers to "an economy that's strong," "a nation that's safe," the prioritization of social issues with "a future built on freedom," and "a government that's accountable."
When it comes to Bank's likely biggest challenger, Emmer, who was already potentially vulnerable given his stance on social issues, may be in an even more precarious situation given the lack of a red wave. The NRCC chairman, though, like other Republican leaders, nevertheless still celebrated the evening's results.
During a post-midterm briefing on Wednesday, Emmer dismissed the "naysayers," as he made the case they had "delivered." He also sought to temper expectations as he said "no one ever said this thing was going to be easy" and that "I always said that all I could guarantee was that we’re going to win the majority."
Banks, however, given his current position, largely escapes the level of blame, which could in fact benefit him in this whip race, especially if so much blame is put on Emmer.
This majority whip race, and how it may be even further in Banks' favor now, was the subject of a Wednesday report from POLITICO's Olivia Beavers and Jordain Carney:
The reckoning over House Republicans’ disappointing midterm performance could arrive in the form of a shaken-up race for their No. 3 leadership post next year.
And [Banks] may have a stronger foothold than expected over House GOP campaign chief Emmer, his chief whip rival, who announced his own run just hours later. After top leader Kevin McCarthy’s onetime hopes of a 50-plus-seat midterm wave crashed into reality on Tuesday night, the Emmer-Banks battle will likely serve as a proxy for Republicans’ frustrations over their failure to meet expectations with voters, despite advantages both historical and cycle-specific.
Multiple House Republicans are now questioning whether Emmer — who led key spending decisions in battleground races — has a clear path forward in leadership after their hopes of a red tsunami faded into a likely red ripple. A lot may yet change this week, but Banks’ early Wednesday declaration of his candidacy spoke volumes about the Republican Study Committee chair’s confidence. Current chief deputy whip Rep. Drew Ferguson of Georgia is also expected to quickly jump in after months of jockeying for the role behind the scenes.
The whip race is considered House Republicans’ most competitive and heated leadership race, with members assuming for months that McCarthy and now-Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) would become the next speaker and majority leader.
“I’m not sure if you’d call it a consensus, but there seems to be a lot of opinion that Emmer can’t win the race now,” a senior House Republican said, speaking candidly on condition of anonymity. “Colleagues are very reluctant to talk about it, and everybody should be … The people that I’ve communicated with this morning want to line up behind Drew.”
This GOP lawmaker cited the opinions of lobbyists, however — which don’t necessarily reflect lawmakers’ realities.
Emmer has been dismissive about the idea though that Tuesday's results would affect his own race.
Also asked Emmer if slimmer majority will impact his whip bid, and he replied: "I don't know how. We delivered. This is exactly what we thought we were gonna do: We're going to deliver a new Republican majority." https://t.co/JijWYVI2vH— Olivia Beavers (@Olivia_Beavers) November 9, 2022
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), with the support of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), will run for speaker while Scalise will seek the role of majority leader. House Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) also made it official on Thursday that she is seeking to once more be the House Republican conference chair.