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Did a Ballot Mixup Change the Outcome of the GOP Whip Race?

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

As Townhall reported yesterday, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota was elected by his GOP colleagues as Majority Whip in the next Congress set to kick off in January after he defeated Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks of Indiana and Rep. Drew Ferguson of Georgia.


The election took two rounds, with Ferguson being eliminated as a result of the first ballot that saw Banks land 82 votes, Emmer with 72, and Ferguson with 71.

On the second ballot, Emmer ultimately defeated Banks 115 to 106.

But, it might not have ended that way if not for an apparent mixup by a Republican member of Congress reported by Politico on Wednesday:

Separately adding to the disarray, at least one GOP lawmaker mixed up planned votes for the first and second ballots in the highly competitive whip race, according to a senior Republican who was in the room. The lawmaker in question intended to choose Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) for the first ballot, but instead put Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.).

That one vote, had it been cast as intended, could have led to a different outcome in the whip battle — since Ferguson ended the first ballot one vote behind Emmer, eliminating him from the contest before the current National Republican Congressional Committee chair prevailed on the second ballot against Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.).

So, because "at least one" GOP member of the House mixed up the ranking of their choices, Ferguson was eliminated — after coming up one vote short of Emmer — leaving Emmer in contention against Banks. 

That is, it sounds like Emmer won the whip race as the result of a misplaced vote favoring him on the first ballot and, if that vote had been cast properly, Emmer may not have made it past the first round. 


If the situation described by Politico's "senior Republican" source is indeed true, then Emmer would have received 71 votes while Ferguson would have gotten 72 in the first round — kicking Emmer out of contention and leading to Ferguson or Banks winning the Whip gig. 

Not exactly the leadership mandate with which Emmer may have wanted to start the new Congress.

This is a developing story and may be updated. 

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