House Republicans Finally Elect A Speaker

By John J. Duncan Jr.

Thank goodness the Republicans in the U.S. House finally got tired of fighting each other and elected Mike Johnson, a constitutional lawyer from Louisiana, as speaker of the House.

Speaker Johnson came to the House only after the 2016 elections, so I served just two years with him. I did not know him well, but he impressed me as being a very kind, intelligent man. He will be a good speaker.

I was amazed at the number of people who commented to me over the last few weeks about what most called “the mess in Washington.” It seemed that almost everyone, even at non-political events, wanted to talk about the race for speaker.

Michael Reagan, President Reagan’s son, is a conservative columnist and talk show host. He wrote a column about how the Democrats always stick together while House Republicans “couldn’t keep Matt Gaetz and his little gang from teaming up with every House Democrat to take down Speaker McCarthy. Think how absurd this was.”

He added that the fiasco over the speaker has made “the Republicans look like children and the Democrats – the party that is hurting the country in so many bad ways – look like the adults in the room.”

When asked, as I frequently was, I said from the very first that I would have voted to keep McCarthy as speaker. I would never have voted with every Democrat in the House to kick him out of the speaker’s chair.

No one can please everyone, but McCarthy had come close. Ninety-six percent of the House Republican Conference voted for him. All the later votes showed that the Conference was split down the middle or even worse.

Steve Scalise, the second-highest Republican, beat Jim Jordan, the House Judiciary Chairman, 113 – 99. Then, when Scalise could not get enough votes to win on the House floor, he pulled out and Jordan was nominated. But after three long votes of the full House, Jordan couldn’t win either.

Then nine people ran, with the candidate receiving the lowest number of votes in the conference dropping out. After all those votes, the final two were Tom Emmer of Minnesota and Johnson. Emmer won by a vote of 117-97.

But when it became clear he could not unify the party, Emmer dropped out four hours later. At that point, the dean of the House, Hal Rogers of Kentucky, told me it was bedlam and that the House was as near collapse as he had ever seen it, and he has been there 43 years.

Someone told me that it looked like the Republicans were operating a circular firing squad. Bob Griffitts, my long-time chief of staff, has told me for years that Republicans lose elections because we just don’t stick together like the Democrats do.

It seems at times that Republicans fight each other harder than they do the Democrats. But, finally, almost every top Republican leader realized that they were going to end up losing every close race if they didn’t end this mess and come together.

I bet that Johnson himself is finding it hard to believe he is now the speaker. McCarthy, Scalise, Jordan, Emmer, and many others had been in Congress longer, had done more, and deserved it more than he did. But a lot of strange things happen in politics, and many times life is not fair.

I do know that right now, people are still fleeing Democrat-run cities and states. They are fed up with open borders and Democrat inflation, high taxes, high crime, and the entire WOKE agenda. Most people are really turned off by wealthy liberal elitists who look down at average Americans.

And most Americans know, or are beginning to figure out, that the Democrats have gone so far to the left that they are a socialist party, and socialism all over the world wipes out the middle class and gives a lower standard of living to almost everyone.

2024 is shaping up to be a big Republican year if we don’t blow it by always attacking each other.