WASHINGTON — A top House Republican’s little-known past job working with Democrats to change US elections and choose presidents by popular vote threatens to upend 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 contested 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 regarded as the most moderate option, is overseeing House GOP campaign efforts as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, giving him a potential record of success to cite in his bid.

But Emmer’s opponents say his work about a decade ago as national traveling spokesman for the National Popular Vote initiative casts doubt on his suitability for the role of rallying opposition to President Biden’s agenda.

“Emmer is supposed to be the guy who helps us win elections and cares a lot about the party,” a Republican member of Congress who does not support Emmer told The Post on the condition of anonymity. “This is going to cause issues for him inside the conference.”

There are currently three candidates to become the Republicans' whip.
The GOP whip race is is expected to be the only contested GOP leadership vote.
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Three other Republican members of Congress defended Emmer, also on the condition of anonymity, and said that Emmer had disavowed his past position on the Electoral College, which currently favors Republican presidential candidates by giving smaller states greater weight.

The National Popular Vote campaign launched in 2006 to support efforts to overhaul the Electoral College by passing laws that commit state electors to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

About five years after the initiative’s launch, Emmer took a job as one of the group’s paid spokespeople.

“I believe it’s going to end up favoring Republicans … if you believe in our message,” Emmer said in a 2011 video interview posted on the website of Pennsylvania public affairs firm Triad Strategies.

Banks is the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.
Banks is expected to lose to Emmer in the first ballot.
AP

“The current system is not producing candidates and campaigns that campaign 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 president of the advocacy group Citizens United, told The Post, “The scheme to abolish the Electoral College has been a dedicated effort by the radical left for years because they want coastal elites from California and New York to decide the direction of America.”

Hans von Spakovsky, a former Republican member of the Federal Election Commission and leader of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative, said that there’s a reason for the Electoral College, which forces candidates to focus on appealing to swing-state voters across the country rather than major population centers.

“Anyone who supports the National Popular Vote plan has either contempt for, or a basic ignorance of, our federal system and the very careful structure that the Framers of the Constitution set up to ensure that more rural, less populated states are not ignored by individuals running for president,” von Spakovsky said.

The initiative was overwhelmingly financed by Democratic donors, according to the conservative 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 left-wing megadonor George Soros.

It’s unclear how much Emmer was paid for being a spokesman, or exactly how long he worked for the group. 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.

Scalise is currently the GOP whip.
Steve Scalise is expected to be elected unopposed as majority leader in a Republican majority.
AP

The push to reform the Electoral College was propelled by Republican George W. Bush’s narrow 2000 victory over Democrat Al Gore, despite getting 543,000 fewer raw votes, and regained attention in 2016 when Republican Donald Trump won in a shocking upset despite Democrat Hillary Clinton getting almost 2.9 million more popular votes.

So far, just 15 Democratic-led states and DC have passed legislation to commit presidential electors to the victor of the national popular vote.

An Emmer spokesman said that despite his past employment, “Rep. Emmer supports the Electoral College, voted against [Democratic election overhaul bill] HR1, and has consistently opposed Democrats’ efforts to federalize elections in Congress.”

“He is solely focused on taking back the House and views this continued mudslinging as a distraction from that goal,” Emmer’s spokesman said.

It’s unclear when exactly Emmer’s position changed on the issue.

“He tells me that he’s off it — that after he ran for [Minnesota] governor [in 2010] it was intriguing to him,” said one Republican House colleague. “My own position has always been 100% against it.”

The lawmaker called on whip candidates to avoid criticizing one another until after the Nov. 8 election, saying, “let’s run through the tape and then in the days after that, if they want to piddle all over each other, then that would be the time to do it. Not now.”

A different GOP congressman noted that the whip election would be on a secret ballot, meaning that outside advocates won’t be able to apply pressure on Republican lawmakers in the same way that they would be able to do for legislation.

The lawmaker said that he expects Emmer to win the whip race on the first ballot, saying that preliminary vote-counts indicate he’s far ahead of both Banks, the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee and Ferguson, the current deputy whip.

Many have criticized Emmer as not right for the role.
Emmer has been criticized for his previous support of the National Popular Vote initiative.
AP

“It’s unusual for outside groups to participate in a leadership race like this,” yet another GOP congressman said. “And by doing so, I think they’re turning people off. This is a family issue and we’ll settle it inside the family.”

“I think everybody has 12-year-old aberrant positions,” the person added. “The world has changed and I don’t think it reflects on Tom’s ability to be in leadership.”

Former President Donald Trump, who still holds significant sway among Republican officeholders, hasn’t weighed in on the race, but his son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Oct. 23 that Emmer was “a pathetic coward.”

The younger Trump was reacting to fallout from a Daily Beast article that cited an anonymous “GOP strategist” criticizing Banks for hiring Buckley Carlson, 25, to serve as a spokesman. The anonymous Republican said, “Deep down, [Banks] dies to be liked by the Establishment. He hires [Fox News host] Tucker Carlson’s son, a 24-year-old kid, to be his communications director.”

Emmer reportedly attempted to shift blame to a different 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 to the Daily Beast, but now Emmer is trying to throw the staff of another member of Congress under the bus to cover his own ass???”

The whip position will be the third-ranking job in the GOP caucus if Republicans retake the House, behind House Speaker and Majority Leader.

The current third-ranking Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, intends to remain conference chair, which will become the fourth-ranking post. 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.) doesn’t yet have any open competition for the speaker’s gavel.





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