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Inside Trumpworld’s dark obsession with the GOP Whip Race

Election Day is still more than two weeks away and Republicans have yet to win back the House of Representatives, but that’s not stopping GOP lawmakers from focusing on another set of races: the House leadership election.

Behind the scenes, the frenzy is already reaching a MAGA crescendo, with factions from Trumpworld split across at least a few positions — and candidates vying to see who can be the greatest Trump sycophant.

The first question in the House GOP conference election is whether Donald Trump would, as one Republican strategist put it, “shag Kevin.”

Aside from the former president blowing up the speaker’s election — or a narrow majority blocking Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) — the current GOP leader is expected to take the gavel if Republicans win back the House. While Trump’s relationship with McCarthy has always been weaker than McCarthy believes, it is probably wiser for Trump to reaffirm an ally in McCarthy than to create a new enemy. Most sources expect Trump to play nice.

In that case, it’s almost certain that Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) — currently the second-house minority Republican — would remain the second-house Republican as majority leader.

But that’s when things start to get difficult.

If Republicans retake the majority, anyone currently in the GOP leadership can move up a notch. (Leader McCarthy becomes Speaker; GOP Whip Scalise becomes Majority Leader; and so on and so forth.)

But conference chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), currently the minority 3rd House Republican, said she will seek re-election as conference chair, the majority 4th GOP position.

That leaves a conspicuous majority vote opportunity — the No. 3 position in a would-be Republican majority — and potential candidates for the position are in full campaign mode.

The House Republican making the most noise in the race is Republican Studies Committee Chairman Jim Banks. The Indiana Republican raised eyebrows at Trumpworld after Axios reported on the launch of a pro-bank PAC — led by Andy Surabian, Donald Trump Jr.’s longtime confidante, and James Blair — just weeks before the midterm elections.

A Trumpworld staffer who supports Banks’ bid for leadership told The Daily Beast that the PAC would be a huge help to Banks’ campaign, especially since his main rival, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer, is out Minnesota, is.

Emmer has led an NRCC that has raised more than $250 million this cycle. And if the GOP takes over the House, there may be a real desire to reward Emmer for helping usher in a Republican majority.

But those around Trump — not always the best indicators of internal GOP policy in the House of Representatives, but influential within Trump himself — believe Banks’ PAC could be crucial in overcoming Emmer’s argument that he is a cash Cow, neutralize.

“The biggest open question about Jim within the caucus has been his ability to raise funds, and I think the PAC is showing members that fundraising will not be an issue for his operation should he go Whip,” he told Trumpworld -Employee.

Banks has worked hard for Trumpworld — especially Don Jr.’s orbit — but another wrinkle in his campaign against Emmer is that Emmer isn’t his only competition. Georgia Rep. Drew Ferguson also has his eye on the position, and if he could cobble together a solid voting bloc, he could tip the scales one way or another if offered a consolation prize like the deputy chief’s whip.

“Drew has what you would call the ‘southeast bloc,’” a GOP strategist involved in lead races told The Daily Beast. “He’s got a couple of big southern whips whipping for him. Banks, I don’t know, he’s kind of flogging the Trump angle, but that’s his only angle.

However, the Trumpworld sources supporting Banks pointed out that banks may just need that angle.

The supposed ace up Banks’ sleeve is an NRCC donation email that “floated around Save America,” a Trump aide said, referring to Trump’s PAC. The email pitted Trump against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in an alleged poll. “According to a new Florida poll, Gov. Ron DeSantis is 48% to 40% LEADING President Donald Trump in a hypothetical primary for the presidency,” read the now infamous email.

“People went out of their way to say, ‘Please don’t show this to the president,’” someone who spoke to Trump about leadership races told The Daily Beast. This source wasn’t sure if Trump ever saw it. In fact, they didn’t think he would have, because if Trump did, “it’s one of those things that would get a general reaction.”

Banks is well known to the former President, and sources have suggested that showing this particular email to Trump could persuade Trump to support Banks. But that’s not the only confirmation that could play out in this race. Don Jr. has also apparently considered supporting Banks.

“Don Jr. has privately made it clear to friends that he is a huge fan of Banks and would like to see him as the next lash,” said a Trumpworld staffer who supports Banks. “He had planned to remain silent about it, but every time he sees Team Emmer attacking Banks in the press, it becomes more and more likely that he’s going to war very publicly.”

Emmer’s team has been careful not to publicly clash with Banks. But a number of sources have pointed out that Banks’ MAGA credentials aren’t quite as solid as they seem.

For one, Banks said that once elected to Congress, he would join the far-right House Freedom Caucus. But he never did. Instead, he led the RSC – the larger, less conservative group that competes with the Freedom Caucus.

“Deep down, he’s dying to be liked by the establishment. He’s hiring Tucker Carlson’s son, a 24-year-old boy, as his communications director,” said the first GOP strategist, referring to Buckley Carlson, who Banks hired as a human resources assistant in 2019 and who is actually 25 now.

For another, some point out that Banks was an avid supporter of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) — the former Third House Republican herself, who attacked her party over the GOP’s affected ignorance on Jan. 6.

Banks donated $1,000 to Cheney in 2016, mind you, but heresy nonetheless in most MAGA circles. (Banks has since sided with Cheney’s chief rival, Harriet Hageman, which Emmer didn’t even do before the primary.)

And then there’s a tweet from October 7, 2016, right after Trump’s Access Hollywood Tape broke, which Trump would almost certainly hate if someone showed it:

To date, Banks has not deleted it.

But Emmer has his own Trump heresy — including more recent ones. Emmer reportedly floated the idea of ​​censoring Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

All of which means both Emmer and Banks could have more trouble getting Trump’s endorsement than they think.

Right now, both teams are trying to focus on helping the Republicans take back the House.

“Chairman Emmer is focused on retaking control and firing Nancy Pelosi,” Emmer’s press secretary Theresa Braid told The Daily Beast in a statement.

And Banks’ official statement through his spokesman, Carlson, was that “Rep. The banks are working hard to win back control so Republicans can go to work to bring inflation down, boost our economy, reduce crime and secure the border.”

Joys aside, the race could quickly turn ugly. And interfering with the race ahead of the election might be a stupid thing to do.

If Republicans have a big election night, many GOP lawmakers may feel they need to find a spot for Emmer.

“That’s what a lot of people think, if Tom wins big, he deserves a promotion,” said another GOP strategist.

But if the majority of the GOP is more muted, Banks could have a clear lead — especially if Trump favors Banks, sources close to the president suggest.

“McCarthy has made it clear that he is committed to Trump and the MAGA movement for the long term,” said a former senior Trump aide who supports Banks. “Banks is the obvious choice for anyone looking to the GOP’s future, not the past.”

If McCarthy’s majority is small, he could try to strengthen his own position with Trump by supporting Banks – either officially or in more subtle ways. And because a smaller majority would shake McCarthy’s own position as an orator, he might try to do just that.

Still, many sources pointed out that endorsements mean less in an anonymous closed vote.

“A lot of members think if he ran for the Twitter whip race, he would win,” said the first GOP strategist. “The problem is that the race is not taking place there and will come down to that.”

Since the race is held by secret ballot, it is of great help to influence members individually and provide them with a track record of fundraising.

“At the end of the day, Jim Banks needs his peers to vote for him as a whip, and many peers mistake him for a snake. If Banks can’t solve his problem that his peers don’t like him, he’s going to have a real problem in this race,” said one national Republican.

“Jim Banks is the kind of guy who will step over you when you’re hurt,” this agent continued, “and then circle back and say he was the Good Samaritan that saved the day.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/inside-trumpworlds-dark-obsession-with-the-gop-whip-race?source=articles&via=rss Inside Trumpworld’s dark obsession with the GOP Whip Race

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