Mitt Romney Confronts House GOP For Elevating Politics Above Experience

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Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who will be retiring from the Senate at the end of his current term, clearly isn’t thrilled with the path the House GOP has taken in trying to seat a new Speaker after the removal three weeks ago of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the position. On Wednesday, circumstances pointed to Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) potentially soon nabbing the role, putting him in line to the presidency past only the vice president. (UPDATE: Johnson is now Speaker.)

And Johnson, who first entered Congress in 2017, has a recent record of extreme positions like avid involvement in opposition after the 2020 presidential election to its results. He helped lead, for instance, the infamous support from House Republicans for the failed Texas lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court that challenged Joe Biden’s wins in several other states. In general, Johnson was a consistent proponent of challenging the results on the basis of supposed problems with the voting process rather than the conspiracy theories infamously pushed by former President Donald Trump and his allies — though all those approaches end in roughly the same place.

“Apparently experience isn’t necessary for the speaker job,” Romney said Wednesday, per journalist Igor Bobic. “We’re down to folks who haven’t had leadership or chairmanship role which means their administration of the House will be a new experience for them.” Johnson had been selected on Tuesday as the House GOP’s official pick for floor votes on a new Speaker after the abrupt withdrawal of House GOP leadership member Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who’d been the third formal selection from Republicans for replacing McCarthy.

Before Emmer, Republicans had been trying to elevate Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), whose extremist approach to key political issues had left Republicans needing support from within their own party alone (rather than from Democrats) to get a majority on the floor… which never materialized.