Since Kevin McCarthy was stripped of the speaker’s gavel, Republicans have put up one “speaker designate” or “speaker designee” after another—they can’t even decide on which term to use to pretend these candidates have a real shot at a smooth election. First it was House Majority Leader Steve Scalise—David Duke without the baggage. Then it was Rep. Jim Jordan—Gym Jordan, if you prefer. A series of names came and went, and Majority Whip Tom Emmer emerged as The Guy … for a few hours. You may not have known much about Emmer, but he was at least identifiably top leadership. Now it’s Rep. Mike Johnson. Which … who?
Johnson is worth knowing about, though, even if his chances of actually being elected speaker when the House reconvenes at noon aren’t worth betting on. For one thing, he was one of the intellectual leaders of House efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 win, offering a supposedly constitutional argument for why, even without fraud, Congress should block certification of the results. “It was a fig-leaf intellectual argument,” former Rep. Peter Meijer told The New York Times. Johnson wasn’t just a guy who signed onto a letter opposing certification—he was the guy who came up with the argument:
In formal statements justifying their votes, about three-quarters [of those who objected to the results] relied on the arguments of a low-profile Louisiana congressman, Representative Mike Johnson, the most important architect of the Electoral College objections.
ABC’s Rachel Scott tried to ask about that Tuesday night as Johnson was announced as the latest Republican speaker candidate. Here’s how that went:
While he’s lower-profile and seems more mild-mannered than Jordan, don’t let that fool you. Johnson has described his relationship with Jordan as “like Batman and Robin,” and they vote pretty much in lockstep on key issues. When Jordan was the speaker candidate, Johnson described him as “a faithful friend and brother.”
Johnson tweets regularly about Jordanesque obsessions like immigration and Hunter Biden. He is fully on board with unfounded Republican claims that the president is implicated in his son’s business dealings.
But Johnson didn’t just appear in Congress out of nowhere. Before he was in Congress, Johnson was an attorney for the far-right Alliance Defending Freedom, doing legal work like suing New York and New Jersey to make them accept anti-abortion specialty license plates, suing New Orleans to block domestic partner benefits for LGBTQ+ city employees, and promoting an event described by the Associated Press like so: “Irked by the success of the nationwide Day of Silence, which seeks to combat anti-gay bias in schools, conservative activists are launching a counter-event this week called the Day of Truth aimed at mobilizing students who believe homosexuality is sinful.”
This is the guy Republicans now say should be leading the House: An anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+ extremist who was “the most important architect” of the argument House Republicans used to justify voting to block the president’s 2020 win from being certified and considers Jim Jordan a “friend and brother.” Is he going to be the one to get across the finish line and get his hands on the speaker’s gavel? Stay tuned—Daily Kos will be covering the action live.