Meet The Republican Congressman Who Is Angering The Tea Party

Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN)

Congressman Tom Emmer (R-MN)

I almost miss Michele Bachmann – almost. Other than appearing in “Sharknado 3” (which apparently needed a little dash of cuckoo) she’s been out of the limelight, and other Republicans have had to pick up the slack saying crazy things in her absence. Don’t worry, they’ve been doing a fine job of it, but they’re also not terribly pleased with her replacement, Rep. Tom Emmer.

After Michele Bachmann announced her plans to spend more time with her family and perhaps run for Queen of Godlandia in 2016, Republicans found Tom Emmer, a one-time gubernatorial candidate who was no stranger to taking some pretty extreme positions – including wanting Minnesota to ignore federal laws they didn’t agree with. (For what it’s worth, refusing to comply with federal law has become a pretty popular theme with far right politicians ever since President Obama took office, with Arizona being the latest to thumb their nose at Washington.)

Tom Emmer was elected in November and hardly anyone heard anything about his campaign. If he said anything outrageous, it certainly didn’t make national news. After being sworn in, he hit the ground running and again, has been very quiet – which is unusual for a lot of Tea Party politicians. Why hasn’t he been doing morning talk shows on national TV or positioning himself in front of any microphone he can find? Because unlike many other members of Congress, he’s actually doing his job.

From the Star Tribune:

In the nine weeks since Republican Rep. Tom Emmer was sworn in, he has attended an NAACP gathering in St. Cloud, the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Minneapolis and marched in the same Alabama civil rights parade as President Obama.

He has had one-on-one breakfasts and coffees with more than a dozen Democrats and Republicans on his subcommittees and on one recent Saturday around midnight, lambasted his party for holding up cash to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

In other words, Emmer, a one-time gubernatorial candidate who replaced Tea Party firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann, the man who for years made headlines for his conservative fire and edgy ideas, is calming down. (Source)

Remember the conspicuous lack of Republican leadership planning to attend the Selma march which caused a huge stir in the press, eventually leading to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy making an appearance to save face for the GOP? Well, Rep. Tom Emmer made the trip, without any fanfare or arm-twisting.

As you might expect, a lot of Republicans that voted for him are not too happy, especially since he went to Selma instead of addressing their convention last Saturday. A lot of people expected a new incarnation of Michele Bachmann, and even Mother Jones described him as “Bachmann 2.0” during last year’s primary based off his record in the state legislature. The Minnesota Tea Party felt betrayed on the very first day when Tom Emmer voted to re-elect John Boehner as Speaker of the House, and they issued this statement:

Minnesotans from Congressional District 6 put a man in office with the expectation that he would fight for smaller government and more liberty. However, in his first real test vote as a conservative, Tom Emmer voted wrong and against the wishes of his conservative base by voting for John Boehner as Speaker.

Even more concerning to us, the newly elected Congressman failed to return phone calls of many tea party activists who reached out to him on this crucial vote. Instead, Emmer listened to special interest and beltway insiders who favored the establishment’s choice for Speaker. (Source)

I don’t doubt for one minute that Rep. Tom Emmer is still a hardcore conservative; after all, he still votes the party line more than 97 percent of the time. Furthermore, a lot of the district recognized how utterly embarrassing Michele Bachmann was. It’s possible – maybe even likely – that Rep. Emmer is easing into the spot and purposefully keeping a low profile for now, but will eventually turn out to be just as radical with his votes and ideas as Bachmann.

However, I do find the lack of partisan grandstanding and shrill, incoherent speeches that were the hallmark of his predecessor quite refreshing. And while you’ll probably never hear me endorse any of the legislation he votes for, I respect the guy for not going down the same path as Senator Tom Cotton who can’t be reasoned or negotiated with and apparently just wants to watch Washington burn.

How sad is it that a Republican member of Congress has to promise his constituents and his party that he’s still a Tea Party conservative, all because he says that he’s trying to work with President Obama when possible and he’s meeting with everyone he represents, including members of the NAACP? Maybe Tom Emmer has learned from the mistakes of his past and has realized that our political system needs more action and less partisan grandstanding. Or maybe he’s learned that he can get more results with keeping a low profile and making friends instead of enemies. Either way, both the Republican Party and Washington could use more people like Rep. Tom Emmer and less like Sen. Tom Cotton.


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