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HomeGeneral“Knock It off!” Speaker Mike Johnson Rails Against Republicans Campaigning Against Each...

“Knock It off!” Speaker Mike Johnson Rails Against Republicans Campaigning Against Each Other

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From endless series of internal party feuds to a dwindling majority, House Republicans have been a source of comic relief as the elections draw close. Now, they have a new problem: GOP lawmakers targeting other sitting members in their primaries.

A picture of Speaker Mike Johnson who called out Republicans
Source: Pinterest

In at least four primaries, in South Carolina, Illinois, Texas, and Virginia, Republican members are actively campaigning against one of their own. Republicans’ emotions are still raw over the aftermath of Kevin McCarthy’s unprecedented ouster atop the House, making tensions higher than ever.

However, Speaker Mike Johnson has had enough. “I’ve asked them all to cool it,” Johnson said at the House GOP retreat in West Virginia. “I am vehemently opposed to member-on-member action in primaries because it’s not productive,” he added. “And it causes division for obvious reasons, and we should not be engaging in that.”

“So I’m telling everyone who’s doing that to knock it off,” the speaker added. “And both sides, they’ll say, ‘Well, we didn’t start it; they started it.'” Despite Johnson’s comments, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz remains unbothered.

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ALSO READ: Rep. Ken Buck Announces Leaving Congress, Shrinks GOP’s Majority

According to reports, Gaetz spearheads member-on-member efforts against GOP incumbent Reps. Mike Bost and Tony Gonzales. Defending his stance, Gaetz criticized the Republican incumbents, saying they were acting like Democrats.

“I would love nothing more than to just go after Democrats,” Gaetz, who led the charge to oust McCarthy, said. “But if Republicans are going to dress up like Democrats in drag, I’m going to go after them, too.”

“Because at the end of the day, we’re not judged by how many Republicans we have in Congress,” the Florida firebrand added. “We’re judged on whether or not we save the country.”

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The feud underscores how the razor-thin House majority has proven almost ungovernable. Furthermore, the clashes caused gridlock and internal GOP warfare that defined the 118th Congress. 

Yet, as Republicans struggle to hang onto their two-seat majority, they have been distracted by internal party feuds over tactics. Consequently, many fear it will become harder to stay in power, and the primaries will only add to the tension.

Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican, said the mood within the House GOP is “depressing.” In addition, Bacon noted that his party needs to do “some soul-searching.” “It is depressing when your own team turns on each other,” Bacon said. You don’t win when that happens; teams win.

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“We’ve undermined the norms of what we’ve had going back, really, a couple centuries, frankly,” he added. “And now we’re campaigning in each other’s districts. It undermines the team. So, I think it’s wrong.” The GOP primary fights have become a headache, threatening the party in the upcoming election.

ALSO READ: Republican Leaders Face Calls To Resign Over Viral Video of Biden Effigy Beating

Hence, during the retreat, Mike Johnson and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise discouraged members from supporting primary challenges against members. Ironically, Gaetz was doing the exact opposite across the country that day. 

Gaetz rallied in Texas for Brandon Herrera in his bid to defeat Tony Gonzales ahead of the May 28 runoff. According to sources, Gaetz was embracing the split-screen moment. “While the rest of my colleagues will be on retreat, I’m going to be on the advance,” Gaetz said.

As the internal conflict between Republicans intensifies, party leaders worry about the upcoming elections. If Republicans don’t settle their in-house dispute, how will Americans trust them to get it right? Hence, the GOP needs to fix its problems before pointing out the flaws of others.

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