Planning for U.S. House majority, Georgia Republicans eye leadership spots

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, is one of three members of the House hoping to become the next majority whip if Republicans take control of the chamber in November's elections.

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, R-West Point, is one of three members of the House hoping to become the next majority whip if Republicans take control of the chamber in November's elections.

WASHINGTON — For months, U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson has been campaigning to become the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House.

If the GOP retakes the majority after the November elections, which is widely predicted, Ferguson has a chance to become the highest-ranking Georgian in Congress. But he will need some luck: Two others are also campaigning for the GOP whip position, and Ferguson is considered a long-shot candidate.

A spokesman for the West Point Republican downplayed his aspirations in a recent statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, saying he was focused on winning reelection in his south metro Atlanta seat and helping colleagues across the nation win, too.

“With the overwhelming majority of folks being frustrated with the Democrats’ one-party rule in Washington, Congressman Ferguson has also been helping both Republican members and candidates in their races to ensure the GOP Conference wins back the House in November — so we can hold this administration accountable,” the statement said.

But Ferguson was more direct in a recent interview with NBC News. Referencing the two other whip contenders, Jim Banks of Indiana and Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Ferguson said they were his friends but he was not backing away from the competition to succeed Steve Scalise as whip. Ferguson currently serves as Scalise’s hand-picked chief deputy whip.

“They’re going to have their case to make, and we feel like we’ve got a great case to make,” Ferguson told NBC. “The whip operation’s not just about counting votes; whip operation’s about getting votes. And we can do that.”

Ferguson also isn’t the only member of Georgia’s delegation who hopes to have a more prominent role under a new Republican majority. U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter is among those vying to become chair of the Budget Committee.

In addition, U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, is poised to receive committee assignments that were denied to her by Democrats, while also assuming greater influence through the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

That would happen if the GOP takes a narrow majority. The man likely to become House speaker, Kevin McCarthy of California, would need to keep the party unified to pass legislation over the objection of Democrats. That would mean the roughly 40-member Freedom Caucus could make or break any undertaking.

Greene writes often on Twitter about what she hopes Republicans will do if they get back the majority: ban abortion nationwide, build a wall on the southern border as a barrier to illegal immigration and impeach President Joe Biden while undoing anything he has accomplished.

“Republicans in the House with a majority will control the budget,” she wrote in August. “We HAVE TO DEFUND every single thing the Democrats have done.”

Carter’s and Ferguson’s campaigns are less visible. Both have been working behind the scenes to build support among colleagues.

After the election, all Republican members will cast ballots to determine leadership positions such as speaker and whip. And then the party’s Steering Committee, of which Georgia U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk is a member, will meet to determine committee assignments and leaderships.

Carter, a Republican from Pooler, said the campaigning for committee chairmanships is already robust because members are hoping to firm up support with those influential Steering Committee members.

“This is actually what we described as politics within politics because it is like running a campaign,” he said recently. “There are three of us who are running, and all of us are working hard.”

Carter said he wants to become Budget chair because he believes it is past time to balance the books and begin bringing down the national debt. He said that can be done by tightening the eligibility for programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

“We have to stop this spending; we’ve got to balance our budget,” he said. “And I know everybody talks about it, nobody does anything about it.”