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Tom Emmer Is 2nd Minnesotan to Receive Votes for House Speaker

The previous and only other Minnesotan to win Speaker votes did so 90 years ago

When Colorado 4th CD Republican Ken Buck voted for Minnesota U.S. Representative Tom Emmer on the first (and subsequent second and third) ballot for U.S. House Speaker this month, it marked the first time in 90 years that a Minnesotan received any support to lead the nation’s lower legislative chamber.

Emmer was also the first major party candidate from the Gopher State to receive votes for speaker, as the only prior Minnesota U.S. House member to garner support was Farmer-Laborite Paul Kvale in 1933.

Minnesota failed to create a congressional district map in advance of the 1932 election, and thus all nine seats were elected at-large.

The general election ballot included nine Republicans, nine Democrats, nine Farmer-Laborites, and three Communists with two GOP incumbents who lost their party’s primary also running write-in sticker campaigns.

Led by their party’s incumbent Governor Floyd Olson up the ballot, five Farmer-Labor nominees were elected to the U.S. House that November with four placing in the top four slots: former U.S. Senator Magnus Johnson, Kvale, sitting Lieutenant Governor Henry Arens, and former Republican U.S. Representative Ernest Lundeen.

Newspaper editor Francis Shoemaker placed eighth and was also elected to the chamber.

Kvale, a resident of Benson, was the only incumbent among the five Farmer-Laborites, winning a 7th CD special election in November 1929 to fill the vacancy after the death of his father, four-term congressman Ole Kvale.

Now in his third term, Kvale’s name was placed into nomination for Speaker of the 73rd Congress and received five votes – all from the state’s Farmer-Labor delegation.

That was good for a distant third place behind Democrat Henry Rainey of Illinois (302 votes) and Republican Bertrand Snell of New York (110 votes).

Farmer-Laborites would continue to win U.S. House seats from Minnesota for the next five cycles, winning three seats in 1934, five in 1936, and one each in 1938, 1940, and 1942.

However, the party never again backed one of its delegation members for Speaker, instead throwing their support behind Wisconsin Progressive George Schneider in January 1935 and 1937.

Rep. Kvale would serve five terms before losing reelection in 1938 to farmer and former Lincoln County State Representative H. Carl Andersen.

Kvale sought a rematch in 1940 but placed second in the Farmer-Labor primary to Willmar State Representative Harold Peterson.

Emmer, the current GOP Majority Whip, is the fourth Minnesotan to serve in a U.S. House leadership position following Republican Majority Whip James Tawney (1897-1905), Republican Majority Whip Harold Knutson (1919-1923), and Republican Conference Chairman Sydney Anderson (1923-1925).

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