Most Maryland House Democrats paint new House speaker as extremist, threat to democracy

WASHINGTON (October 31, 2023)—Newly-elected House Speaker Mike Johnson is drawing sharp criticisms from most of Maryland's House Democrats, who paint the Louisiana lawmaker as a political extremist and opponent of democracy.

"Speaker Mike Johnson? Anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, anti-gun safety, anti-democracy. This is what theocracy looks like," Rep. Jamie Raskin tweeted Wednesday. Raskin was a member of the House panel that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and was the lead manager in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Johnson was a key player in GOP challenges to the 2020 election results. A Trump ally, he has been an election denier.

Raskin added in an interview on MSNBC that "he is a decent guy, and he is a nice guy, but nobody should be fooled by it."

"Mike Johnson is the kind of guy who often flies under the radar because he touts his extremist views in a quieter fashion than the Matt Gaetz's of the world," Rep. David Trone said on X, formerly known as Twitter.. "But make no mistake, he is an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQI+, election denier who has no business as Speaker of the House."

After three weeks of infighting among GOP members, Johnson was elected Wednesday the 56th House speaker.

Rep. Kweisi Mfume said the three-week impasse by "radical MAGA Republicans embarrassingly placed this Congress in a complete standstill and put the division they bring to themselves and this country on full display."

"Unfortunately, it's likely the Republican majority will now be more focused on an ideology that includes defending attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, criminalizing a woman's right to choose, cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and endangering LGBTQ+ and minority communities," the congressman said on X.

Rep. Glenn Ivey called the new speaker "MAGA Mike Johnson."

The congressman tweeted that the House's new leader "may be a nice guy, but he's a radical opponent of reproductive freedom & LGBTQ+ rights. He supports criminalizing abortion nationwide, no exceptions. And last year, he voted against marriage equality for same-sex & interracial couples."

"After three weeks of chaos, even House Republicans are admitting they can't govern," Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger tweeted. "It's time for them to abandon MAGA extremism so Congress can get back to meeting the urgent needs of everyday Americans."

Rep. Steny Hoyer told Bloomberg TV that he was concerned that Johnson is an election denier.

The former House majority leader said he did not know Johnson well, but held out hope for bipartisanship.

"…He's new, he hasn't been in leadership," Hoyer said. "We will have to see what he does. We know what he's said in the past, we know what he's done in the past. If he goes down that route, that hard-right route, then I think he's in for a rough time. And we're not going to get to the bipartisanship that he talked about and that (Democratic) Leader (Hakeem) Jeffries (D-New York) talked about."

"So hopefully, he now sees with the responsibility of running the entire House, not just a faction of the House, seeks out to come together and have agreements that can have a positive result on our legislative record, a positive result in helping people and a positive result in keeping the government open and operating," Hoyer said.

Rep. John Sarbanes tweeted that "the American people are relying on Congress to put the political games behind us. Going forward, I hope Speaker Johnson will work with @HouseDemocrats to avoid a shutdown, defend democracy at home and abroad, and deliver for our constituents."

Rep. Andy Harris, the lone Republican in Maryland's House delegation, said on X: "I back @RepMikeJohnson 100%. He's exactly the kind of leader the House, Washington, and America needs in this time of national and global crisis."

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