In 2016, Johnson’s election to the House was overshadowed by the election of another Republican: Donald Trump. The incoming speaker must navigate a challenging political environment with a new, unpredictable president whose early-morning tweets often dictate the day on Capitol Hill. Johnson did so with his fellow members of the class of 2016, and he grew close to several, including Reps. Drew Ferguson, R-Ga., Jodey Arrington, R-Texas, and Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa.
“When you’re together, your class is the best friends you’ll have most of the time, because you learn at the same time and at the same pace,” Ferguson said in an interview. “And this place is full of political landmines, and your class is the only group to step on them together. Everyone is happy to let you do it. You have to learn to trust each other for good advice. “
Ferguson, who previously served in the leadership as Scalise’s chief deputy whip, agreed that Johnson was “dealt a tough hand” with a slim majority and a to-do list. But he said the speaker was viewed by his colleagues as “smart,” “talented” and an “honest, transparent broker.”
Another one of the 27-member GOP class of 2016 is Arrington. As chairman of the Budget Committee, Arrington had a high profile falling for former Speaker McCarthy. But with his friend and classmate already in the top job, the West Texas lawmaker is suddenly back in the mix.
“Mike and I share the same faith. We both have a young family at home. The western part of Louisiana that he represents – the politics, the culture, the values, it’s almost the same as West Texas,” Arrington said.
During the October speaker frenzy, Arrington, too, considered making a bid for the speaker. During a private phone call, the two shared their thoughts on the race. Then, they prayed together.
“I know he feels what we say in the evangelical community: He feels ‘called.’ And I told him that I also have an interest, but I said that I don’t feel the calling like I feel you do,” said Arrington. “It’s clear that God just made a way for him. The timing has to be right. You must have gone through other candidates. And you can just see that there is momentum. “