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Spectator USA
Spectator USA
11 Feb 2023
Matthew Foldi

NextImg:Republicans tackle the Super Bowl

Republicans are in disarray… over the outcome of the Super Bowl, where they’ll be watching and even if they’ll be watching it at all. In the days leading up to the year’s premier sporting event, I spoke with dozens of House Republicans to get the lowdown on their plans.

A bitterly divided House Republican caucus is siding with the underdog Kansas City Chiefs by a vote of 17-10 (five who won’t be watching). One congresswoman thinks this because “Patrick Mahomes is fucking hot” while others back them as they have Mahomes and Travis Kelce as constituents.

But some GOP reps are picking the Eagles, because of spousal pressure in Marc Molinaro’s case, or simply because “it’s the Eagles’ year,” according to Darrell Issa.

Michigan representatives Bill Huizenga and John James opted to show some love for their hometown Detroit Lions. Huizenga noted that I didn’t specify what year when asking the question, while James added that he is “very excited because the Lions have a 0 percent chance of losing” the big game.

The Michiganders aren’t alone in thinking outside the box. While Issa represents Californians in Congress, the Cleveland native told me that “if the Cleveland Browns could just get into the stadium,” they would win it all. However, “the problem is getting them suited up” for the big game. While Issa wants the Browns to take the field in Arizona by force, he ultimately caved to reality (which had an anti-Browns bias this year) and said that  “it’s the Eagles’ year.” He sees himself watching the Birds win by 21-14 from his couch.

When it comes to favorite tailgate beers, the House GOP has a surprising number of teetotalers, such as freshman representative Juan Ciscomani and Congressman Tim Burchett of Tennessee. But plenty of others took the opportunity to promote local brews. Representative Stephanie Bice, who cut her teeth in the Oklahoma legislature working on alcohol modernization, told me that her favorite tailgate beer is “any” local Oklahoma City craft beer. Representative Mike Carey rattled off a series of his favorite local breweries, instantly launching into extensive praise of his community. His love for Ohio is no joke: he told me that the Chiefs’ very presence in the Super Bowl is “illegitimate” because of the series of controversial calls that helped them topple the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship.

house republicans super bowl

Congressman Mike Carey with Matthew Foldi (The Spectator)

Other members aren’t picky. Doug LaMalfa told me that his go-to tailgate beer is whatever’s in the back of the truck, “as long as it’s not a hoppy IPA deal.” Representative Lori Chavez-DeRemer also isn’t fussy. She’s a “down-home girl: if you ask me to drink beer, I’m going to drink a Miller Lite, Bud Light.” When it comes to beer from Oregon, which she represents, she said, “I’m an IPA girl.”

Representative Mark Alford, who counts several Chiefs as his constituents in Missouri, said that his favorite tailgate beer is simply “bourbon.” Alford, a longtime local news anchor in the region, is good friends with the rapper Tech N9ne, whose song “Red Kingdom” is an unofficial anthem for the Chiefs. Byron Donalds is also in the anti-beer crowd. “I don’t do beer man,” he said, adding that his drink of choice is Michael Jordan’s tequila. Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks and John Rose are also not beer-drinkers. Their go-to tailgate tipples are Diet Coke and Diet Mountain Dew respectively.

Where will the nation’s leading Republicans be watching? Representative Tom Emmer, the party’s new Whip, will be “home with my better half Jacquie,” drinking some of his home-made IPAs. In his new role, the Minnesotan has to count every single vote in the party’s narrow House majority — he’s picking the Eagles to win 34-27, due to the strength of their defense specifically.

Representative Mike Ezell, who hopes to sneak in some deer hunting before settling down to watch it from his farm in Mississippi. Debbie Lesko will also be watching from home… in a way. The Arizona congresswoman will be making a short trip from her house in Arizona to watch the game, which is being played right outside her congressional district, in person.

In contrast with the Republicans who are watching from locations as varied as their sofas and Glendale’s State Farm Stadium, some, however, won’t be watching at all.

Mike Collins, a freshman congressman who worked as a trucking company executive prior to entering Congress, told me that he is simply “too busy to watch football,” and therefore has no prediction for the game. His favorite tailgate beer, however, is a classic PBR. Collins isn’t even alone among Georgia Republicans in having no interest in the outcome of the game.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, who spoke about her Super Bowl predictions while holding a mock Chinese spy balloon, said that she doesn’t care who wins because her Georgia Bulldogs won the college championship once again this year.

Tennessee’s Republican delegation also wasn’t jazzed about the Super Bowl. Tim Burchett said that he hasn’t watched the NFL in years, and that he thinks “they’re [the NFL players and bureaucracy] a bunch of arrogant jerks.” Burchett is a longtime foe of Big NFL, having voted against the Oilers coming into Tennessee decades ago. He’s not anti-football, however. He was the captain of his class’s 1982 football team. John Rose told me that he used to be a big NFL fan until left-wing social justice protests ruined the league for him (that said, he thinks the Chiefs will win it all this year). And Representative Andy Ogles is joining his fellow Tennesseeans in not caring about the game (he too thinks the Chiefs will win, but told me that he’s not watching and that “I do not care” about the final score).

So what gives with these SEC-heavy states? Both Tennessee and Georgia are home to some of the most highly sought-after draft picks in this year’s NFL draft. It’s quite possible that these members were unknowingly watching future NFL stars.

Most of my Super Bowl-themed questions came at a State of the Union prebuttal media row organized by House Republican Conference chair Elise Stefanik. This is the second annual prebuttal messaging push led by the Conference chair, with over 700 interviews conducted nationally and locally and more than 100 members of Congress and many of their SOTU guests participating.

While the game’s outcome is anyone’s guess, unless you believe that the NFL is “rigged,” some members are nostalgic for the game’s halcyon days. Burgess Owens, a Super Bowl champion himself, hasn’t watched the big game in years. “Gone are the days when sports, and the NFL, gave us an oasis to come together regardless of our differences,” he lamented. “There are good American-loving patriots throughout the NFL — players, coaches and some owners. My good friend, Andy Reid, is one of them. Commissioner Goodell is not.”

We’ll see if Reid is able to pull off the win in just a few hours. That seems to be the consensus in this raucous House Republican caucus.