Jim Jordan Speaker Bid Too Close to Call Ahead of Fateful Tuesday Session

Jim Jordan Speaker Bid Too Close to Call Ahead of Fateful Tuesday Session

House Lawmakers Work Towards Electing New Speaker On Capitol Hill

Rep. Jim Jordan, a hard-right Ohio Republican who played a key role in Donald Trump’s bid to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election, is just a handful of holdouts away from being elected Speaker of the House.

Nearly two weeks after a few GOP rebels joined House Democrats in ousting Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California as the chamber’s leader, the drawn-out effort to replace him has narrowed to Jordan, who won his party’s nomination last week despite opposition from several dozen colleagues. Jordan spent Monday working to flip many of his opponents, and told reporters that a Speaker vote would take place on the House floor Tuesday at noon whether or not he had locked up the 217 votes he needed. Despite his latest efforts, Jordan may find himself on Tuesday in exactly the same place as McCarthy—just a few votes short of the speakership.

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Asked on Monday if selecting a Speaker would require multiple ballots, Jordan replied, “We’re gonna elect a speaker tomorrow.”

In the narrowly divided House, Jordan can afford to lose only four Republican votes. On Monday, Jordan made progress towards closing the gap. Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan, who was previously considered a “Never Jordan” Republican, became the latest lawmaker to say that he would support Jordan after speaking with him. Rep. Ann Wagner, a Missouri Republican who insisted days ago that she would “absolutely not” back Jordan, flipped as well. And two defense hawks who had opposed Jordan, California Rep. Ken Calvert and Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, announced they had changed their minds after talking with him. 

Several other Republicans warmed up to Jordan on Monday as well. Four House Republicans who met with him came away with the impression that he intends to allow funding for Israel to be linked with funding for Ukraine, according to Axios. That was notable because many of the chamber’s far-right Republicans, including Jordan, have said they oppose any more US funding going toward Ukraine. Outside of a Monday night meeting of the Republican conference, Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, one of the remaining Jordan holdouts, told reporters Jordan had not offered him assurances on Ukraine, but that he had heard from others that Jordan had been more open-minded about it than he had in the past.

The shift toward Jordan comes after a pressure campaign from Jordan’s allies over the weekend. Many of the Republicans who originally expressed opposition were barraged with accusations that they were preparing to partner with Democrats to select a speaker, a claim they denied vociferously. Sean Hannity’s Fox News show reportedly got involved with the fight by emailing potential holdouts about why they wouldn’t back Jordan. Voting against him on the House floor could further inflame the Republican base.

But some members are still signaling they are unwilling to support the Ohio Republican. Texas Rep. Chip Roy said Monday on the Erick Erickson Radio Show that he did not know how many holdouts were left, “but my gut tells me we’re somewhere south of 10.” By the time they left the conference meeting Monday night, many Republicans were even more optimistic, estimating that there remain only four to six holdouts and that Jordan could secure the speakership by the end of Tuesday, perhaps after only one ballot. 

Colorado Rep. Ken Buck said he still had plans to vote “no” on the Ohio Republican’s candidacy, but added that he was going to have a conversation with him later in the evening. Florida Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart also said he planned to vote against Jordan. Bacon said he is opposed to Jordan’s bid, though he doesn’t like to use the term “hard no,” adding that he felt he could get past their policy differences, but that he had a problem with the process. Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly was also a “no,” several news outlets reported, leaving Jordan short votes Monday night. 

Several lawmakers declined to take clear positions on his candidacy. Arizona Rep. Juan Ciscomani told reporters he would announce his decision on Tuesday. New York Rep. Mike Lawler, who represents a district that voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, was recorded Sunday saying that he would not stand in the way of Jordan’s nomination if other Republicans were backing him. However, he also stated Monday night that he planned to vote for McCarthy, making Jordan’s path appear tenuous.

“I don’t think that it will be easy for Jim to govern if he doesn’t have wisdom to work with the members before you put them into intimidation and public pressure on the floor,” said Indiana Rep. Victoria Spartz, who said she planned to vote “present” if Jordan wouldn’t otherwise get the votes.

If Jordan ultimately secures the 217 votes he needs, it would mark a striking turn in a political career where he has gained a reputation as more of a bomb-thrower than a dealmaker.

“He would be the most conservative speaker chosen by the House in at least 80 years,” says Dr. Matthew Green, a politics professor at the Catholic University of America who authored a book on the historical role of the Speaker.

Along with concerns about Jordan’s stance on Ukraine, some Republicans have pointed to Jordan’s support of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election ahead of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as why he should never be allowed to hold the speaker’s gavel.

“Jim Jordan was involved in Trump’s conspiracy to steal the election and seize power; he urged that Pence refuse to count lawful electoral votes,” former House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney posted on X on Friday. “If Rs nominate Jordan to be Speaker, they will be abandoning the Constitution. They’ll lose the House majority and they’ll deserve to.”

One person who thinks Jordan may get it done? McCarthy himself.

Asked by a reporter midday Monday if Jordan could succeed on the floor Tuesday, the previous Speaker replied simply “Yes.” 

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