Jim Jordan launches fresh speaker bid after Steve Scalise fails

‘I think he’s gonna have a math problem as well,’ GOP rep says as internal party divisions show no signs of softening

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 13 October 2023 11:59 EDT

Related video: Cory Booker says US ‘in crisis’ because of GOP House speaker chaos

Rep Jim Jordan (R-OH) is returning to the race for House speaker for another attempt after Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) failed to get the 217 votes needed from his 221 members to take the gavel.

The House Judiciary Committee chair announced his second attempt on Friday after he lost an internal GOP vote to Mr Scalise earlier this week, receiving 99 votes to 113 for the majority leader.

Mr Jordan is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and has a reputation in Congress as a rightwing hardliner and brawler. He may yet end up failing to get the votes he needs as the GOP divisions appear far from softening.

Since the GOP has a very small majority, Mr Jordan can only lose four votes, and a number of Republicans on the moderate end of the conference have already said they won’t back Mr Jordan, including Reps Ann Wagner (R-MO), Austin Scott (R-GA), and Don Bacon (R-NE).

“I think he’s gonna have a math problem as well,” Rep Mike Garcia (R-CA) told Axios and Rep Greg Murphy (R-NC) added that “it’s going to be hard” for Mr Jordan to become speaker.

The focus has returned to Mr Jordan as he was the only challenger to Mr Scalise, with the supporters of the Ohioan noting his conservative pedigree as a former chair of the Republican Study Committee and the House Freedom Caucus, adding that he has become less and less of a thorn in the side of GOP leadership in the last few years.

Rep Richard Hudson (R-NC) said in a statement on Friday that “we must unite behind one leader with the integrity, the ability and the vision to lead us. I believe that Jim Jordan is that leader and I ask my colleagues to join me now”.

The House Republican conference met again on Friday morning as they attempted to get over the so far insurmountable divisions within the caucus.

The chaos began last week when then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was ousted after eight Republicans voted with all the Democrats to remove him after a motion to vacate was triggered by Rep Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

“We had a process and we had a nominee and people stabbed him in the back,” Rep Pat Fallon (R-TX) said, according to NBC News. “So that’s not something to be proud of.”

Rep Mike Lawler (R-NY), a freshman Republican in a district won by President Joe Biden in 2020, appeared on Bloomberg TV saying that all the options must be exhausted before any Republican will turn to Democrats to possibly make a deal on who can become speaker.

“Any deal with Democrats would be to elect a Republican Speaker,” he said amid suggestions that five Republicans could cross the aisle and back Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

Members of both parties are now appearing more open to a possible bipartisan deal to elect a speaker as a number of Republicans are worried that no one can win a House vote with only GOP votes because of the division within their conference.

Rep Dan Kildee (D-MI), a member of the Democratic leadership in the House, told Axios that “There’s a sentiment building around [a bipartisan deal] among Democrats and Republicans.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, arrives as House Republicans meet again behind closed doors to work on a path to elect a new speaker

Meanwhile, Rep Maria Salazar (R-FL), a member of the moderate Republican Governance Group, told the outlet that “we’re open to anything that’s reasonable,” adding that “bipartisanship is not a sin”.

And Mr Bacon, who has a reputation for making deals across the aisle, told Axios that “at this point, there are enough Republicans and Democrats saying we’ve got to get this fixed” while Rep Greg Landsman (D-OH) said that he “absolutely” is seeing Republicans open up to a deal, saying: “Yes, I mean you’re seeing that.”

A group of 10 lawmakers including members of both parties are having discussions, according to a moderate GOP member.

“The question is who gets you to the largest minority of the majority,” the lawmaker told Axios. “Is it Don Bacon, who gets 20 [GOP] votes and 200 Democrats? Is it French Hill who gets 100 votes from Republicans? And the fewer Republicans, the more dangerous this is — not just politically, but structurally.”

The lawmaker, who requested to remain anonymous, noted that another issue is how many candidates have to fail before members are open to a deal.

“Kevin, Steve, Jordan, Emmer … how many losses do you have to have to make that an acceptable outcome?” the lawmaker asked.

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