Rep Ken Buck is getting death threats after refusing to vote for Jim Jordan

‘It is obvious what the strategy has been – Attack, attack, attack,’ Steve Womack says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 20 October 2023 18:21 BST
Related video: ‘I ache for him’: Biden laughs when asked about Jim Jordan’s speakership votes predicament

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Louise Thomas

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Several Republicans voting against Rep Jim Jordan for speaker have revealed that they have become targets of death threats.

Republican Iowa Rep Mariannette Miller-Meeks revealed in a lengthy statement that she received “credible death threats and a barrage of threatening calls” after refusing to back Rep Jim Jordan for speaker.

Rep Ken Buck of Colorado told NBC on Thursday that his office has received four death threats. Rep Drew Ferguson of Georgia has reportedly stationed police at his home and his daughter’s school.

Rep Don Bacon of Nebraska, another GOP member who didn’t vote for Mr Jordan, told Politico this week that his wife received texts and emails, urging her to convince her husband to back Mr Jordan.

Mr Jordan backtracked on a pause on his speakership bid on Thursday (19 October), announcing in the afternoon that the members of the House GOP had rejected a temporary solution to empower interim speaker Patrick McHenry until January.

“We made the pitch to members on the resolution as a way to lower the temperature and get back to work. We decided that wasn’t where we’re gonna go. I’m still running for speaker and I plan to go the floor and get the votes and win this race,” he said, according to the Washington Examiner.

Mr Jordan lost the third vote on Friday morning as 25 Republicans voted against him, up from 22 on the second ballot and 20 on the first.

‘Constant barrage of phone calls’

“Right now is this constant barrage of phone calls ... I have six full-time people answering the phones,” Mr Buck told NBC. “So far I’ve had four death threats,” he said, noting that he has received about 20,000 calls.

Mr Buck added that he had been “evicted from my office in Colorado. I have notice of an eviction because the landlord is mad with my voting record on the Speaker issue”.

“And everybody in the conference is getting this. Family members have been approached and threatened. All kinds of things are going on. There’s going to be some tension,” Mr Buck told NBC.

‘I have received credible death threats’

Ms Miller-Meeks voted for Mr Jordan on the first ballot but chose to back Rep Kay Granger of Texas on the second vote on Wednesday.

“After one round of votes, with my support, he was not able to secure enough votes for the Speaker nomination and my initial concerns about threatening tactics of Jim Jordan’s supporters, including from members of Congress, increased despite assurances,” she said.

“Since my vote in support of Chairwoman Granger, I have received credible death threats and a barrage of threatening calls. The proper authorities have been notified and my office is cooperating fully,” she added. “One thing I cannot stomach, or support is a bully.”

“I understand that voting against Rep Jordan is not popular at this time. I respected Jim enough to vote for him, knowing he did not have the votes to be elected,” Ms Miller-Meeks said.

Wife of Nebraska congressman targeted

Meanwhile, Mr Bacon told Politico that his wife received a number of anonymous emails and texts from people pushing the message that the Nebraska representative would lose his seat unless he backed Mr Jordan.

“He has more courage than you. You won’t put your name to your statements,” Mr Bacon’s wife responded, according to the screenshots shared by Politico.

The tactics of Mr Jordan’s allies are considered to have backfired after he lost further support on the second and third ballots. The pressure campaign often included not-so-veiled threats of primary challenges from the right.

“Jim’s been nice, one-on-one, but his broader team has been playing hardball,” Mr Bacon told Politico on Tuesday.

Mr Jordan doesn’t appear to have been directly involved in the strategy employed by his allies and supporters.

Another GOP holdout, Rep Steve Womack of Arkansas, said that his office has been inundated with profane calls, but “no real substantive threats,” according to CNN.

On Wednesday, Mr Jordan shared his disdain for the death threats.

“It should never happen,” he said. “It’s just wrong, and we don’t want it to happen to anyone, any American, anybody, any member of Congress. It’s just wrong.”

Earlier, Mr Jordan wrote on X that “no American should accost another for their beliefs … Stop. It’s abhorrent”.

Mr Womack said, “Frankly, just based on what I’ve been through – I can only speak to myself and what my staff has been through over the last 24 or 48 hours – it is obvious what the strategy has been: Attack, attack, attack. Attack the members who don’t agree with you, attack them, beat them into submission”.

‘Genuine concerns about the threatening tactics’

Rep Drew Ferguson also revealed on Thursday that he had been the subject of death threats.

“As the Republican Conference designee, I supported Congressman Jordan on the first ballot. Following the first vote, I had genuine concerns about the threatening tactics and pressure campaigns Jordan and his allies were using to leverage members for their votes,” he said in a statement.

“I discussed this directly with Jim, and planned to support him on the second ballot. When the pressure campaigns and attacks on fellow members ramped up, it became clear to me that the House Republican Conference does not need a bully as the Speaker. I cast my vote for Majority Leader Steve Scalise, a principled conservative and unifying leader,” he added. “Shortly after casting that vote, my family and I started receiving death threats. That is simply unacceptable, unforgivable, and will never be tolerated.”

A GOP source later told Axios that Mr Ferguson “told the conference that he‘s had to have a sheriff stationed at his daughter’s school over death threats from the far right. Also one at his house”.

Far-right caucus chair calls threats ‘red herring’

The chair of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep Scott Perry, downplayed the attacks and death threats sent to GOP members voting against Mr Jordan, calling it a “red herring”.

“There are people out in the world that dislike us and threaten us. That’s nothing new. It’s nothing new to any member of Congress. We all know it. That is another red herring,” he said, according to Punchbowl News.

“No one in this town seemed to mind the pressure campaign from all the lobbyists … in January. But suddenly now they mind all the calls, and the emails and the texts,” he added.

In a meeting on Thursday, an ally of Mr Jordan, Rep Warren Davidson, argued that it wasn’t the fault of the group around Mr Jordan that the holdouts were receiving death threats, saying instead that they were getting targeted because they voted against Mr Jordan, Punchbowl reported on Friday morning.

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