Updated Oct 16, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Jim Jordan skeptics begin lining up behind his House speaker bid

Jim Jordan. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is shoring up support from detractors for his bid for House speaker as he prepares to go to the floor for a vote on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The House has been without a permanent speaker for nearly two weeks as lawmakers grow increasingly anxious about avoiding a government shutdown and addressing the Israel-Hamas war.

Driving the news: House Armed Services Committee Chair Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), a leading Jordan foe who told reporters on Friday there was nothing the Ohioan could do to win his support, said Monday that he will vote for Jordan.

  • “Jim Jordan and I have had two cordial, thoughtful, and productive conversations over the past two days,” Rogers said in a statement, saying Jordan addressed his concerns about defense spending, federal funding and agricultural legislation.
  • Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), another self-proclaimed never-Jordan member, said in a statement, "Too much is at stake to hand control of the House over to radical liberal Democrats, which is why we must elect a conservative as the next Speaker.”
  • “After having a conversation with Jim Jordan about how we must get the House back on a path to achieve our national security and appropriations goals, I will be supporting him for Speaker on the floor,” Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) said in a post on X.
  • Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) said on X that "the future and immediate well-being and security of our country is too important and the need for Republicans to move forward united is greater than ever."

What we’re hearing: Jordan was facing a bloc of 10–20 “no” votes as recently as Sunday night, House Republicans told Axios.

  • By Monday morning, one House Republican estimated the number of rebels was “down to 7.”
  • “My bet is Jordan will pull this off,” the Republican said.

How we got here: After eight House Republicans sided with Democrats in voting to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier this month, the party narrowly voted to nominate House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) over Jordan to replace him.

  • But Scalise’s bid quickly faltered due to public opposition from dozens of Republicans, mostly right-wingers but some centrist McCarthy allies as well. He withdrew just a day later.
  • Jordan, a co-founder of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, narrowly beat back a last-minute challenge from backbench Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) on Friday, but a subsequent vote showed 55 Republicans wouldn’t back Jordan on the floor.
  • Jordan spent the weekend working the phones trying to shore up support.

What they’re saying: Asked how he flipped his skeptics, Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.), who represents a district President Biden won in 2020, told Axios:

  • "One honest conversation at a time — you know, the old-fashioned way."

Jordan, in a "dear colleague" letter on Monday, praised the "varied" voices in the GOP conference and pledged to "make sure there are more Republican voices involved in our major decisions beyond the Five Families."

  • He also promised to empower committee chairs to spearhead government funding and military legislation and said he will "tirelessly work to defend and expand our majority."

What we’re watching: Democrats are already sharpening their knives for Biden-district Republicans who plan to vote for Jordan.

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hit Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) on Monday morning for reportedly telling a constituent this weekend he would “probably just vote for” the Ohioan.
  • “Despite his best efforts to hide, it's clear to Hudson Valley families now that Lawler has no qualms with backing Jordan's radical crusade to ban abortion nationwide and defund law enforcement,” DCCC spokesperson Ellie Dougherty said in a statement.
  • C.J. Warnke, a spokesperson for House Democrats' main super PAC, told Axios, "If vulnerable House Republicans want to further embrace the extremist MAGA agenda by voting for Jim Jordan … House Majority PAC welcomes it with open arms and we will take back the House in 2024."
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