Oct 16, 2023 - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts persist as Jim Jordan plows ahead on House speaker vote

GOP speaker nominee Jim Jordan. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) faces a small but resolute rump conference of Republicans vowing to oppose his bid for House speaker as he moves ahead with plans to hold a floor vote on Tuesday.

Why it matters: There are still enough GOP lawmakers publicly opposed to the Judiciary Committee chair and GOP speaker nominee to keep him from winning on the House floor.

  • With Republicans holding just a narrow majority in the House, they can only afford to lose a handful of votes when Democrats are unified behind Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

Driving the news: House Republicans met for a conference meeting on Monday evening at which Jordan heard out complaints and tried to respond to them in order to shore up support, according to members who attended.

  • But more than half a dozen Republicans coming in and out of the meeting said they still plan to vote against Jordan.
  • Some Republicans are still upset about the removal of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) or the refusal of some Republicans to unify around Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) after he won the party's nomination for speaker.
  • Some concerns date back much further: "Jim at some point, if he's going to lead this conference ... is going to have to be strong and say Donald Trump didn't win the [2020] election," said Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.).

State of play: Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) said they plan to vote for Scalise, with Kelly saying, "We had an election last week and we elected Steve Scalise, and because people didn't like the fact that their guy … didn't get elected, they demanded we have another election."

  • Reps. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) and Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) said they will vote for McCarthy. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said he is "opposed" to Jordan as well, but didn't say how he'd vote.
  • Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) wants Jordan to keep working privately to secure the votes he needs, rather than going straight to the floor. If he's short on the first ballot, she said, "the best I can do is maybe vote 'present.'"
  • Jordan also faces several undecideds. "I'm really just trying to listen to all sides," Biden-district Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.) told Axios. "I think tonight was important to listen to where everyone's coming from, the frustrations."

The intrigue: Some frustrations also stem from the tactics Jordan and company allegedly used to try to flip skeptics over the weekend.

  • "I'm a really nice guy, I try to get to yes," said Diaz-Balart. "I will tell you, though, a little bit of advice: If anybody is trying to get my vote, the last thing you want to do is try to intimidate and pressure me."

The other side: Jordan and his allies projected bullishness about the vote, saying even if it goes to multiple ballots they expect him to win the gavel in the end.

  • Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) acknowledged the election "may go a few rounds," but "the public pressure, the lights, the camera and the drama will ... make it a little more challenging for folks to go too long."
  • "We need to get a speaker tomorrow," Jordan told reporters. "I felt good walking into the conference, I feel even better now."

What we're watching: Jordan was able to win over several of his detractors through conversations over the weekend, and he is expected to huddle with several more before the vote.

  • "We got a few more people we want to talk to, listen to, and then we'll have a vote tomorrow," Jordan said.
  • Chavez-DeRemer said she will "probably" speak with Jordan before the vote.
  • "We're going to meet. I am a 'no' right now, but I told him I would be open minded to having that conversation," said Buck.
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