Updated Oct 17, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Inside the pressure campaign to get Jim Jordan the House speaker gavel

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

GOP speaker nominee Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) ramped up the pressure on his critics ahead of a House floor vote on Tuesday, but some Republicans were warning it could leave him exposed to backlash.

Why it matters:  Jordan got significantly close to 217 votes on Monday, but there are too many public holdouts to coast to a victory on a first ballot.

  • Two GOP lawmakers said they are less likely to back Jordan on a second ballot, which could further hinder his odds of getting the gavel.

Behind the scenes: One House Republican said primary threats have emerged if they don't back the Jordan, with the member arguing that "the bullying tactics need to stop."

  • Jordan spokesman Russell Dye argued that primary threats are "totally untrue."

Zoom out: There's been a massive push to get House Republicans to unify around Jordan, including calls to member offices, conservative TV hosts ramping up the pressure on skeptics and MAGA influencers taking aim at hesitant members on social media.

  • But the push has led to some members to argue that backing Jordan would be "rewarding bad behavior," with one member telling Axios "he's playing nice guy personally but letting attack dogs do the rest."

Zoom in: Some members say they're encouraged by the Ohio Republican's openness to bringing up priorities not traditionally backed by conservative hardliners.

  • Multiple GOP lawmakers said that Jordan told them he would not block legislation linking Ukraine funding to Israel funding, which a Jordan spokesman denied.
  • Other members said that Jordan appeared open to bringing a farm bill to the floor. "Jim seeks my counsel when it comes to agriculture and in where we're at with the Farm Bill," House Agriculture Chairman GT Thompson (R-Pa.) told Axios.
  • A Jordan spokesman told Axios that agriculture "is really important to a lot of members, including Mr. Jordan's own district, and we think conversations about agriculture and the farm bill should continue."

The intrigue: GOP moderates say they're concerned about Jordan's links to former President Trump, and others flagged his ability to fundraise as a weak point.

  • Centrists and frontliners have also voiced a reluctance to back Jordan after his offer to nominate House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) on the floor only on the first ballot, arguing that the move was disingenuous.

The bottom line: Centrists looking to withhold their votes from Jordan mentioned the 55 members of the conference who voted on Friday that they would not support him on the floor.

  • Jordan allies have argued that moderates will cave amid the pressure, with plans to vote despite Jordan voicing that no one should go to the floor without 217 votes during an appearance on Fox News just days ago.
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