Oct 18, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Jim Jordan's zombie campaign for speaker

Jordan (right) in conversation with Speaker Pro Tem Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.). Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) appears to be forging on — for now — with a third attempt to be elected speaker, despite winning fewer votes on Wednesday's ballot than any majority party's nominee in over a century.

Why it matters: Even former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who spent years building goodwill with the GOP conference — and weeks negotiating with his hardline critics — did not face this level of entrenched opposition.

  • Jordan, a former collegiate wrestler who has staked out a reputation as a fighter, is so far refusing to accept the writing on the wall.
  • His zombie campaign is betting that stamina will prevail over principle; Jordan's opponents, which include senior Republicans who are openly accusing him of "intimidation tactics," say he's wasting his time.

State of play: 22 House Republicans voted against Jordan on the second ballot, up from the 20 Republicans who voted against him on the first ballot.

  • Democrats maintained their streak of unanimous support for House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who has now received more than 3,600 votes across 17 ballots, according to the Washington Post's Aaron Blake.
  • Jordan vowed to press on — noting that some of the Republicans who defected on the second ballot had previously voted for him — with plans to hold another vote Thursday afternoon.
Screenshot via CNN

Driving the news: Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), a Biden-district Republican who has led the opposition to Jordan, provided texts to Politico showing his wife had been harassed by Jordan supporters seeking to flip his vote.

  • "I believe he's done. He needs to withdraw from this. He's going to lose more votes tomorrow, I know it. I know who is going to cross over and change," Bacon told CNN.
  • "It's time for Rep. Jordan to understand this race is over," Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.) said in a statement, accusing the GOP speaker nominee of "fiddling while the world is on fire."

Behind the scenes: Multiple GOP lawmakers confirmed to Axios that they plan to flip their support from "yes" to "no" on future ballots — staggering their opposition to show Jordan there is no path forward.

  • "The bleeding is going to get worse if there's a round three," one House Republican said.
  • Some GOP holdouts have refused to meet with Jordan even as he has privately made promises on issues ranging from Ukraine funding to the SALT deduction cap — suggesting their opposition is a matter of a principle, not policy.

What to watch: Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.) told Axios' Andrew Solender he's urging leadership to take GOP conference meetings "off-site" instead of holding another "therapy session" in the Capitol basement.

  • "It sounds silly, but let's go to Gettysburg or something," Garcia suggested.
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