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Rep. Jim Jordan speaks outside the Capitol. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

More than 40 prominent figures in the conservative movement plan to send an open letter to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), urging the Freedom Caucus member to declare himself a candidate for Speaker “at once” to replace Paul Ryan.

Axios has obtained a letter — circulated by Ginni Thomas, longtime leader in the conservative movement and spouse of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — stating that current House Republican leadership "has utterly failed" and "proven that it’s part of the Swamp," and that Jordan is the solution. Richard Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, and Jenny Beth Martin, Chairman of the Tea Party Patriots, are among the more th 40 people who have also signed on.

Why it matters: Ryan has chosen to remain Speaker through the midterm elections despite announcing his retirement. But behind the scenes, the Republican conference has been restive and many members privately question whether it’s tenable for him to last out the year as a lame duck Speaker.

  • Now, conservative leaders who have long loathed Republican leadership are seizing this opportunity to promote Jordan. Along with his Freedom Caucus colleague Mark Meadows, Jordan has been a bane of leadership’s existence during his time in Congress.

What they're saying: "Our supporters want to see Jim Jordan be the Speaker, and they’ve wanted that for several years," Jenny Beth Martin told Axios. "We’ve also called for Paul Ryan to step down as Speaker prior to him announcing he would not run for reelection."

  • Asked about the letter, Jordan told Axios: "The American people want results, and I’m committed to bringing that change. It’s as simple as this — doing what we told the voters we would do.”

The backdrop: Ryan has already endorsed Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to succeed him, but McCarthy allies have told Axios they worry he won’t do well in a protracted period of uncertainty, which would allow his opponents plenty of time to criticize him.

Go deeper

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Trump confidante Matt Schlapp interviews Jared Kushner last February. Schlapp is seeking a pardon for a biotech executive. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A flood of convicted criminals has retained lobbyists since November’s presidential election to press President Trump for pardons or commutations before he leaves office.

What we're hearing: Among them is Nickie Lum Davis, a Hawaii woman who pleaded guilty last year to abetting an illicit foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low. Trump confidante Matt Schlapp also is seeking a pardon for a former biopharmaceutical executive convicted of fraud less than two months ago.