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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

5 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

8 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.