Jim Jordan's Zombie Speaker Bid Limps Forward
In a whiplash-inducing reversal, Jim Jordan paused his bid, restarted it, and set yet another vote amid strong opposition.
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Updated - Friday, October 20, 2:13 pm EST: After losing his third vote for Speaker on Friday afternoon, Jim Jordan has lost an internal vote on his nomination. He is no longer the Speaker designee. Below is my article from Thursday night on his flailing bid.
It has been a whiplash-inducing day within a chaotic couple of weeks on Capitol Hill. The House has gone 16 days without a Speaker, and that didn’t change today.
This morning, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) canceled a third round of voting for Speaker after steep opposition from Republicans and seemingly paused his bid. Jordan backed the idea of a potential deal that could temporarily empower Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry until January.
This came after Jim Jordan lost his second vote for Speaker on Wednesday. His opposition grew from 20 to 22 Republicans. Jim Jordan’s opposition reportedly sought to methodically demoralize him by spreading out their no votes over multiple ballots to give the appearance of growing opposition. It appeared to work.
From Jim Jordan’s perspective, the McHenry resolution could give him the next few months to continue pressuring his colleagues to support him ahead of another Speaker vote in January. For Democrats, a temporary McHenry solution that would come with assurances about avoiding a government shutdown and guaranteeing Ukraine funding could be something they’d support. But that idea quickly fell apart.
After Jim Jordan announced that he would back empowering McHenry, Republicans went into a 3-hour-plus meeting that went absolutely off the rails. During the meeting, when Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) tried to speak, freshly ousted Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reportedly yelled at him to sit down, and Rep. Michael Bost (R-IL) almost lunged at him.
Opposition to the idea of working with Democrats on a coalition government was deep. Tensions were high. Far-right Republicans would rather continue this stagnation than work with Democrats and govern.
The meeting ended with the McHenry resolution dying and Jim Jordan announcing that he would continue his bid for Speaker. Jordan said he would meet with his holdouts to try and persuade them and then take this to another floor vote tonight. That did not go well.
Jim Jordan spent the afternoon meeting with the 22 holdouts opposed to him. According to multiple reports, every single holdout Jordan met with said they would not support him. Some even reportedly told him to drop out of the race for Speaker. Jordan left those meetings just before 6 pm and didn’t come to a decision about whether there would be another vote until an hour later.
There is now a third vote for Jordan’s Speaker bid scheduled for 10 am on Friday morning, and his opposition is just as strong and could get even stronger.
What we saw over these past few days was the revenge of the moderates. I know the term “moderate,” when applied to any Republican, can appear to be inaccurate given the extremism rampant throughout the party, but of the 22 Republicans who continue to stand against Jim Jordan, they can be depicted as at least somewhat moderate. They feel his extremism, election denial, threatening tactics, and governing style were a bridge too far.
Why is Jim Jordan’s Opposition So Strong
Jim Jordan’s Extremism
Jordan’s ascension within the House is a microcosm of the extremism that has been increasingly consuming the Republican Party for decades. For those Republicans in districts Biden won in 2020, supporting Jordan’s Speaker bid would be political malpractice.
In a profile of Jordan from April of this year, The New York Times reported Jordan’s role in the House GOP’s descent into extremism: “No single member of Congress has done more to push House Republicans to the right, forcing more mainstream and establishment figures in the party to cede ground to the archconservative wing.”
A Jordan Speakership would solidify the House Freedom Caucus takeover of the House GOP. Moderate Republicans have rebuffed that effort so far.
Jim Jordan’s Election Denial
In my article on Tuesday, I wrote about how Rep. Ken Buck’s (R-CO) opposition to Jim Jordan is largely based on his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Buck said that this was his red line on principle and the fact that he believes it would cost Republicans the majority in 2024. This echoed former Rep. Liz Cheney’s prediction about the consequences of a Jim Jordan Speakership:
“Jim Jordan was involved in Trump's conspiracy to steal the election and seize power; he urged that Pence refuse to count lawful electoral votes. If Rs nominate Jordan to be Speaker, they will be abandoning the Constitution. They’ll lose the House majority and they’ll deserve to.”
If you want to dive deeper into Jordan’s role in January 6 and Buck’s stance, read my full article on it.
Jim Jordan Allies’ Threatening Tactics
Aside from the right-wing media pressure campaign, Republicans opposed to Jordan have faced increasingly threatening tactics.
Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) spoke of “credible death threats and a barrage of threatening calls” following her decision to switch her yes vote to a no on Jordan. Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY) revealed a hostile message he encountered online, telling him to “go fuck yourself and die.” Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) has been inundated with aggressive, profane calls. Rep. Don Bacon's (R-NE) wife has been targeted with intimidating messages urging Bacon to vote for Jordan.
Jim Jordan has publicly denounced these threats, emphasizing that no individual should be subjected to such aggression. However, the tension persists, with these GOP members feeling pressured and targeted by Jordan’s allies.
Jim Jordan Can’t/Won’t Govern
When it comes to governing, Jim Jordan is the last person you would want to lead. There is too much at stake with a looming government shutdown in less than a month, Israel and Ukraine aid pending, and all the other legislative efforts currently being held up by this dysfunction.
Jim Jordan has not been the author or sponsor of any bill that has become law in his entire 16-year career in the House. This makes him among the least effective members of Congress. If he were to become Speaker, it’s unclear whether his intent would be lawmaking at all.
Jim Jordan is a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, which has been responsible for much of the congressional dysfunction over the past decade. Jordan has always been a frontline obstructionist.
Former Speaker of the Hosue John Boehner, who was pressured to resign by Jordan and the Freedom Caucus, commented on his obstructionist nature. In a 2017 interview with Tim Alberta in Politico, Boehner did not hold back.
“Jordan was a terrorist as a legislator going back to his days in the Ohio House and Senate. A terrorist. A legislative terrorist.” Later in the interview, Boehner leaned back in his chair, declaring: “Fuck Jordan.”
Jordan is trying to go from being a “legislative terrorist” to leading the most powerful legislative body in America. Let’s hope that never happens.
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