With a vote in the full House scheduled for noon on Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan is gaining support in his effort to become the next speaker.
“I feel real good about the momentum we have and I think we're real close," Jordan told reporters Monday.
Republicans made Jordan their nominee in a closed-door vote on Friday, when he easily defeated a challenge from Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia, an ally of former speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was voted out of office 13 days ago. But Jordan fell well short of the 217 votes he will need on the House floor, immediately raising questions about whether he can gain enough support to win the speakership.
Some Republicans have questioned Jordan’s suitability for such a prominent leadership role, given his involvement in a variety of controversies, including the effort to halt the certification of the 2020 election and government shutdowns in 2013 and 2018. Former GOP Rep. Liz Cheney has even suggested that Jordan is a threat to democracy itself. “If the Republicans decide that Jim Jordan should be the speaker of the House, there would no longer be any possible way to argue that a group of elected Republicans could be counted on to defend the Constitution,” she said in a recent speech. Former Speaker John Boehner, another establishment figure chased from office by hard-right rebels, described Jordan as a “legislative terrorist” who spent most of his time “tearing things apart.”
Applying pressure: Jordan and his backers — who include former president Donald Trump — have waged an intense campaign to pressure the more than 50 GOP lawmakers who said they are undecided or opposed to the Ohio Republican’s candidacy. A handful of key lawmakers who had declared they were no votes — including House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers of Alabama; Rep. Ken Calvert of California, who leads the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee; and Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, who said last week that she would “absolutely not” vote for Jordan — announced Monday that they are now backing him, suggesting that opposition is starting to crack.
After Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas said early Monday that Republicans may need to work with Democrats to elect a bipartisan speaker, some Republicans say they are now supporting Jordan to ensure that Democrats play no role in electing the next speaker. “Too much is at stake to hand control of the House over to radical liberal Democrats, which is why we must elect a conservative as the next Speaker,” Wagner wrote on social media.
Fox News host Sean Hannity has entered the fray, as well. According to Juliegrace Brufke of Axios, Hannity’s show sent emails to potential no votes making it clear that the influential right-wing opinion maker is backing Jordan. “Hannity would like to know why during a war breaking out between Israel and Hamas, with the war in Ukraine, with the wide open borders, with a budget that's unfinished why would Rep. xxxx be against Jim Jordan for speaker?” the email reportedly says. “Please let us know when Rep xxx plans on opening the People's House so work can be done. Lastly, are there any conditions Rep xxxx will work with Democrats on the process of electing a new speaker?”
The scheduling of a public floor vote is also designed to pressure reluctant Republican lawmakers, says analyst Chris Kreuger of TD Cowen Washington Research Group. “Jordan strategy to force the public House vote to put GOP holdouts on record — and invite ire of MAGA grassroots given Trump's support of Jordan,” Kreuger wrote Monday.
Some Republicans may end up supporting Jordan just to put an end to the chaos that has engulfed the House for nearly two weeks — but the vote could be a perilous one for GOP lawmakers from districts that went for Joe Biden in 2020. “It’s a grueling decision for the GOP lawmakers who fear Jordan’s scorched-earth brand of politics won’t suit their swing districts and could alienate the independent voters they rely on to get elected,” Sahil Kapur of NBC News writes.
The bottom line: All in all, momentum appears to be building for Jordan, who appeared to be a long shot just a few days ago. “The people opposing him are moderates. Either he gets it or the moderates for the first time ever grow a spine,” one unnamed GOP aide told NBC.