Politics

Jordan wins House GOP’s latest speaker nod — but still lacks the votes

Rep. Jim Jordan defeated Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) in a secret ballot vote Friday, becoming the second House Republican this week to secure the speakership nomination while lacking the votes he needs on the floor.

After House Republicans huddled behind closed doors to hear pitches from the two men, the Ohioan emerged victorious with 124 votes. The GOP conference then held a secret ballot vote to gauge how many of them would support Jordan on the floor, with 55 members voting that they’re still opposed.

Jordan will need to shave off more than 50 of those holdouts in order to meet the bar of 217 that’s required to win the speakership on the House floor.

His allies believe he will be able to sway some of these holdouts over the weekend, with members breaking until votes on Tuesday. They’re betting that Jordan critics will cave under pressure as grassroots activists, conservative talk-show hosts, and fellow GOP lawmakers grow louder in their push for Jordan to get the gavel.

“What is going to happen is, they are going to vote on the floor, and then they hear from the grassroots,” said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) who said Jordan’s holdouts will face a blistering response from the party base.

Burchett also said he believes Jordan allies are likely threatening primary challenges to any lawmaker who might oppose the Ohioan, quipping that their thinking is along the lines of: “I’ll bust his ass.”

Despite those types of threats, other Republicans signaled they are holding strong in their opposition.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) voted against Jordan on Friday and that it would be a “very big hurdle” for Jordan to win his vote on the House floor. Diaz-Balart floated plenty of potential alternatives within the House GOP ranks.

“There is a very large number of people who I think have the experience, the know-how,” he said.

One Republican familiar with the anti-Jordan crowd, offering an assessment on condition of anonymity, projected as many as 20 hard-no lawmakers on his speakership bid.

But Jordan is getting help from former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who is encouraging the conference to support him and encouraging the Ohio conservative to keep fighting. Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is also backing him, and Scott is pledging to help get Jordan elected as soon as next week.

McCarthy told reporters that Jordan is “in a much stronger position” than Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) was earlier this week, predicting that it wouldn’t take the 15 ballots he needed in January in order to make the Ohioan speaker.

“I think we’ll be able to get it on the first one,” McCarthy said.

Jordan also projected confidence that he would be able to avoid the same fate as Scalise, who scrapped his own speaker bid less than two days after a majority of the conference voted to make him their next leader.

“I’ve been working it for 10 days. We’ll keep up,” Jordan told reporters after winning the closed-door vote. “We would come back on Monday, like normal, and hopefully we’re going to the floor … I think we’re going to get 217.”

But there’s still deep skepticism in a swath of the conference that Jordan will be able to bridge the gap given his four-vote margin — not to mention lingering frustration from backers of McCarthy and Scalise who believe the Ohio Republican’s supporters tanked both men in order to propel Jordan to the speaker’s office.

Other Republicans are already floating alternative names in the event that Jordan ultimately falls short, as many are still privately and publicly speculating about.

“When you reward bad behavior, you get more of it. So I struggle with that,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said, though he stopped short of saying he will vote against Jordan.

He added that “we need to have enough time for other folks to consider [running] and to come up with a game plan.” Bacon floated other alternatives including Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and McHenry.

Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) said that Jordan should be given “24 hours or the weekend or whatever … to see if he can get the votes and if he can’t get the votes, roll on.”

“This may end up with a compromise candidate,” he added while stressing that he did not mean a deal with Democrats.

Others like Reps. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) are still pushing for McCarthy to jump back into the race. He’s hinted he’s unlikely to do that.

Which brings the conversation to other Republicans viewed as likely to make a play if Jordan can’t capture the gavel.

Republican Study Committee Chair Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), asked if he would jump in, indicated that he wants to give Jordan a shot first. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), a member of GOP leadership, left the same door open Friday — saying members had reached out to him but that he would “defer” to Jordan.

A person with direct knowledge told POLITICO that if Jordan doesn’t get the gavel and pulls out, Johnson is likely to run for the speakership.

And when Emmer was asked about potentially running for the spot if Jordan drops out, the majority whip said only: “We’ve got a process that is going on. We are going to make sure this gets done at the beginning of next week. Jim Jordan is the speaker designee.”

Jordan has been meeting with holdouts ahead of Friday’s closed-door vote as they try to sway his critics, and he is expected to continue those conversations over the weekend.

Some in the GOP say Jordan’s supporters are privately discussing a hardball tactic — amplifying public pressure on holdouts, including threatening possible primary challenges if GOP members oppose him, according to two Republicans familiar with the matter.

One of those Republicans, a senior GOP aide, told POLITICO that multiple members of the NRCC Patriots Program of vulnerable members have received “veiled threats” from Jordan allies.

When asked for comment, Jordan spokesperson Russell Dye issued a blanket statement that called the claims “totally untrue.”

Another senior party aide with ties to battleground Republicans sharply disputed Dye’s denial.

“There were not-so-thinly veiled threats of primaries for those who don’t support him,” this aide said. “We have now reached the phase of this shitshow where bullying the very people who handed them the majority — and then lying about it — has become an acceptable tactic.”

Rep. Jim Jordan defeated Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) in a secret ballot vote Friday, becoming the second House Republican this week to secure the speakership nomination while lacking the votes he needs on the floor.
After House Republicans huddled behind closed doors to hear pitches from the two men, the Ohioan emerged victorious with 124 votes. The GOP conference then held a secret ballot vote to gauge how many of them would support Jordan on the floor, with 55 members voting that they’re still opposed.
Jordan will need to shave off more than 50 of those holdouts in order to meet the bar of 217 that’s required to win the speakership on the House floor.
His allies believe he will be able to sway some of these holdouts over the weekend, with members breaking until votes on Tuesday. They’re betting that Jordan critics will cave under pressure as grassroots activists, conservative talk-show hosts, and fellow GOP lawmakers grow louder in their push for Jordan to get the gavel.
“What is going to happen is, they are going to vote on the floor, and then they hear from the grassroots,” said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) who said Jordan’s holdouts will face a blistering response from the party base.
Burchett also said he believes Jordan allies are likely threatening primary challenges to any lawmaker who might oppose the Ohioan, quipping that their thinking is along the lines of: “I’ll bust his ass.”
Despite those types of threats, other Republicans signaled they are holding strong in their opposition.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) voted against Jordan on Friday and that it would be a “very big hurdle” for Jordan to win his vote on the House floor. Diaz-Balart floated plenty of potential alternatives within the House GOP ranks.
“There is a very large number of people who I think have the experience, the know-how,” he said.
One Republican familiar with the anti-Jordan crowd, offering an assessment on condition of anonymity, projected as many as 20 hard-no lawmakers on his speakership bid.
But Jordan is getting help from former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who is encouraging the conference to support him and encouraging the Ohio conservative to keep fighting. Acting Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is also backing him, and Scott is pledging to help get Jordan elected as soon as next week.
McCarthy told reporters that Jordan is “in a much stronger position” than Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) was earlier this week, predicting that it wouldn’t take the 15 ballots he needed in January in order to make the Ohioan speaker.
“I think we’ll be able to get it on the first one,” McCarthy said.
Jordan also projected confidence that he would be able to avoid the same fate as Scalise, who scrapped his own speaker bid less than two days after a majority of the conference voted to make him their next leader.
“I’ve been working it for 10 days. We’ll keep up,” Jordan told reporters after winning the closed-door vote. “We would come back on Monday, like normal, and hopefully we’re going to the floor … I think we’re going to get 217.”
But there’s still deep skepticism in a swath of the conference that Jordan will be able to bridge the gap given his four-vote margin — not to mention lingering frustration from backers of McCarthy and Scalise who believe the Ohio Republican’s supporters tanked both men in order to propel Jordan to the speaker’s office.
Other Republicans are already floating alternative names in the event that Jordan ultimately falls short, as many are still privately and publicly speculating about.
“When you reward bad behavior, you get more of it. So I struggle with that,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said, though he stopped short of saying he will vote against Jordan.
He added that “we need to have enough time for other folks to consider [running] and to come up with a game plan.” Bacon floated other alternatives including Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and McHenry.
Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) said that Jordan should be given “24 hours or the weekend or whatever … to see if he can get the votes and if he can’t get the votes, roll on.”
“This may end up with a compromise candidate,” he added while stressing that he did not mean a deal with Democrats.
Others like Reps. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) are still pushing for McCarthy to jump back into the race. He’s hinted he’s unlikely to do that.
Which brings the conversation to other Republicans viewed as likely to make a play if Jordan can’t capture the gavel.
Republican Study Committee Chair Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), asked if he would jump in, indicated that he wants to give Jordan a shot first. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), a member of GOP leadership, left the same door open Friday — saying members had reached out to him but that he would “defer” to Jordan.
A person with direct knowledge told POLITICO that if Jordan doesn’t get the gavel and pulls out, Johnson is likely to run for the speakership.
And when Emmer was asked about potentially running for the spot if Jordan drops out, the majority whip said only: “We’ve got a process that is going on. We are going to make sure this gets done at the beginning of next week. Jim Jordan is the speaker designee.”
Jordan has been meeting with holdouts ahead of Friday’s closed-door vote as they try to sway his critics, and he is expected to continue those conversations over the weekend.
Some in the GOP say Jordan’s supporters are privately discussing a hardball tactic — amplifying public pressure on holdouts, including threatening possible primary challenges if GOP members oppose him, according to two Republicans familiar with the matter.
One of those Republicans, a senior GOP aide, told POLITICO that multiple members of the NRCC Patriots Program of vulnerable members have received “veiled threats” from Jordan allies.
When asked for comment, Jordan spokesperson Russell Dye issued a blanket statement that called the claims “totally untrue.”
Another senior party aide with ties to battleground Republicans sharply disputed Dye’s denial.
“There were not-so-thinly veiled threats of primaries for those who don’t support him,” this aide said. “We have now reached the phase of this shitshow where bullying the very people who handed them the majority — and then lying about it — has become an acceptable tactic.”  

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