House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan became Republicans’ nominee for speaker Friday, winning a secret-ballot election against Georgia Rep. Austin Scott, a last-minute entrant into the race.
But Jordan’s ability to win the required floor vote to secure the gavel was in some doubt after a rare second ballot showed he wouldn’t win, at least if the vote were held Friday. So GOP lawmakers decided to hold off and take the weekend to sort things out, giving Jordan time to grow his support.
“We’re done here until Monday,” Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., said after the second ballot to gauge how many GOP members would back Jordan on the floor came in at 152-55. One member voted “present” on that second ballot, according to Cammack and Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.
House leaders later announced no votes Friday or over the weekend, with the next votes not until 6 p.m. Monday.
The second vote indicated slightly higher margin than the initial 124-81 vote Friday to nominate Jordan, a founder of the House Freedom Caucus who became an ally of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy in recent years. Still, according to Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, the second-round vote total was “enough to not know if we could go to the floor today.”
Friday’s votes came after Jordan earlier this week lost an internal conference vote to Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Jordan on Friday defeated Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., who announced his candidacy just hours before the vote.
Scott shared his support for Jordan on X shortly after the vote, and a Scott spokesperson later said he won’t get into the race again if Jordan were to drop out.
Scalise withdrew his name late Thursday because several Republicans wouldn’t support him as the nominee, depriving him of enough votes to be elected by a majority of the full House. Jordan, R-Ohio, announced Friday morning he would again seek the party’s nomination.
Adding to the reasons for delay, some GOP lawmakers had left town amid the protracted battle to succeed McCarthy, R-Calif., and some members cited attendance concerns Friday given the House’s narrow party split.
Now, Jordan faces the same challenge Scalise did: Whether he can earn the support of 217 Republicans needed to win a floor vote. It’s not clear whether he’ll be able to do so, especially with raw feelings throughout the conference after another chaotic week.
Several members leaving the extended conference meeting Friday afternoon said they thought Jordan would be able to shore up enough support to pull out a win on the floor next week. That includes House Budget Chairman Jodey C. Arrington, R-Texas, who said he thought it would be harder for Jordan critics to vote “no” on the floor because their votes will be public.
“Jim has an outsider, very credible conservative brand among the base across the country,” Arrington said. “And when you take it to the floor, and people are in primaries, I think it becomes more difficult to vote against him if they felt that way than if it were against an incumbent leadership guy like Steve Scalise.”
‘The math is not good’
Jordan’s initial victory Friday was just a little larger than Scalise’s 113-99 win on Wednesday, which portends trouble on the floor for the Ohioan just as it did for Scalise.
“I don’t know, but the math is not good” for Jordan, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a Scalise backer, said Friday. “I think ultimately, we’re gonna have to find somebody who can truly unify us.”
Another Scalise ally, Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan, said ahead of Friday’s votes that he didn’t believe Jordan could get to 217 votes and that a quick turnaround to considering his bid was unfair to any challengers.
“I like Jim, but I just think that Steve got a raw deal,” Buchanan said. “I think he’s worked hard, he’s earned it and I think if [Jordan] would’ve given him a little bit more support — that really changed my mind a little bit on Jim Jordan.”
Still, Jordan’s backers projected confidence he could lock down the conference’s support.
And in a potential move to show broader support among different factions of the GOP, Reps. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, the Main Street Caucus chair; Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, leader of the conservative Republican Study Committee; and Nicole Malliotakis of New York were set to give nominating speeches for Jordan before Friday’s vote, according to a source familiar with the plans.
Scott, who announced he would run for speaker only hours before the vote on Friday, had also said he would vote against Jordan for speaker.
“If we’re going to be the majority party we need to act like it,” Scott told reporters. “I care more about the conference and us doing our job than I care about who the speaker is.”
“When I woke up this morning I had no intentions of doing this,” he added, noting that he hadn’t whipped his bid. “But I believe if we as Republicans are going to be the majority, we have to do the right things the right way and we’re not doing that right now.”
Republicans met earlier Friday to consider potential rule changes for how they would elect a speaker, but two proposals were rejected and two others weren’t officially offered. But some members have said they want a speaker nominee to secure the needed 217 votes behind closed doors to avoid the 15 rounds of voting it took McCarthy to become speaker in January.
Ellyn Ferguson, Michael Macagnone, David Lerman, Laura Weiss and Paul M. Krawzak contributed to this report.