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GOP opposition to Jordan grows on third speaker ballot

Not clear what the Ohio Republican's path to victory is, but he vowed to press on

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has vowed to continue his push for the speakership into the weekend.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has vowed to continue his push for the speakership into the weekend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, lost a third ballot for the speaker’s gavel on Friday as his critics’ numbers continued to build, even after an impassioned plea from the man who was ousted from the job earlier this month and retains support from the vast majority of the conference.

Jordan earlier vowed to continue his bid for speaker in a Friday morning press conference, despite GOP opposition to his candidacy running into the double digits with no sign of relenting.

Jordan lost 22 GOP votes on a second ballot Wednesday, a figure that grew by two over the previous day’s vote. On Friday, that number hit 25, despite a nominating speech from the former speaker, Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

“Jim is the right person to take that seat behind me to be our next speaker,” McCarthy said from the front of the chamber, unusual for a speaker nomination speech.

Switching their votes to someone other than Jordan on Friday were Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., who voted instead for Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C.; Rep. Thomas H. Kean Jr., R-N.J., who backed McCarthy; and Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., who voted for former Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.

Anti-Jordan votes on the Republican side included swing-district lawmakers, senior members of the Appropriations Committee and allies of Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., who had to end his own bid for speaker in the face of opposition from Jordan supporters despite initially winning the conference’s backing. 

Critics of Jordan, who weren’t swayed by a Thursday meeting with the candidate, as well as his supporters predicted an even larger count against him on Friday prior to the vote.

Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., a Jordan supporter, said before the vote that an alternative will probably be needed based on the likely results of the third ballot.

“I actually expect it actually maybe to even be less favorable for Jim today … and then we’ll move on,” Murphy said Friday morning. “I think it’s kind of like in the baseball analogy, third strike and you’re out, if that’s the case.”

Rep. Daniel Crenshaw, R-Texas, another Jordan backer, wouldn’t comment on whether he should drop out, but was upfront that the signs weren’t good for him.

“It’s not my place to tell somebody who actually went through the nomination process and has fought for it. You can’t just tell him to step aside,” Crenshaw said. “I can just lay out the facts very clearly, which is the votes aren’t changing.”

GOP supporters give Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a standing ovation as the third vote on whether to make him speaker begins Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Before the vote, Jordan was unbowed, vowing to continue his push for the job into the weekend.

Jordan said the public is counting on House Republicans to lead, and said it is essential to reopen the House to support Israel, unpause the appropriations process and get the chamber back to its committee and oversight work. 

 “We need to do what we told them we were going to do when they elected us and put us in office, and frankly, we can’t do that if the House isn’t open, and we can’t open the House until we get a speaker,” Jordan said at an early morning press conference.

A top Jordan ally, Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, said Thursday night that lawmakers should expect weekend votes. But next steps weren’t clear after Friday morning’s vote, and the GOP conference was set to meet again at 1 p.m. to discuss options.

‘30 percent chance’

Jordan received 199 votes on Wednesday, or 18 short of what he would have needed to be elected speaker. On Friday, absences brought down the magic number to 215 votes, but that didn’t help Jordan much. His support dropped to 194 votes.

Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wis., a Jordan backer wasn’t there Friday to lend his vote; instead he’s in Israel on a fact-finding trip as the U.S. ally battles Hamas militants, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Jordan supporter Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, also was absent.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., who received a unanimous 212 votes from his side of the aisle earlier in the week, got 210 votes Friday with two Democratic lawmakers absent.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., another vocal Jordan supporter, conceded Friday that the odds weren’t good, putting Jordan’s chances at 30 percent.

Still, Massie was looking at the bright side. “When the weatherman says it’s 30 percent chance of rain and you get sunshine all day, you don’t complain,” he said.

Massie said Jordan ought to remain in the race unless over half the GOP conference opposed him.

Massie said Jordan’s odds could improve if his numbers go up in further votes, or if Scalise gives a nominating speech for Jordan. Scalise initially defeated Jordan in the internal conference election, but later bowed out when it became clear Jordan’s most ardent supporters wouldn’t vote for him.

“If he goes in a positive direction and/or if Scalise wakes up on the right side of the bed and decides to give the nominating speech as he should be doing, but he’s not,” Massie said. “I mean, there are small little things that could change the tide quickly.”

Some Scalise backers don’t believe that Jordan did enough to convince his supporters to aid Scalise after the majority leader defeated Jordan in the conference’s first head-to-head vote last week.

“There is no way forward for the speakership,” holdout Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., said leaving a Thursday night meeting with Jordan. “He missed his moment of leadership when he failed Steve Scalise, and that was pretty much everybody’s opinion.”

Who’s next?

If Jordan doesn’t get the nod, it’s not clear anyone else can.

Murphy said viable names that could emerge are Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, who previously considered a bid for speaker but decided against it. Murphy also cited Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., as a possibility.

A long-shot bid by Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., to be elected a caretaker speaker for the rest of this Congress didn’t seem to be going anywhere, at least not yet.

The conference on Thursday rejected a proposal to formally elect McHenry as interim speaker, enabling the chamber to begin legislating again.

House Budget Chairman Jodey C. Arrington, R-Texas, shot down speculation Friday that he’s the favored speaker candidate of his state’s sizable GOP delegation. Arrington was on his way to meet with other Texas lawmakers about the race, but he said he was surprised that his name had come up as a possible sleeper pick for speaker.

Massie joked that maybe the conference should look at more unorthodox methods for picking a leader.

“Somebody told me last night, like when we go into conference, they should tape a gavel under one of the seats,” Massie said. “Like, everybody look under your seat after you take your seat. Ahh, the speaker.”

Meanwhile the bad blood within the GOP conference over the state of play in the race continued to spill out in the open, with Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., publicly calling to remove House Appropriations Chairwoman Kay Granger’s gavel over her opposition to Jordan.

Banks told Fox News Digital that he hopes the Republican steering panel which makes committee assignments will “take a look” at removing Granger from her position. He said there should be “a large conversation in our conference about those who betrayed the Republican majority.”

Ellyn Ferguson, Avery Roe, Justin Papp, Nina Heller and Paul M. Krawzak contributed to this report.

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