Jordan’s implosion in House speaker bid lays bare GOP civil war

By | October 22, 2023

Paul Kane writes:

Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Tex.) described his Monday meeting with Rep. Jim Jordan as “very cordial,” one that ended with the retired Navy fighter pilot explaining why he would quietly oppose the Ohio Republican’s bid for speaker.

Three days later, as a group of Republicans opposed to Jordan’s candidacy met with the speaker-designate, Ellzey remained quiet, again. But he was restraining himself from yelling at Jordan.

“I didn’t say anything. Because I would have said something to him, about him, in front of other people,” Ellzey told reporters Friday.

Jordan always faced an uphill fight to claim the speaker’s gavel, needing 217 of the 221 Republicans to vote for a pugnacious conservative who had turned off dozens of veteran GOP lawmakers who prefer a reassuring steady hand.

What transpired, instead, was a career-defining flameout that burned so many bridges Jordan might never again have a chance to be speaker.

After 200 Republicans voted for him in a public roll call Tuesday, his support slipped in each successive vote. On Friday morning, Republicans retreated to their basement meeting room for another mobile-phones-prohibited gathering after a third ballot on the House floor.

Jordan asked for a secret ballot to determine if he should remain their speaker-designate. Just 86 Republicans, less than 40 percent of the caucus, voted to stick with him. That was a dismal showing for Jordan and quite a bit fewer than the 99 votes he initially received on a secret ballot almost 10 days earlier when he narrowly lost the first nominating contest to House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.).

On Friday, he walked out of the basement conference room and gave less than 90 seconds of remarks. He expressed no regrets about the race, mentioning how nice it was to work with some colleagues.

“I appreciated getting to work with everyone, talk with everyone, I got to know members in our conference that I didn’t really know that well,” Jordan said, leaving without taking any questions.

Jordan’s four years of trying to be a team player — joining the inner leadership circle of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and working with establishment conservatives — fell apart in a one-week span that brought out all those past elements of discord and chaos.

Rather than unifying the group and claiming the most important job in Congress, Jordan further repelled older colleagues who never trusted his recent makeover. He also infuriated newer colleagues who saw the bullying campaign on his behalf as unseemly and dangerous. [Continue reading…]

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