Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is inching closer to becoming second in line to the presidency as House Republicans look to finally settle upon who will succeed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as House speaker.
“I felt good walking into the conference. I feel even better now,” Mr. Jordan told reporters after a GOP conference on Oct. 16.
“We’ve got a few more people we’ve got talk to, listen to, and then we’ll have a vote tomorrow.”
In recent days, some key GOP holdouts, including Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), Rob Wittman (R-Va.), and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), flipped to say they will vote for the Ohio lawmaker—a promising sign for Mr. Jordan who on Friday had 55 Republicans signal in a secret ballot that they would not vote for him on the House floor.
Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) raised concerns in the meeting that included her coming from a district that is just narrowly Republican and therefore they could perceive Mr. Jordan, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, as too conservative, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) told reporters after the meeting. Ms. Greene said that Mr. Jordan reminded Ms. Miller-Meeks that he went to her district and campaigned and raised money for her, even getting supporters she likely would not have gotten were it not for him.
Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), who is supporting Mr. Jordan, told reporters after the meeting that the former wrestling coach should go for as long as it takes to win. Mr. McCarthy won the gavel after 15 voting rounds in January.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), chairman of the staunchly conservative House Freedom Caucus, acknowledged that while his fellow Republicans are upset over Mr. McCarthy’s ouster, Mr. Jordan, who voted against it, is not to blame.
“They need to assign their ire, if you will, to those who they think deserve it, but certainly not Jim Jordan,” he told reporters.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), another holdout, cited Mr. Jordan’s silence on the issue of the 2020 election as a reason for this opposition. He said that as speaker Mr. Jordan would need to have a forward-looking attitude amid the 2024 election cycle. However, Mr. Buck said he will talk with Mr. Jordan and make his decision on whether to support him after all.
Speaking of the 2020 election, Mr. Perry defended Mr. Jordan objecting to the 2020 election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania on Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol in trying to stop the certification of the election.
“I think we all go forward with imperfect information, but he made the best call he could based on the information he had, and his voters sent him back here. That’s how the system works,” he said. “If you disagree with it, that’s okay. But apparently, his voters agreed with that.”
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), who is supporting Mr. Jordan, expressed confidence that the House will elect a speaker on Oct. 17.
Emotions Run High
Ahead of the meeting, House Republicans expressed how they felt from upset to frustrated to confident.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) did not hold back on his opposition to Mr. Jordan.
“We need a speaker, we got a world on fire. But I didn’t put us there. The small group that took out Kevin, and then blocked Steve has put us on the spot,” he said. “So my main concern is as an American, we believe in the rule of law at fairness. And we had a small group of folks who broke our rules and got rid of Kevin. And then a small group broke our rules and blocked Steve.”
“Now they want us to follow the rules and support [Jordan] and I don’t like that. I don’t play a game where the other guy can break the rules and win.”
Mr. Bacon lamented what he essentially called a tyranny of the minority.
“We’ve had a minority of the majority dictate all of us, and it’s unacceptable,” he said.
Last week, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) was initially nominated by Republicans and defeated Mr. Jordan in a 111–99 vote. But Mr. Scalise announced he was withdrawing his candidacy after it became apparent that he couldn’t garner enough support to get over the finish line.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who is supporting Mr. Jordan, said that the past weekend allowed Mr. Jordan to shore up support for his speaker bid.
“It was good to take a pause this weekend and give people time to go back home, see their families, see their constituents, and then give Jim Jordan time to talk to the folks who had concerns,” he said.
Mr. Massie remarked there was a mix of pressure and persuasion to those who had their concerns about Mr. Jordan so that they could come around and support his candidacy. He said there is a 50 percent chance Mr. Jordan gets the needed 217 votes in order to win as he can only afford to lose four votes from his fellow House Republicans.
Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.), a moderate freshman, said he is supporting Mr. Jordan after the House Judiciary chair alleviated his concerns.
“I think that most people I represent want to know that I’m going to have a voice and that their issues will be heard,” he said.
But Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said he is not supporting Mr. Jordan.
“If anybody ever tries to intimidate me, then that’s where I close the door,” he said.
He did not say whether there are people trying to intimidate him into supporting Mr. Jordan, but that he himself feels “very relaxed.”
Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) said her support was conditional on if Mr. Jordan manages to garner the requisite 217 votes before hitting the House floor. If not, the congresswoman said she would vote “present” to try to force the House Judiciary chairman to solidify his support in conference.
“I would also like to remind Jim that Republicans are not sheep and will refuse to support him if he will try to use the same McCarthy intimidation techniques on members on the floor,” Ms. Spartz said in a statement.
Rep. Nicolle Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), who is supporting Mr. Jordan, said that the Ohio lawmaker will represent all Republicans from the conservatives to moderates like herself.
“I always thought that Jim Jordan was the one that could bring it together,” she said.
While she expressed sympathy with those outraged over the removal of Mr. McCarthy, she said that “at the end of the day, we need to find that person who can unify all of us” and Mr. Jordan fits the bill.
Ryusuke Abe contributed to this report.