Jordan’s speakership campaign on its last legs

Jordan’s speakership campaign on its last legs

Opposition to Jim Jordan’s speakership bid is increasing, as the Ohio Republican again failed to get the 217 votes he needs to win the gavel.

After halting voting for nearly a day in hopes of securing more Republican votes, Jordan instead lost two more votes on the second ballot. The House then went into another recess, at Jordan’s request, before a possible third vote. The GOP is expected to hold a conference meeting Wednesday afternoon as it keeps searching for a way out of its speaker mess.

Jordan’s total number of Republican opponents reached 22 on the second round of voting. With the list of defectors growing, even after a significant delay, his chances at the gavel are looking virtually nonexistent.

Despite that outlook, Jordan spokesperson Russell Dye said in a statement after the vote: “We’re going to keep going.”

Jordan himself told reporters that he was unsure when a third ballot would take place but vowed that “we’ll keep talking to members, keep working on it.”

He flipped two prior opponents — Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) — but still lost ground in the broader tally. GOP Reps. Vern Buchanan (Fla.), Drew Ferguson (Ga.), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Iowa) and Pete Stauber (Minn.) all flipped against Jordan after previously backing him in the first ballot.

Several other Jordan opponents — Reps. Mike Kelly (Pa.) and John James (Mich.) — changed their votes to other alternative candidates.

“We should all be embarrassed because what’s happening and what’s unfolded. You know whether you liked Kevin McCarthy or you didn’t, whether you thought he was doing a good job as speaker or you didn’t, what we’re doing right now is detrimental to this institution,” said Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.), who voted for former Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) rather than Jordan.

Another New York Republican who opposed Jordan, Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.), pointed to two factors behind the continued floor paralysis: Jordan allies’ pressure campaign aimed at flipping holdouts, and the speaker nominee’s lack of commitment to tackling a thorny debate over restoring tax exemptions for state and local taxes — a big issue for some northeastern Republicans.

“I think that him losing ground is probably evidence that it was a tactical error to bring it to the floor without ironing these issues out,” LaLota said. “I think that somebody advising him thought it was a good idea to try to shine a spotlight on us and to try to shame us on the floor. That tactic obviously didn’t work.”

Jordan strategically picked senior appropriator and Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) to give his nominating speech before the second ballot, but that didn’t win over enough of the lawmakers on the spending committee wary of Jordan’s history of opposing government funding legislation.

With Jordan’s number of Republicans opponents growing, he has lost whatever momentum he had picked up between Friday’s GOP conference meeting and Tuesday’s first ballot. More Republicans may see the momentum shift as an opportunity to step away from Jordan once the third ballot begins, if the Ohioan sticks to his plans to seek one.

Some in the GOP conference, however, have indicated they’re not willing to engage in an extended floor fight for Jordan to continue trying to win the gavel. And others are openly floating an alternative: Empowering acting Speaker Patrick McHenry to move certain legislation on the floor.

Jordain Carney contributed.

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