Jim Jordan makes second bid for speaker : NPR

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Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, right, arrive to a House GOP conference meeting on Friday morning.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

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Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, right, arrive to a House GOP conference meeting on Friday morning.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

House Republicans will try again this afternoon to nominate and unify around a candidate for speaker, after their initial nominee Majority Leader Steve Scalise failed to consolidate party support.

Scalise’s chief rival, Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, is running again and enters as the frontrunner. Jordan lost to Scalise in a 113-99 secret ballot vote. “I think I can unite the Conference and I think I can go tell the country what we’re doing and why it matters,” Jordan told reporters.

At least one Republican, Georgia Rep. Austin Scott, has stepped up to challenge Jordan in a surprise bid. “We are in Washington to legislate, and I want to lead a House that functions in the best interest of the American people,” he announced on social media.

Jordan moves to consolidate votes beyond the far-right

Jordan, 59, has served in Congress since 2007 and has evolved from hyper-partisan outsider who helped start the House Freedom Caucus to hyper-partisan insider, with a seat at the leadership, a committee gavel, a close relationship with former President Trump and a leading role in the ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Biden.

It is unclear if Jordan will fall to the same fate as Scalise, as winning the nomination is far different than winning on the House floor. If all sitting members are present, the nominee will need 217 Republican votes. There are currently 221 Republicans.

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Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., said he was backing Jordan, but also said he would see who else runs and said the “candidate forum matters. The debate actually matters. The policies matter.” A full House vote was not expected Friday, but Garcia said if the nominee was within 20 votes it could move to the floor to pressure holdouts. “In the end, I think the great equalizer is the floor, and the great clarifier is the floor, the lights, the pressure and the public opinion.”

Garcia acknowledged Jordan’s pugnacious style and hard right conservative politics might make him less palatable to moderates and members in swing districts. His district voted for Biden in 2020. “I can tell you [my constituents’] priority is that we have a functioning government. And if that means that I support someone that may be more conservative than me and may be a political lightning rod, but I’m willing to do that, especially if he’s the only candidate.”

Bitter divisions remain

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said he was concerned that Jordan’s supporters refused to back Scalise on Thursday and told reporters, “when you reward bad behavior you get more of it.” Other supporters of Scalise expressed similar concerns, and the mood among House GOP lawmakers was tense as members filed out of the meeting with many saying they had no idea when their party could coalesce around a speaker and get back to work.

Bacon is among a small group of Republicans who has floated the idea of seeking a consensus candidate that would require some level of Democratic support. “At some point when we’ve gone to the end of the well and we’re still at this spot we’re going to have to come up with a bipartisan solution,” Bacon said. He said “a lot of our folks are in denial so you’ve never going to get 8-10 folks on board.”

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This is a developing story.

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