Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is marching ahead with his Speakership bid despite increasingly grim signs for his path to the gavel, eyeing another floor vote Thursday even as GOP lawmakers signal that his opposition is likely to grow.
Jordan lost 22 Republican votes on the second ballot Wednesday — two more GOP defectors than the day before — securing just 199 votes, to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’s (D-N.Y.) 212. The tally beat expectations from Jordan supporters, who had predicted he would lose around eight more Republicans, but it also marked the first time in nearly a century that a majority-party Speaker nominee received fewer than 200 votes.
Jordan, nonetheless, is vowing to remain in the race and is planning to take his nomination back to the floor for a third ballot Thursday. Several GOP lawmakers, however, expect new detractors to join the fold.
“The expectation is, at least from the chatter I’m hearing, is that there will be some others that will move away from the Jordan candidacy,” Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), who voted for Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) on the first two ballots, told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s very clear that those numbers are not there and that it’s gonna get a lot worse,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), who also backed Scalise in the first two rounds of voting, said after Jordan’s second failed vote, noting that he does not think the Ohio Republican has a path to the gavel.
One centrist Republican who supported Jordan on the first two ballots said they are planning to jump ship.
“I committed to two votes. I’m not able to on the 3rd,” the lawmaker told The Hill in a text message.
Another Republican told The Hill that slowly increasing the number of votes against Jordan is a strategy among those opposing his candidacy.
Jordan, for his part, is maintaining optimism in the face of mounting adversity, telling reporters that he intends to stay in the race as he continues to have conversations with members of the conference.
“We picked up some today, a couple dropped off, but they voted for me before. I think they can come back again,” Jordan said. “So we’ll keep talking to members. Keep working on it.”
Four Republicans who voted for Jordan on Tuesday flipped their votes against him Wednesday, while two Tuesday holdouts changed their votes to Jordan. He also picked up support from a Republican who had been absent Tuesday. But the new support was not enough to outweigh his fresh opposition.
Still, his office also is remaining defiant.
“We’re going to keep going,” Jordan spokesperson Russell Dye said shortly following Wednesday’s vote, later telling The Hill: “Jim Jordan will be Speaker.”
Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said Wednesday it is his “expectation” that the GOP conference will meet Thursday, which could present Jordan with an opportunity to regroup ahead of a third ballot. It would be the latest in a string of closed-door meetings among House Republicans that have taken place over the Speaker showdown.
The House could hold another Speaker vote as early as noon.
The unrelenting determination is no surprise coming from Jordan, the fast-talking chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who is known to not back away from a fight. But as he bleeds GOP support and the House chugs through week three of being at a standstill — which is preventing the chamber from taking action on government funding and support for Israel amid its war against Hamas — some Republicans say it is time for Jordan to throw in the towel.
“I believe he’s done,” Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), who voted for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on the first two ballots, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday afternoon.
“He needs to withdraw from this,” he added. “He’s gonna lose more votes tomorrow, I know it, already have — I know he’s gonna cross over and change. He doesn’t have any pathway forward to 217.”
Jordan’s allies, meanwhile, say it is up to the Ohio Republican to decide how far he wants to take his bid.
“Of course there’s a path,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said, noting that Jordan’s 199 votes is close to the number of votes McCarthy had during his marathon Speaker’s race.
“There’s always a path; the question’s about the conversations and who you’re talking to,” he added. “So those conversations are underway right now, we’ll see what happens.”
McCarthy — whose Speaker election on the floor took four days and spanned 15 ballots — said Jordan should receive “the same timeframe I was able to get.”
But as time goes on, the battle is getting nastier.
Bacon, who came out against Jordan ahead of the first ballot, said his wife received anonymous text messages and calls leading up to the Speaker vote that encouraged her to tell the congressman to support Jordan. One message obtained by Politico read: “Your husband will not hold any political office ever again. What a disappoint and failure he is.”
And Wednesday, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) — who flipped her vote from Jordan on Tuesday to House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Kay Granger (R-Texas) on Wednesday — said she received death threats after leaving the Ohio Republican’s corner.
“[S]ince my vote in support of Chairwoman Granger, I have received credible death threats and a barrage of threatening calls. The proper authorities have been notified and my office is cooperating fully,” Miller-Meeks wrote in a statement.
“I did not stand for bullies before I voted for Chairwoman Granger and when I voted for Speaker designee Jordan, and I will not bend to bullies now,” she added.
Jordan condemned the behavior, writing on X that “No American should accost another for their beliefs” and calling it “abhorrent.”
The growing — and prolonged — Speaker conundrum, meanwhile, is further fueling calls among some Republicans for the House to take up a resolution that would expand McHenry’s authority as Speaker pro tem, allowing the House to get back to business. On Wednesday morning, before Jordan fell short on the second ballot, Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) signaled he would introduce a resolution to formally install McHenry as Speaker pro tempore.
Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) said Jordan’s second failed vote “absolutely” further shows that it is time to expand McHenry’s powers, and Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.) called that course of action “the most logical solution at this point.”
The Speaker saga is thrusting the House GOP conference into a sea of complicated dynamics as pressure mounts amid a looming government shutdown deadline and a conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Democrats, however, are offering no sympathy to Jordan.
“I ache for him,” President Biden told reporters while chuckling when asked if he has a view on Jordan’s “current predicament” on Capitol Hill. “No. Zero. None.”
Emily Brooks and Aris Folley contributed.