Rep. Jim Jordan says he will run for US House speaker

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, said Tuesday he is running for speaker of the House, a day after Kevin McCarthy, R-California, was stunningly ousted from the position.

Jordan, an Ohio representative since 2007 and one of former President Trump’s most vocal defenders in Congress, is getting early support from Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton and some of the Republican hardliners who have criticized other GOP House speakers.

But his candidacy will likely run right into Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., who is also considering a speakership bid and has worked to court conservatives.

Jordan said during a Capitol Hill briefing he had “a lot of people reaching out ... asking me to do it” and that “the text messages and phone calls I’ve got seem strong.”

“I think I can unite the conservative base, and the party and the conference. That’s why I’m running,” Jordan told reporters Wednesday morning.

Turner told the Dayton Daily News he convened a meeting Ohio Republican members of Congress.

“We had an open and frank conversation with Jim Jordan, and I am proud to support Jim Jordan due to his leadership, professionalism and ability to bring this conference together,” Turner said.

Turner added that former Speaker McCarthy’s removal Tuesday afternoon saddened him.

“He has done an excellent job in leading the House and working to address the important needs of our country,” Turner said of McCarthy, adding that the removal episode of recent days “has rendered the House of Representatives to a chaotic and standstill state.

“The people who removed him did so because he refused to shut down the government,” Turner said of the former speaker. “Of course, I was incredibly opposed to shutting down the government, so I’m appreciative of Kevin’s leadership and saddened that a small group of individuals has thrown Congress into chaos.”

In Congress, Turner is chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and a member of the Oversight and Accountability Committee. Turner is the first Dayton-area representative to lead a national security committee.

In those roles, he has advocated for the Air Force and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio’s largest employer in one location.

“My ability to serve my community will not be affected,” Turner said Wednesday.

Jordan — as well as area U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy — voted against the temporary spending measure to keep the government funded that finally motivated McCarthy’s far-right opponents to orchestrate his ouster. Turner voted for the spending measure.

One moderate Republican, speaking on the condition of anonymity with Axios, said Jordan, a co-founder of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, is a non-starter for them and roughly 15 to 20 other centrists.

Jordan is a Graham High School and University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate. He received his master’s degree at The Ohio State University.

The House will try to elect a speaker as soon as next week. The timing is nowhere near certain as Republicans line up for their chance at the gavel amid the bitter divisions that sparked the chaos.

Many doubt that anyone can get the 218 votes needed to become speaker. Voting for McCarthy in January took 15 excruciating rounds even though he was the consensus choice of the GOP conference.

House Republicans plan to meet next Tuesday evening at the Capitol for a first round of internal party voting.

“I think the circus stuff needs to happen behind closed doors,” said Rep. Garret Graves, R-La.

It is shaping up to be wide open battle just as Congress faces a new deadline to fund the government by mid-November. Work on that legislation in the House is on hold due to the vacancy in the speaker’s office, creating the potential for extended paralysis.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called it a “dangerous situation.”

At the White House, President Joe Biden said the American people still expected the government to get its work done in a timely fashion. McCarthy was ousted because he worked with Democrats to keep the government open and avoid a shutdown, and the Democratic president said: “We need to stop seeing each other as enemies.”

Electing a new speaker risks inflaming the divisions that have plagued House Republicans all year, particularly if lawmakers make new demands before pledging support.

Scalise has long been viewed as a potential speaker-in-waiting and is revered as a survivor after he was shot in the hip at a congressional baseball team practice in 2017. But Scalise is also being treated for a form of blood cancer, forcing him away from the Capitol at times.

In a letter to colleagues asking for their support, Scalise acknowledged the challenges ahead for him and Republicans, but said he has overcome adversity before.

“This next chapter won’t be easy, but I know what it takes to fight and I am prepared for the battles that lie ahead,” he wrote.

Jordan made his own pitch by emphasizing his oversight work and aspirations. He echoed Scalise’s call for unity during “divided times.”

“The problems we face are challenging, but they are not insurmountable,” he said.

If named House speaker, Jordan would be the fourth from Ohio.

The Associated Press and Reporter Tom Gnau contributed to this story.

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