Can Jim Jordan Succeed Where McCarthy and Scalise Failed?

Can Jim Jordan succeed where McCarthy and Scalise failed?


Jim Jordan is now the third Republican to be nominated for Speaker in the 118th Congress after Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted and Majority Leader Steve Scalise’s bid for the gavel collapsed after one day. Can Jordan succeed where they failed?

  • Jordan, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was nominated in a 124-81 vote by the House Republican Conference on Friday, one day after he was defeated by Scalise by a 113-99 margin.
  • Scalise was forced to abandon his speakership bid despite winning the support of a majority of the conference because a number of Jordan-aligned Republicans refused to vote for him on the floor.
  • Jordan now faces a similar quandary. He only picked up 9 votes and still lost 81 votes to Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), a little-known congressman who publicly said he did not want to be speaker but entered the race to give Republicans a choice.
  • The conference held a “validation” vote to see how many Republicans planned to vote for Jordan on the floor. Jordan won that vote 152-55, indicating he is still a long way to go from securing the votes he needs to be elected speaker.
  • The speaker must be elected by a majority of the House, meaning any nominee must win 217 votes and can only afford to lose 4 Republican votes. With 55 members indicating they’re unwilling to vote for Jordan on the floor, his bid for speaker may be just as doomed as Scalise’s.
  • Many leading House Republicans urged members to get behind Jordan, and he could yet persuade more holdouts to come on board.
  • However, Jordan’s weak fundraising, history of inflammatory rhetoric and uncompromising reputation could make him a liability for the 18 Biden-district Republicans and other moderates and members who represent swing seats.
  • Persuading them to vote against their own interests – and potentially end their careers – to support a candidate whose supporters have been willing to torpedo more moderate-friendly nominees and reject the will of the majority of the conference will be a tall order for Jordan.
  • Centrist Democrats led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) have proposed empowering acting Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-NC) in the interim, but it’s unclear how much support this plan has among House Republicans or McHenry himself.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • “Still, there were deep reservations about Mr. Jordan inside the Republican conference. Should he succeed in drawing a majority on the House floor, he would be second in line to the presidency, capping a remarkable rise for a rabble-rousing Republican popular with the party’s far-right base. He is a co-leader of the impeachment inquiry against President Biden and played a key role in helping plan Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. His combative style and distaste for compromise has tormented past G.O.P. speakers. (Luke Broadwater for the New York Times)
  • “Several Scalise supporters remain hesitant about voting for Jordan, particularly after Jordan did not give an immediate and full-throated endorsement of Scalise. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) said Friday that he still had concerns about Jordan following his treatment of Scalise and didn’t want to ‘reward bad behavior.’” (Amy B Wang, Marianna Sotomayor, Jacqueline Alemany, and Leigh Ann Caldwell for the Washington Post)
  • “The House remains effectively frozen as long as there is no speaker, a dire situation that comes as Congress faces a fast-approaching government funding deadline in mid-November and as crisis unfolds abroad in Ukraine and with Israel’s war against Hamas. Asked by CNN’s Manu Raju how the entire episode reflects on the GOP, McCarthy said on Friday, ‘it’s terrible.’” (Clare Foran and Jeremy Herb for CNN)



  • “Many House Republicans still stunned by McCarthy’s removal fear that GOP infighting will last well beyond the choosing of a new speaker. “Right now, with the margins we have and with the personalities we have, the Republican House is not governable in any traditional sense,” [South Dakota Rep. Dusty] Johnson says. He nonetheless remains cautiously optimistic and believes that somehow, someday, this GOP fever will break, even though he has “no earthly idea” what it will take to get there.” (Audrey Fahlberg for National Review)
  • “Republicans are expected to convene Monday or Tuesday for a full conference meeting. A full floor vote on Jordan’s candidacy would not happen until after the conference meets. Jordan’s candidacy comes after he lost the initial speaker’s race to Scalise, whose Thursday withdrawal shocked the conference and sent the GOP scrambling. Still, Jordan’s showing in Friday’s conference votes were underwhelming for the frontrunner, which could spell more trouble on the horizon.” (Houston Keene for Fox News)
  • “As a fractious week at the Capitol came to a close with the position of speaker of the House still vacant, a sense of fatalism descended on the Republican majority after the ejection of the post’s previous occupant, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, without a plan or successor in place to follow him. One congressman, Mark Alford, a freshman from Missouri, announced he was turning to prayer. Another, Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, suggested trial by combat. Andy Ogles of Tennessee sent his colleagues a letter on formal stationery proposing they all be locked in a room until they came to consensus. Mike Collins, elected last year to represent the Atlanta exurbs, suggested a lottery—with the loser forced to serve as speaker.” (Molly Ball for the Wall Street Journal)

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© Dominic Moore, 2023