In a move that stunned many political observers House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise, after winning the Republican Conference endorsement for Speaker, on Friday dropped out of the race.
Last Thursday Scalise addressed the House Republican conference during a closed-door session. He left the meeting telling reporters that he would be talking with holdouts who did not vote for him in his 113 to 99 victory over Rep. Jim Jordan to work to flip their votes.
"We're honing in on, I think, the real concerns and issues that members have. Members want to get the House working again, but they want to get the institution working again. Congress is broken. And we need to fix it," Scalise told ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott. "We need to continue to make the kind of reforms that open this process up again, that address the problems that are facing hardworking families."
ABC reported that despite Mr. Scalise’s optimism, at least 13 Republicans didn't plan to back him, meaning his campaign for Speaker was doomed unless he could convince at least ten of them to come around.
On Friday, it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen and Scalise dropped his bid for the gavel.
Conservatives quickly coalesced behind Jim Jordan, who entered Congress in 2007 as a conservative boat rocker and has long been a thorn in the sides of GOP leadership. He was a co-founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and served as the group's first chair.
But can Jordan resolve the same problem Steve Scalise had and convince sceptics who formerly backed Scalise and McCarthy?
Electing a founder of the Freedom Caucus as Speaker would be a bitter pill for the two dozen or so “hard core moderates” in the House Republican Conference and some of them already signaled they are NO votes on Jordan.
One of those hard-core moderates, Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., made a surprise entrance into the speaker’s race just hours before the closed-door meeting to nominate the next candidate after Scalise dropped out as an anti-Jordan alternative.
Although he lost, Scott made a surprisingly strong showing in the vote, garnering 81 votes to Jordan’s 124.
And now, Jordan has the same problem Steve Scalise had – how to convince a handful of opponents to come around and vote for him.
Jordan, who was endorsed for the position by former President Donald Trump, has his hands full getting the House GOP moderates fully behind him, with a number of House Republicans saying that they will not back the MAGA congressman.
Newsweek reported, Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri replied "HELL NO" in a text message when asked by NBC News if she will now be supporting Jordan for House Speaker.
Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia has also confirmed that he would not support Jordan.
California Rep. Mike Garcia is one of those who said they would support Jordan for House speaker, but admitted the Ohio congressman has a "math problem" with regards to getting enough votes.
"The problem is I think there's enough people who see what's happened in the last 48 hours to not support him that we're going to have the same problem with Jordan that we had with Scalise," Garcia said.
And Florida congressman Carlos Gimenez threw another wrinkle into the battle for the gavel when said he has not changed his mind about wanting McCarthy to return as House speaker. "It didn't change my mind about how I'm going to vote," Gimenez told reporters when about not switching his allegiance to Scalise or Jordan. "But it was good and constructive. I think there's differences of opinion."
When asked by NBC if there are five "Never Jordan" votes—the number of votes any candidate cannot afford to lose on the Republican side if all Democrats back House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries as expected—New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis replied: "There's probably five 'Never Everybodys'—that's the problem."
Even worse than the idea of bringing McCarthy back was the idea floated by Rep. María Elvira Salazar and members of the moderate Republican Governance Group that the GOP should "walk and chew gum" by allowing Speaker Pro Temp Patrick McHenry to "reopen business" while they seek a permanent solution.
McHenry was the architect of the budget and spending sellouts that were the proximate cause of Kevin McCarthy’s downfall and the idea of elevating him to Speaker is anathema to conservatives.
We like Jim Jordan and hope he can get elected, but if he can’t the goal must remain getting a conservative (a real conservative) to 217 votes and the Speaker’s gavel. If Jordan can’t make it, we suggest Florida Rep. Byron Donalds as the ultimate compromise candidate. Rep Donalds is a real conservative who has stood for conservative principles in a positive way, so he hasn’t made a lot of Washington enemies, and his coalition building ability within the GOP Conference is proven.
vacate the chair
Donald Trump endorses Jim Jordan