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Jim Jordan’s fight to become Speaker of the House cannot escape Donald Trump’s shadow

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) appeared Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” where host Jake Tapper pressed him to support Rep. Jim Jordan’s bid to be elected president of the Bedroom.

Some Republicans, Tapper reminded Crenshaw, are wary of Jordan (R-Ohio), given his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election to benefit President Donald Trump.

“He defied the congressional subpoena” from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, Tapper said, “and he was trying to get (Vice President Mike) Pence to overturn the votes electoral”.

“But a lot of them did,” Crenshaw responded with a laugh. “If I had that grudge, I wouldn’t have any friends at the Republican conference, because a lot of them did that.”

Tapper agreed it was an “excellent point.”

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And it’s. Even after the change that accompanied the 2022 elections — bringing in a galaxy of new Republican caucus members and pushing others out — more than half of the Republicans serving in the House voted to reject Arizona’s electors and/or Pennsylvania in the hours following the 2022 election. Riot at the Capitol. If these votes were a starting point for disqualification from the presidency (putting aside Jordan’s other efforts to overturn the election results), the options available for serving as president are dramatically different.

Jordan falls closest to the juncture of two characteristics the Republican conference could plausibly look for in a speaker: He has a strong tenure in the chamber and is among the conference’s most conservative members. If House Republicans were looking for a more conservative member who wouldn’t challenge the election results, they might choose Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), even though he didn’t serve as long. If they wanted someone who didn’t vote against the electors and who has been in the House longer than Jordan, they could choose Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-S.C.) – the man who holds the position of interim president. But he’s not as conservative.

The lawmaker closest to Jordan on these metrics who did not vote to reject the electors is Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). He issued a statement this month calling for the return to office of the ousted president, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

As Crenshaw’s comments to Tapper make clear, almost no one at the conference really cares that Jordan worked to help Trump retain power. They didn’t care what McCarthy did in January; Widespread opposition to his election at that time came primarily from people who themselves had helped prevent Joe Biden’s presidency. They also didn’t care that a majority of the caucus voted to nominate Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) for chairman before he withdrew from consideration. This in no way disqualifies them for leadership positions within the caucus.

How is it possible? The most important voice within the party remains the one who was the Republican nominee for president in 2016 and 2020 and who is exceptionally well positioned to be the nominee in 2024: Trump. His insistence that the election was stolen, rigged, or both continued uninterrupted for nearly three years. And all the lawmakers who sat in the House on January 6, 2021, and chose to side with his efforts to derail the finalization of Biden’s victory have learned to live with that decision — on the rare occasions when the fact to vote caused friction within the House. first place.

Trump himself weighed in on Jordan’s behalf as the Ohio lawmaker seeks the top job in the House. Others in Trump’s broader orbit (including Fox News host Sean Hannity, according to a report from Axios) mobilized in its favor. Suggestions last week that Scalise’s victory over Jordan in the first round in the caucus vote reflected a decline in Trump’s influence were premature.

In retrospect, it’s fascinating that Trump’s tenure as president allowed Republican lawmakers to remain shielded from his anti-democratic tendencies for so long. Trump was largely disinterested in politics and often content to follow House leaders in passing bills. There have been important items associated with the Trump presidency, like the 2017 tax cuts, which make up lines in the biographies of various House Republicans, but this vote is hardly a sign of loyalty to Trump . However, the January 6 votes, cast in service of the president and his enraged and misled support base, are entirely about Trump’s disregard for the transfer of power and the institutions of government.

In other words, most of the Republican conference has already demonstrated its willingness to remain in Trump’s shadow. Even if Jordan isn’t elected president — it’s certainly possible but perhaps less likely as the hours pass — Trump looms over the careers of these lawmakers. If Jordan do If one wins this position, the caucus’s adherence to Trumpian policies becomes even closer.

On CNN, Crenshaw attempted to portray Jordan as having become “part of the solution” by leading his Republican colleagues, “not part of the problem.” If this is true, it is partly because the Trumpian approach exhibited by Jordan – constant appearances on Fox News, disingenuous attacks on Biden – has been normalized. Sure, most of the caucus tried to overturn 2020, he said with a laugh, but what are you going to do?

Trump briefly flirted with the possibility of running for president himself. Perhaps he then realized that leadership in the House need not reflect his interests.


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