As reporters chased Jim Jordan down a hallway shortly before yesterday’s vote, he declared himself “confident” in his ability to win the office of president.
He would not say whether he had enough support or how many rounds of voting he was willing to endure.
His confidence was not enough. With 20 Republicans voting for others – even though Jordan’s opponents couldn’t find a protest candidate to run – he lost the first round.
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In fact, it was quite an achievement for the chairman of the Judiciary Committee to lose by that margin—he could only afford three defectors—since he received only 124 votes in the Republican Party’s secret ballot, a far cry from of the magic number of 217. few converts had vowed never to support Jordan, which highlighted his talent for convincing members.
His strongest argument at the moment may well be that with the speakership vacant for nearly two weeks since Kevin McCarthy’s ouster, the House remains paralyzed, unable to vote even on issues as urgent as aid. military to Israel.
Still, the fact that Jordan is getting this close to the presidency says a lot about the direction of the Republican Party. He’s a fiery lawmaker who can dominate hearings, extremely conservative, and leading the impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Considered part of the GOP fringe a few years ago, it is now closer to the center of gravity.
Jordan, who is supported by Donald Trump, very actively tried to block Biden’s Electoral College certification, before and in the hours following the Capitol riot. An opponent of Jordan, Ken Buck, said he could not support a man who does not recognize Biden’s election as legitimate.
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We must now intensify the bargaining. The former wrestling coach would have to reject 17 of the 20 negative votes cast against him, which seems like a tall order. McCarthy, who was ousted in less than nine months, lost only eight Republicans.
Keep in mind that some moderate GOP Republicans, particularly in districts Biden won, don’t want Jordan to become the face of the party.
Let’s face it, it’s a crazy system. Whoever gets the most votes in the closed-door caucus is expected to garner all party votes in a bid for unity. But then, Majority Leader Steve Scalise would have been the spokesperson after beating Jordan. Instead, he withdrew from the race. But the concession that allowed any member to fire McCarthy is just as crazy.
From a practical standpoint, what would happen if Jordan became president? He was part of the far-right faction that didn’t want to compromise with Democrats on fighting the debt ceiling or threatening a government shutdown — and it was by avoiding both that McCarthy lost his job.
But as a new leader, Jordan would likely have to agree to an interim funding measure. This is the difference between leading and protesting: you have an obligation to the institution. Even though many MPs believe the rebels have no interest in governing.
Negotiations undoubtedly followed the first round, but also difficult discussions. Jordan’s allies told wavering members that if they did not jump on the bandwagon, they would face a major challenge from the right, which is every Republican’s nightmare. Rep. Byron Donalds told Fox the pressure tactics could have backfired.
One of the arguments Jordan would make to moderates is that as a certified right-winger, he can give them cover to vote on certain issues without them being denounced by conservative media. Whether this would work in the real world remains an open question.
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Jordan had scheduled a runoff late yesterday, but postponed it until today, a clear sign he doesn’t have the votes.
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Meanwhile, time is running out and no one seems able to win this thankless job.