House Republicans Nominate Jim Jordan for Speaker in Chaotic Race

Spoiler alert: It's a "circus," in the words of one House Republican, and there's still no clear favorite to take the gavel and resume governing.

House Republicans Nominate Jim Jordan for Speaker in Chaotic Race
Photo:Anna Moneymaker (Getty Images)

UPDATE 10/13: On Friday afternoon House Republicans nominated Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) to be the next House Speaker by a vote of 124 to 81. Jordan’s path to the Speakership remains an uphill battle as a handful of more “moderate” Republicans have said they oppose him, the New York Times reports.

As hard as it is to believe, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was removed as House Speaker just last week. And as of the end of this week, House Republicans are no closer, really, to picking someone new to return us to the business of government. We remain barreling toward a shutdown when the stopgap budget bill expires on Nov. 17, and the House can get no closer to working out a new one without a Speaker. Our choices, as it stands on Friday afternoon, appear to be Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)—a far-right Congressman seeking the Speakership with Trump’s endorsement, who’s been embattled for years by allegations that he helped cover up sexual assault perpetrated against members of the Ohio State wrestling team—and Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), who just announced his candidacy. Scott is what the New York Times describes as “a lesser-known mainstream conservative,” who may be “lesser-known” as a result of being “mainstream.”

On Thursday, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), withdrew his candidacy, even after earlier this week the Congressman who once self-stylized as “David Duke without the baggage” appeared to be a frontrunner.

Scalise on Wednesday won a closed-door caucus vote with a two-thirds majority. But by Thursday it became clear to the Louisiana Congressman that he wouldn’t receive a majority of the vote on the floor. And, apparently unwilling to go through the humiliation of 15 rounds of voting just to still lose at the end, he backed down, with about two dozen House Republicans insisting they would not vote for him. Among those were Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who invoked concerns with Scalise’s cancer diagnosis before launching into a tirade about President Biden having dementia (false) and health concerns about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“There were people that told me they were fine with me three days ago who were moving the goalposts,” Scalise told reporters on Thursday night. “There were games being played, and I said, I’m not gonna be a part of it.”

That seemingly leaves us with Jordan and, as of Friday, Scott. Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), who insisted to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday that she couldn’t support Scalise because of his David Duke comment, inexplicably backed Jordan and claimed some House Democrats would too. Tapper, in response, seemed unable to comprehend that she meant—as he put it—“Jim Jordan… from Ohio?”

Jordan is the one, err, serious nominee for House Speaker left standing. Except… Jordan has as of Friday been unable to win the caucus vote and he himself voted for Scalise within internal caucus votes, according to Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX). “You want to talk about confusing the American people?” Nehls told CNN on Thursday. “They think this whole place is a circus up here and all of a sudden Jim Jordan is nominating Steve Scalise and we’re voting for Jim Jordan. That’s just utter chaos.”

Additional internal, closed-door votes and meetings will unfold Friday, and on Thursday night, speaking to ABC News, Jordan seemed confident about his chances. “I think we’ll get there,” he said, with the outlet reporting that he was smiling as he spoke.

Scott said to reporters on Friday that his decision to join the race was last-minute: “When I woke up this morning, I had no intention of doing this,” he said. “But I believe if we as Republicans are going to make the majority, we have to do the right things the right way. And we’re not doing that right now.”

McCarthy himself doesn’t sound so sure about what happens next: He told ABC on Thursday night, “It’s 4% of the conference … it’s 4% of the conference and all the Democrats that want this chaos,” seemingly referring to the House Republicans led by Rep. Gaetz (R-Fla.) who coalesced to oust him.

Through all of this, we have Mace reportedly posturing to be Trump’s running mate. We have Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) showing up to his job at the U.S. Capitol in an Israeli Defense Force uniform. We have Greene and Gaetz insisting that these reportedly messy closed-door meetings should be taking place on the House floor for the world to see. “Let’s do the messy work of governing and leadership selection in front of the people,” Gaetz wrote in a Thursday tweet quoting Greene’s. “Just like I voted against McCarthy time after time in public making my argument, others should have to reveal their thinking and be appropriately judged by their voters.” (Gaetz and Greene have yet to reveal who they support for Speaker.)

House Republicans have never been a serious people. In recent years they’ve behaved more like a group of middle-aged right-wing theater kids and 4Chan trolls. But this utter circus brings us to new, previously unseen levels of nonsense—it’s impressive, really.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin