Jor­dan vies to re­place Ryan as House Speaker

To chal­lenge leader Mc­Carthy

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY GABRIELLA MUÑOZ AND DAVID SHERFINSKI

Rep. Jim Jor­dan an­nounced Thurs­day that he will try next year to be­come leader of the House Repub­li­can cau­cus, ac­cel­er­at­ing what’s likely to be a deeply di­vi­sive fight over the di­rec­tion of the GOP.

The Ohio Repub­li­can is chal­leng­ing Rep. Kevin Mc­Carthy of Cal­i­for­nia, the cur­rent ma­jor­ity leader and front-run­ner to suc­ceed out­go­ing Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who is re­tir­ing at the end of this year.

Mr. Jor­dan said he will seek the post if Repub­li­cans man­age to keep their ma­jor­ity in this year’s elec­tions, vow­ing to be a firmer sup­porter of Pres­i­dent Trump’s agenda.

“Pres­i­dent Trump has taken bold ac­tion on be­half of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Congress has not held up its end of the deal, but we can change that. It’s time to do what we said,” he wrote in a let­ter to col­leagues.

Long a con­ser­va­tive light­ning rod, Mr. Jor­dan quickly drew sup­port from out­side right-wing groups, while con­ser­va­tive law­mak­ers in­side the Capi­tol were di­vided.

Some of his clos­est al­lies said they’ll back him, but other con­ser­va­tive law­mak­ers said they want to fo­cus on mak­ing sure the GOP still has a ma­jor­ity — and thus the speak­er­ship — next year.

Mr. Jor­dan has built a rep­u­ta­tion as a right-wing brawler, will­ing to bat­tle Democrats and GOP lead­ers alike.

He helped or­ches­trate the 17-day gov­ern­ment shut­down over Oba­macare fund­ing in 2013, though he later ad­mit­ted that was per­haps too ag­gres­sive a stance. And he’s pushed for stiffer ac­tion on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, deeper spend­ing cuts and broader civil lib­er­ties pro­tec­tions from gov­ern­ment snoop­ing than party lead­ers have em­braced.

He also at­tempted to im­peach then-IRS Com­mis­sioner John Kosk­i­nen in 2016.

Mr. Jor­dan is a former chair­man of the con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can Study Com­mit­tee and found­ing mem­ber of the House Free­dom Cau­cus, and has taken in re­cent months to chid­ing GOP lead­ers for fail­ing to live up to the prom­ises they and Mr. Trump made to vot­ers.

“Jim Jor­dan is a coura­geous con­ser­va­tive who has al­ways kept his prom­ises,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, Ari­zona Repub­li­can. “I be­lieve that Jim Jor­dan would re­turn to reg­u­lar or­der and lead the House to ex­e­cute our con­ser­va­tive ob­jec­tives.”

Rep. Mark Mead­ows of North Carolina, chair­man of the Free­dom Cau­cus, said he would “fully” sup­port Mr. Jor­dan for speaker.

“I ap­plaud all of those who are will­ing to put them­selves out there. Cer­tainly, Jim’s one of my bet­ter friends in Congress and I sup­port his ef­forts and his lead­er­ship to do that,” Mr. Mead­ows said.

Mr. Mead­ows also waved aside talk that Mr. Jor­dan launched the long-shot bid to be a “spoiler” for an­other can­di­date or to build him­self up as a GOP king­maker.

“The fact is that he was a two-time na­tional cham­pion,” Mr. Mead­ows said of Mr. Jor­dan, a former col­lege wrestler. “I never knew him to get on the mat and try to lose, and I don’t ex­pect this to be any dif­fer­ent. If he’s go­ing to get in, he’s go­ing to be in it to win.”

Groups from the free-mar­ket Club for Growth to the Tea Party Pa­tri­ots Ci­ti­zens Fund said they would rally to Mr. Jor­dan’s side as well.

Free­domWorks, an­other group, said it will spend at least $500,000 to as­sist Mr. Jor­dan’s speak­er­ship bid.

How­ever, elec­tions an­a­lysts are putting in­creas­ingly long odds on the GOP’s hopes of re­tain­ing the ma­jor­ity. Should Democrats win, they’ll pick the speaker and the GOP con­test would be for mi­nor­ity leader.

Mr. Jor­dan’s let­ter to col­leagues didn’t say what he would do in that case.

The out­go­ing speaker, Mr. Ryan, said he didn’t talk to Mr. Jor­dan be­fore his an­nounce­ment, but said he’s still back­ing Mr. Mc­Carthy.

Asked Thurs­day about Mr. Jor­dan’s bid, Mr. Mc­Carthy told NBC: “I’m spend­ing the time keep­ing the ma­jor­ity.”

Rep. Mark Walker, who chairs the Repub­li­can Study Com­mit­tee, said the GOP needs to keep the ma­jor­ity first if they have de­signs on choos­ing the next speaker.

“That’s yet to be de­ter­mined,” he said. “First and fore­most, we got to keep the ma­jor­ity.”

Mr. Jor­dan built a na­tional pro­file us­ing his seats on the House Ju­di­ciary and Over­sight com­mit­tees to fire tough ques­tions first at Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, and more re­cently at Trump Jus­tice Depart­ment and FBI of­fi­cials.

This week he joined with Mr. Mead­ows to in­tro­duce ar­ti­cles of impeachmen­t against Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein, ar­gu­ing he’s the point man of a Jus­tice Depart­ment ef­fort to hide doc­u­ments from Congress.

While he won cheers from con­ser­va­tives from those ef­forts, some moder­ate GOP mem­bers have started to lose pa­tience with the Free­dom Cau­cus and say those sorts of tac­tics are coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

Rep. Elise Ste­fanik, a New York Repub­li­can who is back­ing Mr. Mc­Carthy, said that “un­der no cir­cum­stances” will she sup­port Mr. Jor­dan for speaker.

“I would urge him in­stead to sup­port his col­leagues this Novem­ber in­stead of fo­cus­ing on his own per­sonal lead­er­ship as­pi­ra­tions,” Ms. Ste­fanik tweeted.

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