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Jordan Loses Second Speaker Ballot by Wider Margin Than the First

Rep. Jim Jordan received 199 votes in the second ballot, 18 short of what he needed to become speaker.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan talks to reporters as he heads from his office in the Rayburn House Office Building to the U.S. Capitol on October 18, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

For the second time in as many days, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the Republican nominee for speaker of the House, failed to garner enough members of his own party to win the position.

In his first unsuccessful vote on Tuesday, 20 Republicans voted against Jordan for the speakership. After trying to court the dissidents for nearly a full day, in the second vote on Wednesday, Jordan actually saw the number of Republicans voting against him increase to 22 votes. Only one Republican lawmaker, Rep. Victoria Spartz of Indiana, switched their vote since yesterday from being against Jordan to now supporting him.

All 212 Democrats in the chamber voted against Jordan, supporting their conference leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) instead.

In total, Jordan received 199 votes in the second round of voting, well short of the 217 he needed to win the speakership. The House broke for a recess after the vote.

Jordan’s far right (and often conspiratorial) viewpoints, including his deep fealty to former President Donald Trump, didn’t do him any favors in gaining support from Republicans who represent swing districts. At the same time, many Republicans were turned off by the Jordan team’s methods of courting them, as lawmakers reportedly received threats rather than assurances and positive promises about his candidacy, being told they could be primaried out of their House seat if they didn’t back him. One lawmaker told reporters that the threats extended to his wife, who was told through multiple anonymous messages, “your husband better support Jim Jordan.”

Jordan tried to do damage control last night over the backlash to the pressure campaign his team had engaged in, contacting Republican lawmakers directly and sending a social media post calling for unity. “We must stop attacking each other and come together,” Jordan said on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

As evidenced by Wednesday’s vote, the efforts were for naught.

It has been 15 days since the House of Representatives last had a speaker of the House. Former Speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) was ousted in a motion to vacate vote earlier this month, when a small number of Republicans, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida), expressed disdain with him cooperating with Democrats on keeping the government funded in a short-term deal.

A number of Republicans, prior to the second vote taking place, suggested that a failed ballot this round could spell disaster for Jordan.

If Jordan has “more [than] 25 defections, it might be game over,” one GOP source said to Axios reporter Juliegrace Brufke.

While that number wasn’t reached on the second ballot, the likelihood of more defectors emerging in future ballots is much higher than those who oppose Jordan’s candidacy suddenly having a change of heart.

The failure to get over 200 votes from his own party’s conference is an embarrassing development for Jordan, as it’s the lowest margin in modern U.S. history for a majority party’s nominee to receive in a speaker of the House ballot, Washington Post congressional correspondent Paul Kane pointed out.

Behind the scenes, the second failed ballot likely means that negotiations are gearing up to allow Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-North Carolina), who is currently serving as speaker pro tempore, more power to pass some legislation. Jeffries has said he would support such a move if Republicans would allow it, but it’s unclear whether lawmakers in the House can legally do so.

For now, and unless such powers are conferred unto McHenry, business in the House is at a standstill.

Allies of Jordan, who has indicated he’s willing to go through multiple failed ballots in order to win, said that a third ballot would happen, with Jordan remaining as the GOP’s nominee. They did not say whether that would happen later on Wednesday or later this week.

“We’re going to keep going,” said Russell Dye, a spokesperson for the Ohio Republican.

It’s yet unclear what strategy Jordan has in mind to win over Republican holdouts.

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