Jim Jordan gets more “no” votes on his second try than his first

Posted on Oct 18, 2023

All right, we have avoided posting anything for a couple of days about the Speaker’s race because candidly, X is better for those real-time updates than an old-fashioned blog. But now that it looks like Jim Jordan is toast, we think it’s worth summarizing what happened and why.

  1. Jordan went to the floor and 20 of his fellow Republicans voted against him for Speaker.
  2. Jordan then pursued a second vote and lost even more of his fellow Republicans.
  3. Now, Jordan is apparently considering pressing for a third vote, in which we expect he’d probably lose even more of his fellow Republicans.

A few things stand out here in terms of what is happening.

  1. Clearly, the House GOP conference is even more divided than most close observers thought (note: Reporters on the Hill seem to have been successfully spun by Jordan’s team ahead of the first vote into believing he’d lose about 10 of his fellow Republicans. LOL. OK.)
  2. Jordan’s team is completely disconnected with reality and frankly, his “strategists” should be fired. You don’t put your guy up for a second vote when he’s going to lose more badly than on the first. You don’t plan for a third vote in which he will likely lose even more support.
  3. That is, unless the goal was never to actually win, but instead create more friction within the caucus and facilitate conservative whining about “evil RINOs” preventing the inherently very electable and awesome Jim Jordan from assuming a job that, by rights, there are a lot of reasons he should not be placed in. If that was the goal, give the “strategists” a raise!
  4. The Jordan team, writ large, did a lot of bullying of fellow Republicans. First, we had the “Hannity team whipping votes for Jordan” crap, which any sane human being could see was more likely to piss off those on the fence than win them over (Rep. Mike Rogers aside). Members might in practice take a lot of cues from Fox News, but they like to feel they’re independent voices who represent their districts. Having it publicly speculated on that if they voted for Jordan, it was only because Fox News and Sean Hannity told them to is incredibly bad optics and it’s no surprise they shunned the opportunity to do what Hannity and his people were begging them to do. As an aside, nothing signals an inability to close the deal like having to get Sean Hannity to whip votes for you. If Members were convinced Jordan lacked the strength to win the vote in the first place, getting a call or an email or a text from Hannity’s booker or whoever asking why they weren’t supporting him vocally would be an absolute deal-closer for the “nope, not voting for that dude” proposition.
  5. In addition to the Hannity episode, we also had supporters of Jordan not merely texting bullying messages to Members, but also to their families. Erick Erickson, who was a Jordan supporter, says this and he’s right:

DID WE FORGET? In the fight against John Boehner, the original fight against Kevin McCarthy, and the fights against Mitch McConnell, every time conservatives mobilized an aggressive outside pressure campaign, it backfired. Why? Because members of Congress resent being bullied. Some, like Mike Rogers of Alabama, folded quickly. But most did not as conservatives didn’t just rally to Jordan, but bullied members to support him. This backlash has occurred every time. Some who voted for Jordan on the first ballot knew he did not have enough votes so they got cover while working behind the scenes to sabotage him.

WHY? Because as much as conservative outside groups tell the base to be nice, identify themselves as a constituent, and say “pretty please,” instead you get people who anonymously text the wives of members of Congress and threaten them. That happened to Congressman Don Bacon’s wife, among others.

Erick thinks Jordan is “toast” now and we agree with that conclusion. We think he would have been toast even without the bullying, but maybe that was worth an extra 5-10 votes.

Fundamentally, there were always going to be three big problems for Jordan here that were insurmountable.

  1. The Ohio State University scandal. First, and most obviously, after Dennis Hastert, few elected Members want more stories involving the words “Republican House Speaker,” “Wrestling” and “Sexual Abuse.” If Jordan had gotten the job, those headlines would have been unavoidable. However, even more interesting is what Fox News’ Chad Pergram says at the end of this piece, which you have to bet every single Member read: “There is still an outstanding lawsuit filed against Ohio State University by a number of former varsity athletes – including wrestlers – stemming from a sexual abuse scandal which goes back decades. They are listed as “John Does.” Ohio State previously argued that the statute of limitations had run out. But a federal court disagreed. The Supreme Court refused to reconsider the case earlier this year. That allowed the case to proceed. Jordan is not named in the suit as a defendant and has never been accused of alleged sexual abuse. But the plaintiffs intend to call all possible relevant Ohio State employees from the timeframe of the alleged abuse. That could help them determine potential culpability for allowing the abuse to continue after being made aware of it. The question is whether Jordan – as a possible Speaker of the House – could be called away for days if not longer for a deposition in the case…. If Jordan is deposed, it is unsure who would pay the legal bills on Jordan’s behalf. One source suggested it might be the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Jordan is not known for having a robust campaign war chest. He has not demonstrated the fundraising prowess of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.).” Oopsie… you know what Members like even less than bad headlines involving the words “Republican House Speaker,” “Wrestling” and “Sexual Abuse?” Bad fundraisers who pilfer party coffers to pay lawyers to staff them while they go MIA for days or weeks to be deposed in high-profile lawsuits.
  2. Jordan not only is a 2020 election denier; there are also constant rumblings that he was aiding and abetting Trump and his team with whatever the hell was going on, on January 6. Elevating someone like that is just a killer for anyone in swing district.
  3. Jordan and his team stupidly bought the story that hardliners always tell themselves to explain away GOP losses: “We nominated a moderate and conservatives therefore stayed home. If we want to win, we need to nominate rock-ribbed conservatives.” Nope. What always happens in these cases is moderates get all the diehard GOP votes because diehard GOP voters will vote for a dead fish purporting to be a pro-life tax cutter. It’s moderate Republicans who always take a hike, even when it’s a moderate Republican on the ballot (see: George H W Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and yes, Donald Trump in 2020– he only looked like a right-winger because he hates Mexicans as much as a bunch of right wingers!)

These are the reasons why we think even if Jordan tries to make peace with the people who were bullied and resented it and voted against him, he’s not ever going to close this deal. Jim Jordan wound up looking like exactly who those 22 people (probably plus a bunch more) always thought he was and that is just not much of a hot ticket.

The good news here is that conservatives actually get to keep their guy in charge of House Judiciary. That’s actually important! It’s one of the most important jobs for a rock-ribbed conservative to have, if you are a rock-ribbed conservative yourself!