Jim Jordan Pushing for Support Ahead of Tuesday Floor Vote

Rep. Jim Jordan in the Rayburn House Office Building on October 16, 2023, in Washington. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Happy Monday! It’s a beautiful day to be a House Republican, heading back to Washington for what promises to be another pleasant evening of negotiations around who should succeed Kevin McCarthy as House speaker.

Up to Speed

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign may be in real financial trouble, with only $1.2 million in cash on hand and $620,000 in debt going into the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, NBC News first reported Saturday. Former President Donald Trump has $37.5 million in the bank, with most of that available to spend during the Republican primary, while former governor and ambassador Nikki Haley, who raised more than $8 million this quarter, is sitting on a war chest of $11.5 million. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has $13.3 million on hand, although only about $5 million of that can be spent in the primary. Even Chris Christie is in better financial shape than Pence: The former New Jersey governor raised $3.7 million in the third quarter and has $3.9 million in the bank.
  • Sen. Tim Scott still has plenty of money to spend, with $13.3 million in cash on hand, but his numbers are cause for concern for a different reason. After coming into the third quarter with more than $21 million—a result of years of fundraising in the Senate—the South Carolina Republican raised only $4.6 million during that period while blowing through $12.3 million in spending. 
  • President Joe Biden, the Democratic National Committee, and related entities dedicated to reelecting him raised more than $71 million in the third quarter and entered this month with $91 million in cash on hand. The Biden team boasts that 240,000 of the grassroots donors who contributed to the campaign from July 1 through September 30 were new and did not donate in 2020.
  • Biden has canceled a trip to Pueblo, Colorado, where he planned to discuss energy issues. He will instead remain in Washington to attend to national security matters, presumably related to the war in Israel, a White House official said. The move was announced Monday morning just ahead of Biden’s scheduled departure. 
  • After strongly backing Israel in several previous public statements, Biden sounded a note of restraint in a “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday as Israel prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza in its war against the terror group Hamas. “What happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas and the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people,” Biden said, saying that it would be a “big mistake” for Israel to occupy Gaza and that “there needs to be a path to a Palestinian state.”
  • Asked about growing demands on the left for Israel to de-escalate the conflict with Hamas, White House spokesman John Kirby told The Dispatch in an interview published Sunday that “Israel and the United States are always stronger together when we stand on our principles, when we reflect back on our shared values, and some of those shared values are respect for innocent human life and a respect for the law of war and the law of armed conflicts.”
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced last week that his government would charter flights to Israel to help Floridians stranded by the war between Israel and Hamas get home. The first such flights landed in Tampa and Orlando Sunday night, carrying 277 people between them. DeSantis also authorized Florida’s Division of Emergency Management to deliver aid supplies to Israel during the conflict.
  • The judge in Donald Trump’s felony election-fraud case issued a narrow gag order today preventing the former president from “making statements targeting prosecutors, possible witnesses and the judge’s staff.” Special Counsel Jack Smith has argued Trump has used public statements to smear prosecutors, intimidate potential witnesses, and stoke threats of violence ahead of his trial. 

Jim Jordan’s Turn in the Vote-Hustling Barrel

As an original leader of the sharp-elbowed House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Jim Jordan knows plenty about how to smash a governing coalition. Now, the Ohio Republican has to try and build one.

On Friday, Jordan had the dubious honor of becoming the third Republican this year nominated by his party for speaker of the House. The vote came just days after the conference passed over Jordan for Majority Leader Steve Scalise—who subsequently bowed out after it became clear some Jordan supporters wouldn’t come aboard his ship. (Recall that, barring any Democratic support, the next Republican speaker will need to secure 217 of 221 Republican votes on the House floor to win the gavel.)

For Jordan, getting the whole conference on his side is a herculean task. His 124-81 victory Friday was far from a show of strength, coming as it did against Rep. Austin Scott—a relative backbencher from Georgia and last-minute entry into the contest. In a second, secret ballot, 55 Republicans said they would not support Jordan in the House-wide vote—enough to sink his speakership bid 10 times over should that number hold on the floor.

For some members, handing the gavel to Jordan days after he lost the conference vote to Scalise—just because some of his supporters awarded themselves a personal veto on the winner—would be letting the bad actors win.

“When you reward bad behavior you get more of it,” Rep. Don Bacon told reporters Friday. “So I struggle with that.”

Ironically, some lawmakers pointed to Jordan supporters’ unwillingness to get behind Scalise as evidence of Jordan’s likely weakness as speaker. After all, Jordan had pitched himself to the conference as someone whose personal relationships with the hardliners would be invaluable in keeping everyone rowing in the same direction.

“If you can’t get your closest friends, your closest supporters on an election issue to follow you,” Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart said Friday, “it begs the question of can you do anything and can you get anybody to follow you on really difficult issues.”

Unlike Scalise, Jordan seems unlikely to go down without a fight. He is forging toward a likely floor vote Tuesday with a stick-and-carrot approach to winning over the likely holdouts. It’s a personal charm offensive within the caucus coupled with heavy artillery support from a conservative media ecosystem, which is characterizing the vote as a climactic battle between the True Conservatives supporting Jordan and the Establishment Swamp.

“If you are a conservative, Tuesday is going to be one of the most important days in Congress in a very long time,” Greg Price of the State Freedom Caucus Network tweeted Sunday. “We are going to see firsthand which House Republicans vote for a conservative speaker. Or if their desire to give endless amounts of money to Ukraine, to placate DC special interests, or just their personal spite outweighs having a working GOP majority again.”

Fox News host Sean Hannity went farther, with his show producers going beyond merely covering the fight to essentially whip votes for Jordan. “Sources tell Hannity that Rep. [xxxx] is not supporting Rep. Jim Jordan for speaker,” read a form email sent to a number of Jordan holdouts over the weekend, first reported by Axios and confirmed by The Dispatch. “Can you please let me know if this is accurate? And, if true, Hannity would like to know why during a war breaking out between Israel and Hamas, with the war in Ukraine, with the wide open borders, with a budget that’s unfinished, why would Rep. [xxxx] be against Rep. Jim Jordan for speaker? Please let us know when Rep. [xxxx] plans on opening The People’s House so work can be done.”

Whether this sort of thing will cow House Republican moderates and institutionalists remains to be seen. Certainly thus far in the current Congress it has been the hardliners, not the pragmatists, who have taken advantage of the personal power to individual members afforded by the GOP’s razor-thin majority.

But as we’ve seen, that sort of power is mostly only useful to break coalitions. And it’s not hard to imagine moderates using it to break Jordan’s.

“Fifty-five votes against on the floor is an embarrassment,” one GOP strategist told The Dispatch, “and should be a warning shot at the [House Freedom Caucus] that after years of counting on the reasonable members to cave the House has reached a true inflection point.”

Still, don’t underestimate the effect a conservative pressure campaign can have even on institutionalists. Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama stepped out Thursday to suggest he was willing to work with Democrats to elect a coalition speaker if need be. After days of social media dogpiling, the House Armed Services Committee chairman announced Monday morning he was backing Jordan.

Burgum on Burgum

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum dropped by our Washington headquarters last week for a Dispatch Podcast conversation centered mostly around domestic and foreign policy. But given the Republican contender’s struggle to improve his standing in the GOP presidential primary after four months of campaigning, we also wanted to give him an opportunity to assess his progress—or lack thereof.

“The craziest thing I hear is that people say: ‘Oh, people should be dropping out ahead of when the voters start voting.’ Well, if someone’s going to drop out, maybe the people that should drop out are the ones that have never created a job and never made payroll,” Burgum said, referring to his career as a software mogul who, he emphasizes, has “created more jobs than any guy on that stage [and has] been making payroll since my mid twenties.” 

But poll numbers are stubborn things. The North Dakota governor is running eighth nationally, with 0.8 percent support. He’s not doing much better in Iowa or New Hampshire. Burgum is optimistic that all of this can change, insisting his standing will improve “as our name recognition goes up, as people understand who we are, what we stand for, what we’ve done.” 

And what about former President Donald Trump, the overwhelming frontrunner in the race for the Republican nomination? 

Burgum readily offers the point of view that the United States was in better shape before President Joe Biden took the helm at the White House. So, why should Republican voters nominate the North Dakotan, rather than Biden’s predecessor? “I think America is looking for a new face in 2024,” Burgum said. “There’s a hard ceiling on the former president’s support. Sixty percent of the people are looking for an alternative.”

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Notable and Quotable

“A lot of them did that. If I held that grudge, I wouldn’t have friends in the Republican Conference, because a lot of them did that.” 

—Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw to CNN’s Jake Tapper on why he’s supporting Rep. Jim Jordan for speaker despite Jordan’s voting not to certify the 2020 election, October 15, 2023

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