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What did Jim Jordan lose, or gain, from his failed bid for House speaker?

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, stands with hands on hips on the U.S. House floor.
Alex Brandon
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, listens after he was not successful in the first ballot, as Republicans try to elect him to be the new House speaker, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023.

The U.S. House of Representatives is still leaderless, and its Republican majority adrift following a third failed attempt to elect Ohio hardliner Jim Jordan as speaker.

Jordan, a Republican from Champaign County, was forced out of the race by his colleagues in a secret vote Friday. What did Jordan win and what did he lose in his brass knuckled fight for votes? Ideastream Public Media’s Amy Eddings spoke with Ken Rudin, former NPR political editor and host of the "Political Junkie" podcast.

Jim Jordan had the endorsement of the Republican Party's leader and likely presidential nominee Donald Trump. Why didn't he win?

Well, he didn't win because he alienated a lot of his fellow colleagues in the Republican side along the way.

A lot of people were saying, “Well, he was an election denier,” but most of the Republican conference in the House denied the results of the 2020 election. It wasn't that. It was that he basically didn't know how to play well with others. There were a lot of mean things said. There were a lot of threats, including death threats made against the members — 25 or so Republicans who opposed Jordan — and there were death threats made against them and their families that if you don't vote for Jim Jordan, something bad is going to happen.

And so, after Jordan lost the third ballot on Friday, they said enough is enough and then [in] a secret ballot, he was overwhelmingly rejected as their party's nominee.

What did Jordan gain and what did he lose in this quest?

It's hard to see any benefit he got, any gain he got. Of course, he's now more nationally known that he had been. He will still be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He'll have the headlines. He'll probably still have Fox News. He still may have former President Trump's ear, although, as Trump has said about many people, including [the late U.S Senator of Arizona] John McCain, you know, "He's a loser. He had his chance, and he lost." We'll see what happens. Stranger things have happened in this very bizarre, strange year.

Republican Congress members in districts won by Biden were in a really tough spot. One highly vulnerable representative, Mike Lawler of New York, has been trying to insulate himself, criticizing the hard right for being “stuck on stupid.” But Ohio's 10 Republican Congress members are in districts that solidly went for Trump. What blowback, if any, do they face in their home districts from this chaos in the chamber?

In Ohio, I see none. There's very, very little movement, very, very few competitive districts in Ohio. It seems like the Republicans in Ohio, you know, Warren Davidson (8th District) and others seem to be very set in their reelection.

But you mentioned Mike Lawler of New York. You know, it's interesting. Not only is he blaming the crazies, but he's also blaming the Democrats. He says, “Well, the Democrats, you know, they all voted against (former U.S. House Speaker) Kevin McCarthy.” Well, the Democrats’ role is not to bail out Republicans, just like the Republicans are not going to vote for (U.S. House Minority Leader) Hakeem Jeffries. To blame the Democrats, as Mike Lawler and some other moderate Republicans have done, is just nonsense.

Do you think this fight jeopardizes the Republican Party's slim hold on the House come November 2024?

The feeling is, Democrats could make the case that (Republicans) don't deserve to run the country because, and especially, if there's another drawn-out fight over the government shutdown in November. It just looks bad for the party in power. But having said that, remember, the party has shut down the government before and still won a majority in Congress. So, all I can say is November of 2024 is a long time away.

Editor’s note: In 2013, during Democratic President Barack Obama’s second term, the federal government was shut down for 16 days after House Republicans, led by conservatives seeking to defund Obamacare, failed to reach a spending agreement with Senate Democrats. The GOP maintained their control of the House and won control of the Senate in 2014.

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