The Speaker Fight
Tomorrow, Republicans will throw their bones, entrails, and sticks on the ground to see if they can divine a path forward in the House of Representatives.
Finally, Jim Jordan may come out on top. I have pushed for Jordan as Speaker for a long time. I think he’d be a great Speaker who could unite the conservatives and build bridges with the moderates. As a conservative, he built enough bridges to get Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
Jordan has three, and possibly four, problems he has to overcome to seal the deal tomorrow.
First, Kevin McCarty was a prolific fundraiser. Many swing seat guys are deeply worried about Jordan’s ability to fundraise. He needs to reassure them he can tap into conservative pools McCarthy could not while also being able to tap into Kevin McCarthy’s pools of donors by virtue of being Speaker.
Second, some of the House Republicans are worried that Jordan will be Trump’s man in the House and not the House’s man. That matters at an institutional level to some of them. They want to know Jordan will be the House's leader and not just someone steering Trump’s bidding through the House.
Third, in my time in the conservative movement, outside pressure campaigns have always tended to backfire. House Republicans honestly do not care about the conservative movement. They care about their districts. They like to see themselves as independent voices, even though they really are not. By defying an organized pressure campaign to back Jordan, many of them think they’ll actually help themselves. Conservative outside groups have to thread the needle carefully.
Fourth, some members of the House GOP are simply refusing to vote for Jordan because they think it will reward Matt Gaetz. These folks would rather side with Democrats than stand in solidarity with Republicans. There may be nothing Jordan can do to get their votes, but he could reduce their numbers to a meaningless opposition by dealing with the first two issues.
Finally, there is one other issue on the periphery.
This one matters more if Jordan becomes Speaker. Jordan was accused of knowing about sexual abuse on the wrestling team at Ohio State. Jordan served as an Assistant Coach. Several former wrestlers claimed the team’s doctor sexually abused them. Jordan was not implicated, except some of the wrestlers claimed Jordan knew and did nothing. An investigation was done by an outside law firm, Perkins Coie, which has tight ties to Democrats.
Jordan denied the allegations, and several other players stepped forward to defend Jordan.
This, again, really only matters if Jordan wins. The longest-serving House Speaker since the GOP took back Congress in 1994 was Denny Hastert, a convicted pedophile. Jordan is accused of turning a blind eye to Trump over January 6th and turning a blind eye to this sexual abuse scandal.
You and I can say it is all crap, but we both know how the Democrats and press will treat it all together. It could prove to be a distraction for some members of the House Republican Conference, who fear they’ll have to address it in the press all the time. I have no doubts the press and left will work to make that happen.
But the response is that Jim Jordan is a good man who had plenty of players stand up and defend him, and the voters of Ohio have assessed the allegations against him and rejected them.
We will see how this all goes in the next twenty-four hours.