Jim Jordan announces candidacy for House speaker, kicking off GOP race to replace McCarthy

Washington — Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio announced Wednesday that he will run for speaker of the House following the unprecedented ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

Jordan, who is the chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill that support for his bid for the gavel appears “strong” based on the messages he’s received from fellow House Republicans. He said the key priority for the next speaker is to unite the highly fractured GOP conference.

“I’ve had a lot of people reach out to us, asking me to do it, because they think think we can,” he said. “We’ll see if that happens, but I think I can.”

He officially requested support from his GOP colleagues in a letter Wednesday, in which he praised the work House Republicans have done so far this Congress but said more has to be done.

“We are at a critical crossroad in our nation’s history. Now is the time for our Republican conference to come together to keep our promises to Americans,” Jordan wrote. “The problems we face are challenging, but they are not insurmountable. We can focus on the changes that improve the country and unite us in offering real solutions. But no matter what we do, we must do it together as a conference. I respectfully ask for your support for Speaker of the House of Representatives.”

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio speaks to members of the media at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4, 2023.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio speaks to members of the media at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4, 2023. 

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Jordan touted his legislative work on immigration and conducting oversight of the Biden administration, as well as his record of calling for cuts to government spending throughout his legislative career. 

“The Republican majority must continue to address the issues that matter to the American people,” he wrote.

Jordan, known as a conservative firebrand, indicated that he would be open to seeking the speaker’s gavel shortly after McCarthy told House Republicans he would not try to regain his position atop the lower chamber. Asked if he would run Tuesday, Jordan told reporters, “that’s a decision for the conference.” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Rep. Kevin Hern, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, could also jump into the speaker’s race.

The Ohio Republican, who has served in Congress since 2007, currently leads the Judiciary Committee and its Weaponization of the Federal Government Select Subcommittee, which was created after Republicans took control of the House in January. Through his position as chair of the Judiciary panel, he is one of the Republicans leading the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Biden, which McCarthy announced last month.

A founding member and leader of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers, Jordan has in the past served as a thorn in the side of GOP leadership. Former House Speaker John Boehner once called him a “legislative terrorist.” He mounted a bid for House speaker in 2018 after then-Speaker Paul Ryan said he wouldn’t run for another term, but was not expected to garner support from a majority of Republicans. Democrats ended up winning control of the House after the 2018 midterm elections, and McCarthy was elected minority leader by the GOP conference. 

Though Jordan and fellow conservatives often sparred with Boehner, Jordan became an ally of McCarthy’s. He spoke in support of McCarthy’s candidacy for speaker in January and defended the embattled California Republican on Tuesday before the vote to remove him.

Jordan emerged as a possible alternative candidate for speaker at the start of the new Congress in January, garnering a handful of votes from conservative lawmakers who opposed McCarthy during more than a dozen rounds of voting.

It’s unclear whether Jordan can garner the level of support needed from the Republican conference to claim the gavel, especially from the House’s moderate wing. Given the GOP’s narrow majority, opposition to his bid from five Republicans during the formal vote on the House floor could sink Jordan’s candidacy. But some conservatives have already lined up behind Jordan, including Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Mike Carey of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indiana, who is running for the Senate.

Ellis Kim contributed to this report.

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