The Republican conference on Friday voted to no longer back House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) as its Speaker nominee.
The secret ballot vote came hours after Jordan’s third failed ballot on the House floor. He had lost GOP support with each successive vote.
Friday marks the latest drama in the more than two-week saga since eight House Republicans joined with Democrats to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Oct. 3.
Jordan was the GOP’s second shot at Speaker replacement. It had first narrowly nominated House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) for the post, but resistance to his candidacy — mostly from Jordan supporters — forced him to withdraw a day later.
Scalise said after the Jordan vote on Friday he would not mount another bid for Speaker.
Jordan briefly addressed his recall after the vote.
“I told the conference it was an honor to be their speaker designee,” Jordan said. “But I felt it was important that we all — we all know an answer to the question, do they want me to continue in that — in that role. And so we put the question to them, they made a decision”
Jordan said that he is going back to work as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
“But it’s important we do unite,” Jordan said. “Let’s figure out who that individual is, get behind him and get to work for the American people.”
Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) said Jordan’s remarks in conference were “very statesman-like,” and Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.), who supported Jordan on the first two ballots but left his corner on the third, said the Ohio Republican was “classy.”
Jordan’s decision leaves the House in chaos and stuck amid a war between Israel and Hamas and a looming shutdown deadline.
Speaker Pro Tem Patrick McHenry (R-N.S.) said that the House GOP will hold a candidate forum Monday at 6:30 p.m., and a secret ballot election for a new Speaker nominee on Tuesday at 9 a.m. The deadline to declare a candidacy for Speaker is noon Sunday, members said.
“We need space and time for candidates to talk to other members,” McHenry said.
The race to succeed Jordan as the GOP’s nominee — and McCarthy as Speaker — is well underway.
And the field is already crowded.
Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, announced his own candidacy for Speaker while leaving the closed-door conference meeting. He had floated, but ultimately decided against, a run earlier this month.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), who mounted an unsuccessful last-minute bid against Jordan last week, jumped back into the race Friday afternoon. And Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) in a statement said: “My hat is in the ring.” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) is running, according to a spokesman.
House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who could be highest-ranking the most formidable Speaker candidate, is making calls about a run, according to a source familiar. And House GOP Conference Vice Chairman Mike Johnson (R-La.) is also making calls about a run.
Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) also told reporters he’s seriously considering running for Speaker and is still praying on it, while talking to his wife on the phone leaving the meeting: “What do you want me to do, honey?”
But it’s not clear at this point who could win over 217 Republicans.
“Certainly you have to work hard,” said Hern, who voted for Jordan on all three ballots. “It’s gonna require 217 and when you look at what they’ve done, you always learn from the previous candidates, what worked and what didn’t work. And again, as I said, the first week when Speaker McCarthy was moved aside, that, you know, we needed to work for unity and unity was only having two candidates in a race.
“I think our delegation needs to have somebody who wants to work to unite them, brings a different perspective, and that will be what I bring.”
Conservatives were bitter about the end of Jordan’s candidacy.
“I think we just observed the most popular Republican in Congress knifed anonymous in a closed-door secret meeting, and it was the actions of the swamp, and I think it’s really unfortunate,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who led the motion to vacate against McCarthy, told reporters.
McCarthy said after the secret ballot vote that he was concerned about who would succeed him.
“On a very serious note, this is talking about that person third in line to the presidency, and the furthest step anybody takes us from the front row to the podium,” McCarthy told reporters.
He added of Scalise and Jordan, “I hope we have some other people up for the job. They both could have done the job.”
Rebecca Beitsch contributed. Updated at 3:34 p.m.