Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker

Jordan hits campaign trail amid bid for Speaker
© Getty Images

Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanOvernight Health Care: DOJ charges doctors over illegal opioid prescriptions | Cummings accuses GOP of obstructing drug pricing probe | Sanders courts Republican voters with 'Medicare for All' | Dems probe funding of anti-abortion group Cummings accuses Oversight Republicans of obstructing drug price probe Schumer staffer-turned-wrestling coach focus of new documentary MORE (R-Ohio) is taking his Speaker’s bid to the campaign trail this weekend, fundraising for a pair of potentially vulnerable House Republicans more closely aligned with leadership than with his own conservative House Freedom Caucus.

The Chicago-area banquet with Illinois Reps. Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamBlue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try Illinois Dems offer bill to raise SALT deduction cap Illinois New Members 2019 MORE and Randy HultgrenRandall (Randy) Mark HultgrenIllinois Dems offer bill to raise SALT deduction cap The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Lauren Underwood becomes youngest ever black woman to be sworn in to Congress MORE will give Jordan a chance to showcase why he should lead House Republicans next year as he boosts members outside of his typical conservative circle — and works to save the chamber's GOP majority.

While Jordan may not be an asset in every district, the conservative firebrand can be deployed on the campaign trail to rev up the GOP base in a midterm election where Democrats are expected to have a strong enthusiasm advantage over Republicans.

ADVERTISEMENT

Jordan has already swung through Texas this week to assist Chip Roy, who is competing for an open seat in the Lone Star state, and Yvette Herrell, who is vying for an open seat in New Mexico. Another trip to Texas is also in the works.

Jordan plans to make additional campaign stops in Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Idaho and Iowa in the coming weeks.

And he has already helped fundraise for fellow Freedom Caucus member and vulnerable Rep. Dave Brat of Virginia.

“So yeah, we’re traveling,” Jordan told The Hill.

Whoever replaces retiring Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE (R-Wis.) will need to prove that they have the fundraising chops and national profile to carry the GOP conference — and Jordan is facing stiff competition from Ryan’s top two lieutenants on Capitol Hill.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyWatchdog: Custodial staff alleged sexual harassment in lawmakers' offices John Legend, Chrissy Teigen lash out at Trump at Dem retreat Republicans call for ex-Trump lawyer Cohen to be referred to DOJ MORE (R-Calif.), Ryan’s heir apparent, and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph Scalise20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform GOP to launch discharge petition on anti-BDS measure This week: Democrats revive net neutrality fight MORE (R-La.), who is waiting in the wings should McCarthy stumble, have both been crisscrossing the country and raising boatloads of cash to help protect potentially endangered members.

But Jordan’s allies argue that he would have no problem raking in similar levels of cash if he were in a high-level leadership position.

Still, they also acknowledge that the Ohio Republican is facing long odds.

“It’s an uphill battle,” Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), a Freedom Caucus member, told The Hill. “But I think it’s gotten better since he first announced. There are more people that think, ‘Oh, maybe this is possible.’ ”

Jordan, a scrappy Freedom Caucus co-founder, has been crafting his own strategy to secure the Speaker’s gavel and wasting no time since he formally jumped into the race this July.

He worked the phones over the August recess and has been talking directly to lawmakers in the Capitol this month, trying to convince Republicans why he should be their next leader.

His pitch has centered on how he would overhaul the chamber rules and run the House differently if he were in charge, a message designed to appeal to the wide range of lawmakers who are frustrated with how much power is concentrated at the top.

“I talk to members all the time,” Jordan said of his Speaker bid. “I talk about how I think this place should operate differently, the entire process.”

One of the ideas Jordan has floated is allowing the members of a committee to choose their own chairman instead of leaving it up to the Steering Committee, which gives outsize power to the Speaker and his top lieutenant in awarding gavels.

The concept could be especially attractive next year, when there will be nine GOP vacancies at the top of congressional panels.

The idea could also be appealing to the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which unveiled a package of rule reforms that they want the next Speaker to adopt.

Rep. Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedLawmakers offer bipartisan resolution highlighting sexual assault prevention GOP lawmaker: Battle over Trump tax returns 'is going to have to be litigated' Overnight Health Care: Lawmakers get deal to advance long-stalled drug pricing bill | House votes to condemn Trump's anti-ObamaCare push | Eight House Republicans join with Dems | Trump officials approve Medicaid expansion in Maine MORE (R-N.Y.), co-chairman of the caucus, said he has talked to Jordan about his vision for Speaker and gave the Ohio Republican the group’s proposal to overhaul the lower chamber.

Reed is keeping his powder dry in the race, but he said his conversation with Jordan was “positive.”

“I’m looking for rule reform,” Reed told The Hill. “As I told him, and others: I’m open to any candidate who is willing to not just kick the can down the road. Let’s do these rule reforms. We do them up front. And we get it done.”

Jordan believes he has been gaining some ground over the August recess. He pointed to Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersWe can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's Overnight Energy: Wheeler vows to keep funds for Great Lakes cleanup | Inslee presses Trump on climate in House testimony | Dems seek more funds for Interior watchdog Inslee presses Trump on climate change in House testimony MORE (Wash.), the No. 4 House Republican, who told a local paper that she is open to supporting Jordan for Speaker, though she isn’t committing to any candidate until after November.

Jordan’s allies took it as an encouraging sign that not all members of the GOP leadership team are on the same page.

And a number of lawmakers, including some outside the Freedom Caucus, told The Hill they have received phone calls from constituents urging them to support Jordan, as well as others backing McCarthy.

Jordan is supported by a number of powerful conservative groups, which have launched an aggressive grass-roots campaign to boost his candidacy and put outside pressure on lawmakers to back it. FreedomWorks also organized a rally for Jordan on the Capitol lawn for later this month.

The groups argue that Jordan, who has become one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Schiff rips Conway's 'display of alternative facts' on Russian election interference MORE’s fiercest defenders on Capitol Hill and has been leading the GOP charge against perceived bias in the Justice Department, is a tough fighter who is willing to stand up for conservative principles — an exciting prospect to the GOP base.

“The way you’re going to win elections is firing up your base. That’s the model,” said Adam Brandon, president of FreedomWorks, who has reached out to members and encouraged them to back Jordan.

Despite the grass-roots support, Jordan is still facing tough political headwinds.

There is an open investigation into whether he and other wrestling coaches at Ohio State University decades ago ignored reports of sexual abuse by a team doctor.  

So far, Jordan has largely weathered the storm, but some Republican strategists worry his public push to lead the conference could turn off independent and female voters in the midterms, especially in the wake of the “Me Too” movement.

“I like Jim Jordan, but it’s not a good time for him to run for Speaker,” said Liz Mair, a GOP strategist. “Really not helpful to the party as a whole.”

And as a bomb-throwing member of the Freedom Caucus, Jordan has burned some bridges in the Republican conference, which is why many GOP lawmakers don’t believe the conservative ideologue can amass the 218 votes needed to become Speaker on the House floor.

They say there are too many rank-and-file Republicans who still hold a grudge against Jordan for forcing out then-Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew Boehner20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Dem says marijuana banking bill will get House vote this spring Trump appears alongside Ocasio-Cortez on Time 100 list MORE, a fellow Ohio Republican, in 2015 and tormenting his successor, Ryan.

“Negligible,” said Rep. Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresOvernight Energy: GOP lawmaker parodies Green New Deal in new bill | House Republicans accuse Dems of ramming through climate bill | Park Service chief grilled over shutdown House Republicans accuse Dems of ramming through climate bill Seven Republicans vote against naming post office after ex-Rep. Louise Slaughter MORE (R-Texas) when pressed by The Hill on Jordan’s chances for becoming Speaker.

“I don’t see a path,” agreed Rep. Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority LoBiondo launches consulting firm Live coverage: House elects new Speaker as Dems take charge MORE (R-N.J.).