Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats

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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, will back Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) staying on as minority leader even if the GOP loses more House seats in November, according to a spokesman for the Ohio Republican.

Jordan’s support comes amid a growing concern among House Republicans that Democrats could increase their numbers on Election Day, with Dave Wasserman of The Cook Political Report estimating that the House GOP could lose anywhere from five to 15 seats.

When asked whether Jordan would weigh a challenge against McCarthy if Republicans lose additional seats, a spokesman quickly dismissed the possibility.

“No, he will not challenge the leader,” spokesman Russell Dye said in a statement to The Hill.

“Mr. Jordan thinks Kevin McCarthy is doing a tremendous job for the Conference,” he added.

Dye also said that Jordan would support McCarthy if another Republican challenges the leader after the Nov. 3 elections.

Jordan indicated his backing for McCarthy in January. While it seemed like an unlikely feat at the time, it then remained an open question as to whether Republicans would pick up or lose seats in November. Now, Democrats are widely expected to keep their majority and possibly increase it.

The GOP lost 40 seats in the 2018 midterms. They would need a net gain of roughly 17 seats to take back the majority.

Jordan’s support for McCarthy comes just two years after he challenged the minority leader for the top GOP post.

McCarthy bested him in a 159-43 vote, in what was seen as rebuke of the House Freedom Caucus.

The conservative group, which has been a thorn in the side of GOP leaders in the past, showed its strength in 2015 after playing a key role in then-Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) resignation. The group then blocked McCarthy from taking over Boehner’s role, paving the way for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to become Speaker.

The relationship between Jordan and McCarthy began improving when the California Republican entrusted Jordan and other Freedom Caucus members with leadership roles for the 116th Congress, a move that appears to have earned the support of formerly strident critics like Jordan.

Jordan first served as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee at the start of the 116th Congress, before becoming the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee after Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) vacated the role to run for the Senate.

McCarthy also temporarily allowed Jordan to join the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats were conducting the fact-finding phase of their impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s contacts with Ukraine.

Those roles allowed Jordan to combat Democrats during their investigation into the White House and win praise from Trump in the process.

But while McCarthy may be able to count on Jordan’s support in the event of GOP losses in November, it is not clear if members of the Freedom Caucus will follow suit.

A loss of GOP seats could make McCarthy vulnerable to other challengers. House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) has been mentioned as a potential contender. 

McCarthy, however, does have a firewall of sorts with his strong fundraising numbers. On Thursday, his office announced that he has raised a record-breaking $103 million this cycle, saying “no House Republican has raised more in an election cycle.”

Still, Republican sources have previously told The Hill that the fundraising numbers may not be enough to protect McCarthy if the GOP winds up in a worse spot after Election Day. Another consideration is whether the House GOP will choose to distance themselves from McCarthy, who has tied himself closely to the president, if Trump loses his reelection bid.

Tags 2020 elections Boehner Donald Trump Doug Collins Fundraising GOP seats House Freedom Caucus House GOP leadership Jim Jordan John Boehner Kevin McCarthy Paul Ryan Steve Scalise
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