Jordan Activates Right-Wing Campaign in Push to Win Speakership

Jordan Activates Right Wing Campaign in Push to Win Speakership | ltc-a

Representative Jim Jordan and his allies have begun a right-wing pressure campaign against Republicans opposed to electing him speaker, working to unleash the rage of the party’s base voters against any lawmaker standing in the way of his election.

Even after Mr. Jordan, the hard-right Ohio Republican, won his party’s nomination for the post on Friday, he remained far short of the 217 votes he needed to win the gavel, with scores of his colleagues refusing to back him.

In efforts to close the gap, lawmakers and activists close to him have taken to social media and the airwaves to blast the Republicans they believe are blocking his path to victory and encourage voters to browbeat them into supporting Mr. Jordan.

It is an extraordinary instance of Republican-on-Republican fighting that underscores the divisions that have wrought chaos inside the party, paralyzing the House of Representatives in the process. Several of Mr. Jordan’s supporters have posted the phone numbers of mainstream G.O.P. lawmakers they count as holdouts, encouraging followers to flood the Capitol switchboard with calls demanding they back Mr. Jordan — or face the wrath of conservative voters as they gear up for primary season.

“You want to explain to your voters why you blocked Jordan?” Representative Anna Paulina Luna, Republican of Florida, wrote on X. “Then bring it.”

The strategy is reminiscent of the bullying tactics that Mr. Jordan and his allies have used over the past decade to pull the G.O.P. further to the right, and borrows a page from former President Donald J. Trump, who is backing Mr. Jordan.

It is also an approach that helped propel the House G.O.P. into its current leadership crisis. Republicans last year fielded several extreme-right congressional candidates who were popular with the base but ultimately could not win general elections in competitive districts, leaving them with a razor-thin majority in the House. A new generation of hard-liners has been able to exploit the tiny governing margin, dethroning one speaker and scuttling the bid of his heir apparent.

Mr. Jordan’s closeness with the former president has given him unparalleled cachet with the party base, and his backers were counting on that to help him prevail in a vote that could come as early as Tuesday.

While Friday’s votes were secret ballots, by Saturday, right-wing activists appeared to have identified about a dozen holdouts against Mr. Jordan as top targets for their onslaught.

Amy Kremer, a political activist affiliated with the Tea Party movement and Mr. Trump who also leads Women for America First, which organized a “Stop the Steal” rally in 2021, posted a hit list of 12 members on Friday. She listed their office phone numbers and urged her followers to call them and tell them to support Mr. Jordan. The list included Representatives Ann Wagner of Missouri, Mike Rogers of Alabama and Carlos Gimenez of Florida, all of whom have publicly stated their opposition to Mr. Jordan.

“Call him and tell him this is not acceptable,” Ms. Kremer wrote about Representative Greg Murphy of North Carolina. “He needs to get onboard with Jordan and stop adding to the chaos.”

Mr. Jordan’s supporters said his decision to send lawmakers home to their districts over the weekend rather than keeping them in Washington for one-on-one meetings to drum up support was a deliberate move to intensify grass-roots pressure on them to fall into line.

“Everybody’s going to go home, listen to their constituents, and make a decision,” said Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee, predicting that hearing from the party base would help sway holdouts in Mr. Jordan’s direction. “Honestly, the grass roots, there’s nobody stronger.”

Despite being revered by hard-liners and branded a “legislative terrorist” by a former Republican speaker, Mr. Jordan has more recently allied himself with his party’s leaders.

The Ohio lawmaker backed the debt limit deal that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy struck with President Biden and did not join the far right’s move to grind the House floor to a halt in protest of that agreement, or their effort to oust Mr. McCarthy. He has already said he intends to have the House vote on a stopgap spending measure to keep the government open — the sin that got Mr. McCarthy booted — and has managed to keep conservative hard-liners in his camp.

But some mainstream Republicans are opposing Mr. Jordan on principle. They differ with him on matters of policy, nowhere more sharply than on continuing to fund the war in Ukraine, a priority for many of them to which Mr. Jordan and his “America First” allies are deeply opposed.

Many of them are also reluctant to reward what they see as bad behavior, by giving the far-right lawmakers who forced Mr. McCarthy from his post and touched off the current governing crisis their preferred leader.

“I’m a no on allowing Matt Gaetz and the other seven to win by putting their individual in as speaker,” said Representative John Rutherford, referring to his fellow Florida Republican who forced the vote on removing Mr. McCarthy from the speakership, and the G.O.P. lawmakers who voted with him.

That stance has earned Mr. Rutherford a target on his back from the hard right.

“@RepRutherfordFL would vote against Speaker-Designate Jim Jordan just to spite me,” Mr. Gaetz wrote on X. “I hope he gets some feedback from Floridians that this is selfish and bad for the country.”

It was unclear whether the pressure campaign would be able to net Mr. Jordan the votes he needed. On Friday, 81 Republicans backed a late entry to the race, Representative Austin Scott of Georgia, to lodge a protest vote against Mr. Jordan. Mr. Scott quickly swung in line behind Mr. Jordan after his defeat. But on a second ballot asking simply whether G.O.P. lawmakers would support the Ohio Republican if the speaker nomination went to the floor, 55 still said no.

Some conservative strategists close to Mr. Jordan believe he will easily be able to win over his detractors, institutionalists who put a high premium on a functioning government and projecting normalcy. Unlike the hard right, the strategists argue, staging a floor revolt simply isn’t in their nature.

“These 60 members are not voting against Jordan on the floor,” Russell T. Vought, president of the Center for Renewing America, a think tank with ties to Mr. Trump, and a strategist close to Mr. Jordan, wrote on X. “Take it to the floor & call their bluff.”

Luke Broadwater and Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.