WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) of Champaign County is among the many names being tossed about by political analysts as a possibility to be the next House speaker following the abrupt announcement by Rep. Kevin McCarthy that he was withdrawing from the race.
Jordan’s press secretary, Darin Miller, said early Thursday afternoon that Jordan was “in a meeting with colleagues” and that the office had “nothing official to report.”
Jordan represents Ohio’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Champaign County. If he is interested in the Speaker’s job, it would be a change from his position from Wednesday. Jordan chairs the influential House Freedom Caucus, which announced late Wednesday it was supporting Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., and intended to vote as a bloc against McCarthy.
However, conservatives leaders of the Freedom Caucus were regrouping Thursday to assess options. Many conservatives said they would not necessarily stick with Webster and that all options were open as they tried to push forward a leader.
“You could start talking about a caretaker, you could start talking about somebody in the center who would be acceptable to both sides,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina.
Party officials canceled plans for Thursday’s nomination vote. The fate of a scheduled Oct. 29 floor vote to elect the next speaker remains unclear.
Lawmakers had settled in for a long session over barbecue sandwiches Thursday when McCarthy stood up and told his peers he wasn’t the right candidate at this moment for the Speaker’s job.
“We’re servants. We should put this conference first,” McCarthy said in announcing his withdrawal. “If we are going to unite and be strong, we need a new face.”
With Congress in recess next week, another round of nomination voting is not expected until the week of Oct 19 at the soonest.
McCarthy’s bid for the post was hurt after a high-profile TV stumble in which he appeared to suggest that the GOP-led House investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack was partly aimed at weakening Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton. Critics capitalized on the remark.
“That wasn’t helpful,” McCarthy said Thursday at a press conference, as his wife stood beside him. “I could have said it much better.”
Some Republicans were hoping to recruit Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the former GOP vice presidential candidate, for the post. But Ryan has repeatedly said he is not interested.
He repeated that in a statement Thursday.
“Kevin McCarthy is best person to lead the House, and so I’m disappointed in this decision,” Ryan said. “Now it is important that we, as a conference, take time to deliberate and seek new candidates for the speakership. While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.”
Another candidate Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who made a last-minute play to run as an alternative to McCarthy, suffered a setback when his campaign was panned by the conservatives, leaving him without a base of support.
More moderate Republicans though said it was time for deep soul-searching in the GOP to decide whether they want to continue allowing a minority of the most conservative Republicans to have such power.
Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who was backing McCarthy, said he warned Republicans that “those who wanted to take down John Boehner will frag the next guy and that’s what we saw just happened. … I’m not going to support anyone running for Speaker who is going to appease the rejectionist wing of this party.”
The next speaker’s challenge will be “simply to unite a divided Republican caucus,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
“There is a minority group of conservative Republican politicians that places their own extreme ideology ahead of everything else, and certainly ahead of effective governance of the country – but also as of today, ahead of the effective governance of the House Republican caucus,” Earnest said.
Someone will have to step forward to either “tame the forces of that small but vocal group of extreme ideologues or buck up the mainstream, or at least more mainstream, majority within the House Republican conference,” Earnest said.