U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) announced in a letter to his colleagues on Thursday morning that he plans to run for Speaker of the House if re-elected to a seat in the 116th Congress.
The announcement comes on the heels of his motion on Wednesday evening to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Jordan and the other Republicans who introduced the resolution have criticized Rosenstein and Justice Department officials for not being responsive enough as House committees have requested documents related to the beginning of the Russia investigation and a closed investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails.
In the letter to his colleagues on Thursday morning, Jordan wrote, “Should the American people entrust us with the majority again in the 116th Congress, our clear mandate will be to continue working with President Trump to keep the promises we made, to stand up for the rule of law and the Constitution, and to put the interests of the people before those of the swamp. I want to help keep us on this track and shape bold, visionary policy that will improve the lives of the people we have the honor to represent.
“President Trump has taken bold action on behalf of the American people. Congress has not held up its end of the deal, but we can change that,” Jordan added in the letter.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House, is retiring from Congress. Speculation has swirled recently about who will succeed him in the leadership role if Republicans retain control of the House of Representatives after the 2018 November election.
Conservatives’ frustration has mounted that party leaders haven’t aggressively pushed President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Jordan, 54, is a founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has roughly 30 members among the chamber’s current 236 Republicans. He is in his sixth term in Congress after serving Ohio term-limited stints a state senator and state representative.
House Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the second-ranking leader now, is viewed as the favorite to succeed Ryan. The No. 3 GOP leader, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who is close to many conservatives, also is seen as potential contender.
In his letter to colleagues, Jordan lamented hearing “the same old talk” and advocated “changing the way this place operates” after Congress returns from its August recess. That recess began Thursday afternoon and continues for five weeks.
Jordan also advocated House power being “decentralized” and proposed that committee assignments be made on talent, merit and experience.
“And with nine new committee chairs to be decided next year, it’s time for a complete shakeup of the process for selecting committee chairs. Rank-and-file members know who has the skills to get the best policies enacted and conduct rigorous oversight,” Jordan stated.
“For us to have a chance to make these changes, though, we must keep control of the House. I am committed to doing everything I can to make that happen. That goal must be everyone’s top priority,” he added. “After that, we can focus on filling the vacancy resulting from Speaker Ryan’s retirement from Congress.”
Jordan’s candidacy appears to be aimed at rallying fellow conservatives and giving them leverage when the party picks its leadership team for the next Congress, perhaps influencing the speakership race or positioning Jordan for another top job.
Many other GOP lawmakers frequently bristle at his caucus, which they consider too inflexible and dogmatic.
Ryan is retiring when the current Congress adjourns in January. Republicans will lose House control next year if Democrats gain 23 additional seats in this November’s elections, an outcome that is considered quite possible.
Jordan has been a leading actor in the GOP’s assault on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and that effort’s ties to Trump’s campaign. In recent days, he’s been among a handful of conservatives seeking to impeach Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller’s work.
The obstacles in Jordan’s path
Jordan is facing a challenge in November from Oberlin Democrat Janet Garrett. This is her third attempt to unseat Jordan in a general election.
“For months now, I’ve been driving around the district hearing people’s concerns about the struggles they face every day,” Garrett said in a prepared statement after Jordan’s announcement. “One thing is abundantly clear: Washington is broken, and people think their representatives are totally disconnected from their everyday challenges. The voters will have to decide whether Jim Jordan is part of the problem or part of the solution. For my part, I’m going to stand up to attacks on women’s health care, fight for workers’ rights, and help families afford the health care they need while reaching across the aisle to bring people together and solve our problems.”
Jordan is rebounding publicly from accusations earlier this month that he knew about allegations of sexual misconduct against a doctor at Ohio State University while Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach for the Buckeyes. The alleged misconduct by Dr. Richard Strauss, now deceased, reportedly occurred from the mid-1970s to the late-1990s. Jordan’s coaching job overlapped with a portion of that time period, 1986-1994, when Strauss served at Ohio State. Jordan has repeatedly and vehemently denied any knowledge of the alleged “abuse” that is now part of an independent investigation on behalf of Ohio State, and he is reportedly cooperating with investigators.
Former wrestlers have filed two federal lawsuits against Ohio State alleging that it ignored concerns raised about sexual abuse by Strauss. The lawsuits were brought by a total of five former wrestlers who allege they were victims of sexual misconduct by Strauss. According to published media reports earlier this month, Jordan has been named in one of the lawsuits for “failing to prevent sexual abuse perpetrated by a university doctor.”
Both lawsuits seek unspecified monetary damages and propose to represent all Ohio State students mistreated by Strauss.
Ohio State has said the university response to concerns about Strauss is a key focus of the independent investigation.