Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan’s loss on his first ballot for House speaker Tuesday and his effort to win the gavel despite facing 20 holdouts from within his party, has begun to expose cracks forming within the leadership of the House GOP.
House Majority Whip Tom Emmer and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik have been working behind the scenes to help Jordan flip votes this afternoon, multiple sources familiar tells CNN. But Majority Leader Steve Scalise has decided not to get actively involved – illustrating how the current top Republican leaders are taking different approaches to the speakership drama, with emotions still raw inside the conference.
After Scalise dropped out of the race and Jordan went on to become the nominee last week, Scalise immediately committed to voting for Jordan and encouraged his supporters to do the same. But, Scalise rebuffed a request from Jordan to give a nominating speech on the floor on Tuesday. And after Jordan failed to secure the speakership on the first ballot, Scalise was noncommittal about helping Jordan further, a source added.
Jordan’s allies were hoping that Scalise supporters would help whip fellow Scalise allies who voted against Jordan. But Scalise’s allies feel like they did far more to rally around Jordan than Jordan did when Scalise initially won the nomination last week.
It’s not the first time that the speakership scramble has exposed fault lines in the upper ranks of House GOP leadership.
After Jordan secured his party’s speaker nomination, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy urged the conference to rally around Jordan, according to multiple lawmakers in the room.
It was a notably different posture than the one McCarthy took toward Scalise, his former top deputy who has long been seen as his potential rival. McCarthy did not give a speech after Scalise secured his party nomination on Wednesday, sources said.
And now, McCarthy has been counseling Jordan on his speaker’s race strategy, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation, a far more active role than he appeared to be playing when Scalise was the speaker nominee.
McCarthy and Jordan were seen huddling on the floor on Tuesday, and after the first ballot, Jordan decamped to the former speaker’s suite. One source noted that McCarthy — who went through 15 rounds of voting before securing the gavel — “has been there before.”