Republicans choose Rep. Jim Jordan over Rep. Austin Scott as nominee for speaker ahead of House vote

Jordan is calling members to ask for their support, sources tell ABC News.

ByRachel Scott, Mariam Khan, and Benjamin Siegel ABCNews logo
Friday, October 13, 2023
With Scalise out, all eyes on Jim Jordan in chaotic House speaker race
House Republicans will cast ballots for the next speaker in a candidate forum Friday afternoon -- now with two candidates: Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Austin Scott.

House Republicans voted Friday to nominate conservative firebrand Jim Jordan for speaker of the House -- the latest twist in a chaotic battle for speakership.

Jordan, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, received 124 votes -- still more than 90 votes shy of the 217 he will need to grab the gavel in a vote on the House floor, according to members and aides who were the room. That floor vote has not yet been scheduled.

"I think I can bring our team together," Jordan, R-Ohio, said to ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott as he walked into the candidate forum Friday afternoon.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio talks with reporters as House Republicans meet behind closed doors to elect a new speaker at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Oct. 13, 2023.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Jordan had an opponent in the conference vote for speaker: Rep. Austin Scott, who filed to run for the top spot shortly before the vote went down. Scott received 81 votes in the candidate forum.

Jordan had earlier pulled out of the speaker race, saying he would cast a vote for Rep. Steve Scalise after the majority leader earned the nomination is a similar closed-door session Wednesday. Scalise backed out Thursday night after he failed to secure the votes needed to become speaker.

When Scalise won the nomination earlier this week, he had 113 votes -- 11 votes fewer than Jordan had Friday.

It has been a disorderly speaker contest that began after the historic ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy just over a week ago.

McCarthy said he now backs Jordan for the position. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Jordan early in the race for speaker, which could work both for and against his chances.

FILE - Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, left, and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, right, and have entered the race to replace Rep. Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In the ramp up to the candidate forum, some members said they hadn't committed to Jordan, signaling that optimism was fading among some of them.

"There's not a person in America -- and that includes the Republican conference -- that is going to get 217 votes," Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., told ABC News' Scott Friday.

He issued a blistering warning this could have consequences ahead of the 2024 election.

"This is not the place you want to be as you start moving into the election cycle. And 2024 America collectively may indeed say that we handed you the reins of power in the House of Representatives. And this is what we got for it and so it wouldn't surprise me if they don't demand it back," he said.

Womack would not say before the vote if he supported Jordan -- saying he had some concerns and calling him a "polarizing figure."

"... I believe our best speaker candidate needs to be able to appeal to the House as a whole," Womack said.

There are serious questions about whether any Republican can unite the party.

McCarthy insisted the conferences is not fractured, saying that "It's 4% of the conference ... it's 4% of the conference and all the Democrats that want this chaos."

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said before the vote that he hadn't decided if he would support Jordan because he doesn't want to reward bad behavior -- expressing frustration with the Republican rebels that pushed the party to this point.

"We had a lot of members ... [say] they'd only vote for Jim. That bothers a lot of us. It's not really Jim's fault. But it bothers because you reward bad behavior. And so we pretty much have to grapple with that," Bacon said.

After two weeks of paralysis in the House, some members are growing frustrated.

"The problem has been consistently that we've allowed emotion to get in the way of logic and in a way of the necessity to actually govern," Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., said. "I did not come here to be emotional. I came here to govern. And the quicker we get past that, the better off we are."

The pressure is on for Republicans to elect a new speaker so the House can provide aid to Israel after Hamas-led attacks have left more than 1,200 dead -- including at least 27 Americans. The new speaker will also come in with a little more than a month to push through funding legislation to prevent a partial government shutdown, which would have rippling consequences for millions of employees and recipients of social services.

ABC News' John Parkinson and Jay O'Brien contributed to this report