Republican firebrand Jim Jordan, a Trump ally, becomes first to announce speaker bid

WASHINGTON — Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on Wednesday became the first lawmaker to announce a bid for speaker of the House, one day after Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the top job in a historic vote.

Asked by reporters in the Capitol if he was running, Jordan replied unequivocally: “Yes.”

“We need to unite the conference,” said Jordan, who had just met with Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., a likely rival for speaker, to inform him of his decision.

Later Wednesday, Jordan sent a letter to colleagues touting his work on immigration and oversight issues on the Judiciary panel and asking for their support.

“Now is the time for our Republican conference to come together to keep our promises to Americans. The problems we face are challenging, but they are not insurmountable. We can focus on the changes that improve the country and unite us in offering real solutions,” Jordan wrote. “But no matter what we do, we must do it together as a conference. I respectfully ask for your support for Speaker of the House of Representatives.”

Jordan said he made his decision after many of his GOP colleagues reached out, urging him to run. A source familiar with Jordan’s thinking said the congressman has repeatedly said that choosing the next speaker “will be a decision for the conference” and now the conference is asking.

Jordan “highly respects Scalise and other candidates running,” the source added.

Minutes after his announcement, Jordan received a pair of quick endorsements. “I support Jim Jordan for Speaker,” conservative Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., wrote on X.

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“We need a conservative fighter to stand up strong to the Biden White House and Democrat Senate and I can’t think of anyone better than Jim Jordan,” added GOP Rep. Jim Banks, who is running for the Senate in Indiana.

Rep. Jordan: ‘I think the speaker has kept his word’

Oct. 3, 202302:25

Jordan has been one of Donald Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill, defending the former president as he faced two impeachment investigations in the House and now serving as one of the GOP’s leaders in the impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

In recent months, the former NCAA wrestling champ and coach had become a team player and close ally of McCarthy and his leadership team. It was McCarthy who had pushed for Jordan to get the top GOP slot on the Oversight Committee, and later the powerful Judiciary panel.

But Jordan began his career in Washington as a conservative bomb thrower, serving in 2015 as the founding chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus whose members forced then-Speaker John Boehner, a fellow Ohioan, into an early retirement.

Because of that reputation, some moderate members of the GOP Conference could balk at a Jordan speakership. And because of the GOP’s razor-thin majority, it would take just five Republicans to block Jordan in a formal speaker vote on the House floor, since Democrats are expected to unite behind Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

Kyle Stewart

Kyle Stewart is an associate producer covering Congress for NBC News.

Scott Wong

Scott Wong is a senior congressional reporter for NBC News.

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Julie Tsirkin, Rebecca Kaplan and Ali Vitalicontributed.