Jordan out as speaker candidate in secret ballot after top ally warned death threats "will continue"

Republicans voted against keeping Jordan as the speaker designee — so they'll start from scratch next week

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published October 20, 2023 2:36PM (EDT)

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) sits in the House chamber after the House of Representatives failed to elevate Jordan to Speaker of the House for the third time in the U.S. Capitol on October 20, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) sits in the House chamber after the House of Representatives failed to elevate Jordan to Speaker of the House for the third time in the U.S. Capitol on October 20, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is out as the Republican Party's speaker designee after losing a secret ballot shortly after losing his third attempt to be elected speaker on the House floor Friday.

With only 194 votes — compared to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries' 210 — Jordan fell dramatically short of the majority needed to secure the speaker's gavel in the absence of four lawmakers, according to The Washington Post. Twenty-five Republicans opposed Jordan on in the latest vote, a figure up from 20 in Tuesday's count and 22 in Wednesday's total.

Republicans held a caucus meeting after the vote where a majority of members voted against Jordan, meaning the party will look for a new candidate next week. "122-86 was the final tally," Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman reported. "Jordan went down handily."

The House has been without a speaker for 17 days following former Speaker Kevin McCarthy's, R-Calif., ouster, a move propelled by the same GOP in-fighting between the far-right and moderate factions that's delayed the elevation of the California Republican's replacement. As the GOP's internal division belabors the process of electing a new leader for the chamber, lawmakers are also stalled in responding to any legislation brought to the floor, including the $106 billion in aid President Joe Biden is requesting for Ukraine and Israel.

But casting a darkening shadow over the Ohio Republican's repeated, failed bids for the speakership are the mounting number of death threats against Republican holdouts coming from his far-right allies. 

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., became the latest member of Congress to report he got death threats in connection with his refusal to support Jordan's effort, The Hill reports. Buck, who voted for Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn. in all three ballots this week, told NBC Thursday that his office received four death threats out of the 20,000 phone calls his team had fielded. He also noted that he lost office space over his stance. 

“I’ve been evicted from my office in Colorado. I have notice of an eviction because the landlord is mad with my voting record on the Speaker issue,” Buck told the outlet. “And everybody in the conference is getting this. Family members have been approached and threatened. All kinds of things are going on. There’s going to be some tension.”

Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa; Drew Ferguson, R-Ga.; and Don Bacon, R-Neb. also reported being threatened for not backing the Ohio Republican.

Bacon, a Republican centrist who doubled down on his opposition to Jordan in the face of the threats, told the Associated Press that the barrage of harassing text messages and phone calls led his wife to sleep with a loaded gun near her bedside one night. 

"Ferguson told the conference that he‘s had to have a sheriff stationed at his daughter’s school over death threats from the far right. Also one at his house,” a senior GOP source told Axios reporter Juliegrace Brufke.

CNN also obtained an alarming voicemail threatening the wife of an unnamed GOP congressman who opposed Jordan, Mediaite reports.

"Why is your husband such a pig?" the call began before descending into a profane, vitriolic threat. "Why would he get on TV and make an a—hole of himself? Because he’s a deep-state prick? Because he doesn’t represent the people? So what we’re gonna do is we’re going f—king follow you all over the place. We’re gonna be up your ass f—king nonstop. We are now Antifa."

The caller went on to deride the congressman using a homophobic slur and restated their vow to follow the wife "to every appointment you have, everything you f—king do" and bombard her with messages after claiming to have doxxed her.

"Jim Jordan or more conservative or you’re going to be f—king molested like you can’t ever imagine," the caller concluded. "And again, non-violently. You won’t go to the beauty parlor. You must be a b—h to marry a f—king ugly motherf—er like that."

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Despite the severity of the threats leveled against their colleagues, some of Jordan's allies have chosen to minimize them altogether and even blame the holdouts for the vitriol they're facing. 

In a meeting Thursday between the Freedom Caucus co-founder and his opponents, his close ally, Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, said that it's not Jordan's supporters' fault that the holdouts are receiving death threats but theirs for voting against him, sources told Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman. That harassment "will continue as long as people oppose Jordan for speaker," Davidson added per Sherman. 

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., a top ally of the Ohioan, dismissed the threats against his colleagues to reporters outside the chamber Friday, dubbing them "another red herring."

“All of us in Congress receive death threats. I don’t know if that’s a newsflash for anybody here, there are people out in the world that dislike us and threaten us. That’s nothing new. It’s nothing new to any member of Congress. We all know it,” he said per Mediaite

"They didn’t seem to mind, no one in this town seemed to mind the pressure campaign from all the lobbyists and the special interests in Washington, D.C. in January," Perry added. "But suddenly, now they mind all the calls, and the emails, and the texts, and the letters, and the visits from their own constituents."

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Earlier Friday, Perry had already made his stance on the GOP holdouts known, writing on X, formerly Twitter, "If you’re not voting for Jim Jordan, you at least owe it to the American People to tell them the REAL REASON."

Jordan, whose allies were blamed for "bullying" tactics and pressure campaigns in the days leading up to this week's votes in an effort to get support from those opponents, condemned the "abhorrent" threats and harassment being directed toward his colleagues in a Wednesday tweet, calling for them to stop. 

After Friday's third failed vote, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, during an appearance on CNN  reflected on the attacks being leveled against opposing Republicans and the attention the GOP's internal unrest over the speakership is taking from their real work.

"These attacks have become extremely vicious. They're different," he told Jake Tapper. "I've been a subject of a lot of attacks from the far-right. These are different, and they have entrenched the opposition. They're not moving."

Crenshaw went on to predict that any votes held over the weekend would "definitely backfire" on Jordan as he'd likely lose more supporters.

"I think the conference needs a reset. The reset was proposed yesterday frankly, which was to empower Speaker pro tempore McHenry with temporary powers to simply bring bills to the floor," he explained, adding "That would allow us to reset — stop yelling at each other, stop pretending that its the people's work when you're just in a room yelling at each other about who's the most popular. That's not the people's work. The people's work is what we do on committees. We legislate."

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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