WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, announced his plans to run for speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday.
Jordan’s spokesman Ian Fury confirmed the congressman sent a letter to his Republican colleagues shortly before noon declaring his intentions.
In the letter, Jordan said President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 to drain the swamp and while he has made Americans proud, “many believe that our congressional majorities have let them down” when it comes to reform.
Jordan, 54, said if he and his colleagues were able to do “basic” things between now and November, “voters would be inspired to give us a chance to run this place again.”
This list includes: repealing Obamacare, passing across-the-board welfare reform that requires able-bodied adults to work in order to get benefits, building a border security wall along the shared border with Mexico, making the 2017 tax cuts permanent, ending taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood and enacting “meaningful, immediate spending cuts.”
Jordan, who co-founded the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he’s committed to doing everything he can for Republicans to keep the majority in the House and once that’s taken care of, he plans to shift his vision.
“After that, we can focus on filling the vacancy resulting from (Speaker Paul Ryan’s) retirement from Congress,” he said. “At that time, I plan to run for Speaker of the House to bring real change to Congress.”
Jordan’s announcement came the day after he joined U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, in introducing articles of impeachment against Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for allegedly keeping information from Congress in relation to claims that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election.
The announcement also comes as Jordan becomes further embroiled in the scandal surrounding a deceased athletic doctor at the Ohio State University, where Jordan attended and later served as an assistant wrestling coach.
Jordan has been accused by some former athletes for having knowledge of sexual abuse allegations on the part of Dr. Richard Strauss but not saying anything. Jordan, along with other wrestlers, has publicly said he was never aware of abuse when he was a coach from 1987 to 1995.
More than 100 former students have provided firsthand accounts of sexual abuse in an ongoing investigation being conducted for Ohio State and more than 200 former students and university employees have been interviewed regarding the allegations involving male athletes from 14 sports.
David Arredondo, vice chairman of the Lorain County Republican Party, said he doesn’t believe the abuse allegations will hurt Jordan when it comes time to have the speaker vote in January.
“I think that’s something that’s out of his control,” Arredondo said. “If he felt as though he was complicit in something like that he wouldn’t be exposing himself in this way and it might not even come up during the speakership process.”
Arredondo said a lot could happen between now and a vote, including the November elections.
“Whether you’re running locally or nationally, though, you have to start a campaign early to make sure you get your message out,” he said. “He’s got to be able to work and raise money so no, it’s not too soon.”
Arredondo also said even though U.S. Reps. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, and Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, are being tossed around as potential names for speaker and are both already in leadership, Jordan shouldn’t be counted out.
“Calling him a long-shot remains to be seen,” he said. “Right now Jim’s chances are just as good as the others and I can’t recall anyone in the GOP caucus having anything contrary to say about him.”
Jordan said should Republicans have the majority in the 116th Congress, which would mean stopping Democrats from gaining an additional 23 seats, the party’s clear mandate should be to continue working with Trump to keep the promises they’ve made.
“I want to help keep us on this track and shape bold, visionary policy that will help improve the lives of the people we have the honor to represent,” he said. “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.”
Janet Garrett, a Democrat from Oberlin who is challenging Jordan for his seat for the third time, said in a statement she has been driving around the 4th congressional district for months “hearing people’s concerns about the struggles they face every day.
“One thing is abundantly clear: Washington is broken, and people think their representatives are totally disconnected from their everyday challenges,” she said. “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 represents part of western and most of central Lorain County, including Elyria, Sheffield, Amherst, South Amherst, Oberlin and Grafton as well as Amherst, Henrietta, New Russia, Pittsfield, Carlisle, Elyria and Camden Townships.
Tony Giardini, the chairman of the Lorain County Democratic Party, said “it’s a shame” the congressman from Ohio seeking the speakership is Jordan because normally, having the speaker from Ohio is a point of pride.
“Having the person be from Ohio would be a huge plus,” he said. “(Former U.S. Rep. John Boehner) was conservative, but having him in the leadership was good for Ohio. He was a good representative and a good speaker.”
Boehner, R-West Chester, resigned from the speakership and the House of Representatives in 2015, making way for Ryan.
In a press release Thursday, the Ohio Democratic Party said Boehner once referred to Jordan as “a legislative terrorist” and Republican members of Congress should consider if they want to stand with Jordan or stand up for Rosenstein and the Russia investigation.
“This is a moment for leadership -- and Ohio Republicans are being tested right now,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said in the release. “Jim Jordan’s ambition to become the next Speaker of the House knows no bounds, and he’s turning an independent investigation of a foreign attack on our nation’s electoral system into a political football. It’s shameful -- but if Republicans like Steve Stivers, Steve Chabot, Mike Turner, Bob Gibbs and Dave Joyce don’t speak out and call on Jordan to stop, they are complicit in his nasty, uncivil behavior.”
Giardini said while Jordan’s district is mostly Republican, he isn’t a good representative for the constituents because he’s used his power to question the validity of those conducting the Russia investigation, including Rosenstein.
“He’s questioning people who have served in the military or law enforcement for their entire adult lives for the sole purpose of protecting the president even though this investigation is valid, necessary and reasonable,” he said.
Giardini said this is all assuming the Republicans can hold a majority in the House, but there are better members of that party better suited for the job.
“Jordan would be a divisive guy to serve a divisive president,” he said. “Any semblance of balance would be gone. It’s already bad with Paul Ryan at the helm but he isn’t being nearly as divisive and he’s had to disagree with the president at times.”
Arredondo said as a local party leader, people come to him and ask if they should run for elected office and he always says yes.
“I encourage anyone and everyone to run and stand up for what they believe in,” he said. “Jim’s a good friend of mine and the part in Lorain County so I support him in his candidacy for this and encourage him.”
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