Speaker Race: 'Legislative Terrorist' Or 'David Duke Without The Baggage'
The race for the next speaker of the House is on. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) have both declared that they want the job. The official launch of the contest will be at a House Republican forum next Tuesday, led by interim Speaker Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY). The voting is expected to begin Wednesday. Who knows when it could end?
Democrats will do what they did both in the first speaker’s election and in the motion to oust McCarthy: unite behind Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). So it’s going to be up to Republicans to figure this one out on their own. And what a decision it will be.
Jordan, currently chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and chief Hunter Biden dick-pic promoter, was the founding chairman of the Freedom Caucus way back when. Jordan is a key architect of the total chaos that’s now the norm for the Republican-controlled House. After being hounded into retirement by the maniacs, former Speaker John Boehner said, “Jordan was a terrorist as a legislator going back to his days in the Ohio House and Senate. … A terrorist. A legislative terrorist.”
Jordan’s pre-legislative career as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University has been a persistent public-relations problem for him. Former student athletes credibly allege that he refused to intervene when they asked for his help against a team doctor who had sexually abused them. Jordan denies that he knew about the abuse. One of the former students, Tito Vazquez, said that he complained to Jordan, who allegedly replied, “I have nothing to do with this.”
That doesn’t speak directly to Jordan as a legislator, though it is a reflection of his character. What does speak to Jordan in Congress is his record. In 2021, the Center for Effective Lawmaking—a joint project of the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University—ranked Jordan as 202 out of 205 on the effectiveness scale for congressional Republicans. They put him at 217 out of 222 Republicans in the most recent, complete session of Congress. Lawmaking isn’t really his thing. Yelling for the cameras is.
Jordan was one of the 147 Congressional Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 election on the night of January 6, 2021, after the hours-long assault on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob of Donald Trump supporters. A close Trump ally, Jordan is known to have conferred at length with Trump on the morning of Jan. 6. He defied the House committee investigating Jan. 6, refusing to comply even when subpoenaed.
Given all that history, Jordan’s campaign pledges to “fix the institution” and “unify the party” don’t even reach the threshold of laughable.
Scalise, the current House majority leader, would at least have the advantage of knowing how the House is supposed to work and being able to organize it, since he also served as party whip.
Scalise once allegedly told Stephanie Grace, a Louisiana reporter and political columnist, that he considered himself “like David Duke without the baggage.” In 2014, a Louisiana blogger reported that Scalise “was allegedly an honored guest and speaker at an international conference of white supremacist leaders” in 2002. The event was organized by Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
The lawmaker didn’t deny attending the conference when the story broke, but issued a statement calling it “a mistake I regret.” He said he was there “as a state representative, trying to build support for legislation that focused on cutting wasteful state spending, eliminating government corruption, and stopping tax hikes.” In his statement, he also suggested that the international conference of white supremacists was just another “Louisiana group.”
Scalise probably has the edge among members of the GOP conference. He’s both liked among the moderates and a dogged fundraiser, bringing in $170 million in the past decade for Republican candidates. When Scalise says, “I firmly believe this conference is a family,” it will at least be plausible to his colleagues. His sympathy ploy will probably work, too. “When I was shot in 2017, it was members of this conference who saved my life on that field,” he wrote in his statement announcing his candidacy for speaker. “When I was in the hospital for nearly 15 weeks, it was the possibility of getting back to work with all of you that kept me motivated to get better.”
One person to whom Scalise isn’t family is his last boss, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. There’s bad blood between them going back to at least 2018, when Scalise challenged McCarthy to succeed the previous guy hounded out by the Freedom Caucus, former Speaker Paul Ryan.
McCarthy hasn’t weighed in publicly, but his staff—with or without McCarthy’s blessing—has been making phone calls to Republican lawmakers to boost Jordan. Semafor reports that their source doesn’t refer to the effort as “endorsing” Jordan. Instead, they say it’s “consulting and providing guidance” to Jordan’s team. Sure.
Of course McCarthy would prioritize his petty feud with Scalise over what could be considered better for the party. The hilarious irony:
Meanwhile, the guy who brought McCarthy down, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), calls Jordan—the guy McCarthy is probably backing—his “mentor.” You really can’t make this shit up.
McCarthy could also be trying to stay on good terms with the MAGA crowd, perhaps even envisioning himself on the ticket with Donald Trump in 2024. It’s not like he really has a future in the House anymore, and he’s probably egotistical enough to consider himself a valid contender. For now, Trump is staying out of it, claiming he’s focused on his presidential run (cough, defending himself against 91 felony indictments). There is a rumor going around though that he’ll visit the House Republicans as they work out who should be speaker.
So all those “moderate” Republicans have quite a choice facing them: Go with the alleged white supremacist, or blatantly turn the House into an arm of the Trump 2024 campaign. Of course, there’s always the option that consistently got the most votes for speaker during the first 14 rounds of voting back in January: Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.
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