Jim Jordan was a Capitol Hill star because he pushed Democrats harder and nudged his own party to the right. In a GOP-controlled House, he may return to this dynamic next year.
Eight-term Ohio Republican, is poised for leadership-rich power in a Republican majority. He will wield the Judiciary Committee’s powerful mallet if the GOP flips the House in November as is likely. Jordan will reach a new peak not only for him but also for the pro-Trump Freedom Caucus, empowering its original co-founder to deal with impeachments and immigration.
This perch will allow him to wage political warfare against Democrats. The Biden White House is already preparing for aggressive pushback at the House Republican investigations. It will give Jordan the opportunity to embrace his old-school Freedom Caucus self and choose issues where his affinity with conservatives and younger members, paired with off-the-Hill influence, can help him push the party in his Trumpian direction.
That influence is real. Interviews with almost a dozen lawmakers reveal that Jordan still holds unparalleled power within the party, even though other House GOP leaders might run afoul to its base. His reputation in the Trump world and conservative media gives him the tools to, when and if he so desires, undercut his leadership colleagues who have elevated him since he supported them from the minority.
Jordan spoke out to POLITICO to say that he doesn’t mind using his influence to push fellow Republicans. He also outlined where he would like to see changes in a GOP-controlled House.
Jordan identified “four major moments” for 2023, where he sees opportunities to fight the political riptide. This includes a Democratic White House, possibly Senate, that would likely wash away much their recently-rolled-out commitment to America agenda.
Jordan stated that the old saying is that the man who takes you to Super Bowl gets to coach it. “So I believe that if we win [Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy] will be the speaker. It’s crucial that we do what we promised and do the things that the American people have voted for.
The four areas Jordan suggested for Republicans to focus on could highlight divisions within them. The House GOP has rejected this Congress’ Mitch McConnell-negotiated agreements on the debt ceiling, government funding; a Trump-fueled schism helped sink surveillance plans in 2020; conservatives also helped to repeal a 2018 farm bill under Paul Ryan, then-Speaker.
It’s not unusual for Jordan to invoke these four topics, and it may give leadership heartburn. Rep. Dan Bishop (R.N.C.), an ally to the Ohioan, highlighted the dichotomy by describing Jordan as an “enthusiastic fan” of McCarthy and who will “help in holding the conference’s feet up to the fire”.
Bishop stated, “I believe he is the changer,” referring to Jordan’s mantra of de-emphasizing antagonism with leadership while helping “facilitate positivity.” Bishop then attached a warning shot that was leadership-sized: “Half measures and business as usual will not be accepted.”
Jordan was first elected in 2006. He is not unfamiliar with antagonizing leaders from both parties. In 2015, he co-founded the House Freedom Caucus. He was later labeled a “legislative terror” by John Boehner. One of the GOP speakers he ran off from him, and then unsuccessfully challenged McCarthy to be the minority leader. He’s been a more active participant in the conference’s shifts, and has led the GOP defense against Trump’s two impeachments as well as the Jan. 6 select commission.
“I believe that’s where Jim made his presence known and influenced the overall direction for the conference,” stated Rep. Chip Roy, (R-Texas).
This approach has led Democrats to be ready to throw salt on their faces when Jordan is near. They view him as the Donald Trump acolyte. To allege that he spread misinformation, Speaker Nancy Pelosi obstructed him from the Jan.6 committee. Democrats have compared his treatment of Trump probes to his actions during Benghazi.
Democrats view Jordan’s comments at CPAC this year, where he stated that GOP investigations would “frame up 2024” and that Republicans would “need to ensure that Trump wins” another term, as a sign of his plans for running the committee.
Jim had a variety of roles. He was the point man for right-wing poison. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D.Va.), said that Jim was a cheap underminer of prominent Democrats and character assassin. He is running next year to lead Democrats on The Oversight Committee.
Connolly said, “Those are his skills sets that he would contribute to whatever the status is of the Republicans in the new Congress.” “But legislating and working across the aisle are not among those skills.”
There will be many chances for them to clash again. Jordan is expected to lead Republicans in some of the most divisive investigations of the next Congress, including a broad review of the Justice Department’s and FBI’s investigation of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. This could be paired with a bid for funding to reduce DOJ and FBI funding.
Bishop predicted that Jordan would seek to make “serious changes” to both agencies, and even look at “structural changes” to the FBI.
GOP leaders have given Jordan a leading role in possible impeachments next Congress. This is a road that’s full of potholes. After two Trump impeachments and a flurry of GOP colleagues, Democrats are ready to condemn Jordan’s actions as revenge politics and overreach.
Jordan and his committee already have Alejandro Mayorkas, Homeland Security Secretary, as a potential impeachment target. Jordan stated that Judiciary Republicans have already begun discussions about Mayorkas’ handling at the southern border. The Democrats, however, are preemptively denying the idea and arguing that it’s unprecedented and doesn’t show the GOP is serious about immigration.
It is important to note that Jordan and McCarthy remain in good standing despite the fact that the midterms are still three weeks away. This relationship has been credited with helping bring the conference’s sometimes-fractious right side closer to the fold. They are both actively involved in future strategy and coordination with Oversight chair-in–waiting Rep. James Coer (R.Ky.).
Rep. Mike Johnson (R.La.) said, “They’ll have a positive influence on the entire conference.” A member of the House leadership, he sits on Judiciary panel. I think Kevin respects Jim’s voice as well as the respect he gets from his colleagues. He’ll be very careful about what he thinks and says.
Jordan thanked McCarthy for “giving opportunities” to Freedom Caucus members, and engaging “more of the spectrum” at the conference. He predicted that “you will see more of that” next time.
This doesn’t mean everyone is convinced. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R. Fla.) used a football analogy to describe the possibility that McCarthy will officially outrank Jordan next season as “watching Tom Brady sit at the bench while Drew Bledsoe manages the offense.”
Rep. Andy Biggs (R.Ariz.), who was a Freedom Caucus chair in the past, pointed out that the dynamics that influence Jordan’s relationship with his leaders will be different in the majority. McCarthy will have to negotiate a conference that attempts to divide government with the Biden administration.
Biggs stated, “I believe that it is easier to be conservative when you are in the minority than when you are in the majority.” “We’ll need to wait and see what the future holds.”
Olivia Beavers, Caitlin Emma and Caitlin Emma contributed their expertise to this report.