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Jim Jordan’s speaker dreams hanging by a thread

Ohio congressman Jim Jordan‘s hopes of gaining enough votes to become House speaker after the GOP’s nominated candidate Steve Scalise dropped out of the process already appear doomed.

On Thursday night, House Majority Leader Scalise pulled out of the race to become the new House speaker after it became apparent that he would not garner enough support from his own party to get the 217 overall votes needed for election.

Scalise beat Jordan to become the Republican nomination to replace Kevin McCarthy as House speaker in a 113-99 secret ballot at the GOP Conference on Wednesday.

Following behind-closed-doors meetings, a number of GOP lawmakers said they will not be supporting Scalise for the House speaker despite getting the nomination. However, Jordan, who was endorsed for the position by former President Donald Trump, is also unlikely to get the party fully behind him, with a number of House Republicans saying that they will not back the MAGA congressman if he gets back in the race.

The lack of any clear Republican candidate for House speaker means the current chaos surrounding the voting process has no end in sight, leaving the lower chamber essentially in limbo. Due to the GOP’s narrow 221-212 majority in the House of Representatives, any Republican vying for the House speaker role would need the support of almost all Republican lawmakers in order to achieve the 217 votes required in a full House ballot to be elected speaker.

Following Scalise dropping out of the running, some House Republicans are already saying they will not back Jordan if he puts himself forward again. The chairman of the House Freedom Caucus was already likely to struggle to get the support of more moderate Republicans.

Jordan’s office has been contacted for comment via email.

Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri replied “HELL NO” in a text message when asked by NBC News if she will now be supporting Jordan for House Speaker.

Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia confirmed in Thursday’s GOP conference meeting that he would not support Jordan.

Florida congressman Carlos Gimenez said he has not changed his mind about wanting McCarthy to return as House speaker. “It didn’t change my mind about how I’m going to vote,” Gimenez told reporters when about not switching his allegiance to Scalise or Jordan. “But it was good and constructive. I think there’s differences of opinion.”

California Rep. Mike Garcia is one of those who said they would support Jordan for House speaker, but admitted the Ohio congressman has a “math problem” with regards to getting enough votes.

“The problem is I think there’s enough people who see what’s happened in the last 48 hours to not support him that we’re going to have the same problem with Jordan that we had with Scalise,” Garcia said.

When asked by NBC if there are five “Never Jordan” votes—the number of votes any candidate cannot afford to lose on the Republican side if all Democrats back House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries as expected—New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis replied: “There’s probably five ‘Never Everybodys’—that’s the problem.”

Jordan himself had urged the GOP to get behind Scalise after he won the nomination for the House speaker role. Jordan said he has not made a decision as to whether he will put himself forward as a candidate again.

“When I decided to run before, I waited until the next day after Kevin [McCarthy] made his decision. I thought that was appropriate. I will do the same thing right now. I’ll wait,” Jordan told reporters on Thursday night.

One potential route out of the current deadlock is granting Speaker Pro Tem Patrick McHenry, who was elected by McCarthy as a temporary replacement until the House Speaker position is filled, expanded powers to move legislation and allow the lower chamber to govern.

Rep. María Elvira Salazar wrote in a letter signed by members of the moderate Republican Governance Group that the GOP should “walk and chew gum” by allowing McHenry to “reopen business” while they seek a permanent solution.

McHenry could yet try to get the GOP to support his becoming House speaker permanently. The North Carolina congressman told reporters it is “up to the will of the conference” when asked if he would run for speaker.

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