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Jordan and Scalise

Scalise’s Louisiana problem

It’s clear that neither House Majority Leader Steve Scalise nor House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has a path to 217 votes at the moment. But in concerning news for Scalise, the Louisiana Republican can’t even lock down his home delegation.

Of Louisiana’s House Republican contingent, only Rep. Julia Letlow has backed Scalise. It’s a marked difference from Jordan’s stranglehold over Ohio Republicans, where he has the backing of every member except Rep. Brad Wenstrup — who’s supporting Scalise — and Rep. David Joyce, who hasn’t endorsed anyone. That’s seven GOP votes for Jordan.

Two Louisiana Republicans — Reps. Mike Johnson and Clay Higgins — told us they’re in a tough position because they’re close with both Scalise and Jordan.

“Jim and Steve are both like brothers to me,” Johnson said. “So I’ve told them I’m really struggling.”

“They’re both dear friends and I think that the country and the world is in a better place once the Republican Conference unites behind one of those men,” Higgins said.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), a close ally of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, declined to comment repeatedly to us when we asked who he was backing in the speaker race.

We asked Letlow if she was surprised to be the only Louisiana Republican that’s backed Scalise.

“I can only speak for myself,” Letlow replied.

Of course, the three outstanding GOP votes in Louisiana are unlikely to swing the speaker vote. And Scalise does enjoy broad support across the GOP and is expected to earn more votes than Jordan in a conference-wide vote.

But it’s plainly less than ideal to fail to secure the backing of your fellow delegation members.

Scalise’s strength in House Republican leadership elections has traditionally been regional. His base of support has been the South. So it’s even more notable that Scalise has failed to lock up his own home state.

— Max Cohen and John Bresnahan

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