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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)

The Punchbowl News interview: Jim Jordan

We sat down with House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan of Ohio and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise Friday — before the major Hamas incursion into Israel.

Jordan has the most public endorsements in this race, although he’s not near clinching the nomination. Jordan has also locked down the vast majority of the Ohio GOP delegation. Scalise is trailing behind him in locking down Louisianans.

Let’s get into the substance.

Quite notably, Jordan told us during a lengthy interview in his office he doesn’t want to go to the floor to vote for the speaker until 217 Republicans decide on who they support. Furthermore, Jordan wants a decision on how to handle the motion to vacate and the looming funding fight first. This is a tall task and we doubt either candidate will be able to lock it up before a speaker vote.

We reported Friday that Jordan wanted to change the motion-to-vacate rule — but only if he could do so with 217 GOP votes. Jordan and Scalise both said they don’t want to punish the eight lawmakers who voted against Kevin McCarthy — more about that in the Midday edition.

The basics of the race. In Jordan’s view, this election is about who can lead the conference, unite Republicans and communicate to “the country what we’re doing and why it’s important to them, to their family, to their community, their business.”

Jordan says he “never planned to do this” — meaning run for speaker — which is what Republicans like to hear. Republicans tend to be attracted to candidates who appear as if they’ve been dragged kicking and screaming to the speakership.

Can Jordan work with Democrats? Being a bomb thrower is one thing — and Jordan definitely has that reputation. But can he operate in a city dominated by a Democratic Senate and President Joe Biden?

Jordan was referring to the Fiscal Responsibility Act deal cut in May between Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a one-time Jordan target turned ally. Support from McCarthy’s backers is key for Jordan to win this showdown with Scalise.

Jordan said he has a good relationship with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. They aren’t close but have spoken, he said — for what that’s worth. Jordan is working with some progressives — including Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) — on a rewrite of FISA.

Government funding. Jordan has a very clear view on government funding. The Ohio Republican said he wants to use the threat of the 1% across-the-board spending cut to get the Biden administration to negotiate on border security. And Jordan has one demand that seems non-negotiable:

And when Jordan says that, he means it. Jordan has no flexibility on issues like this.

Ukraine. It’s safe to say that the Biden administration is in big trouble when it comes to getting more money for Ukraine. Jordan and Scalise are both incredibly skeptical of sending additional military or economic aid to Kyiv, which would be a stunning development in the 19-month-old war.

Fundraising. Jordan told us that he is prepared to take on the heavy lift of raising tens of millions of dollars for House Republicans in 2024. “Every quarter, leadership is asking me to sign surrogate copy for grassroots mailing. Steve [Scalise] has asked me every quarter and I do it every quarter,” Jordan said.

— Jake Sherman and Mica Soellner

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.