WASHINGTON — Hard-right Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio says he’s running to become House speaker next year.
Jordan is a founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has roughly 30 members.
His candidacy is seen as a long-shot but underscores hard-right dissatisfaction with GOP leaders. House Speaker Paul Ryan is retiring.
Jordan wrote to fellow Republicans that the party has disappointed voters by “caving so quickly” to Democrats. He says President Donald Trump has taken “bold action” but Congress hasn’t fulfilled “its end of the deal.”
Shelby County Commissioner Julie Ehemann said the announcement was “interesting news.”
“In our area the Congressman remains very popular even after the allegations made against him,” said Ehemann. ”I do believe his very conservative views will make it an uphill climb for him to be voted as speaker.”
Commissioner Bob Guillozet shared his thoughts on the announcement.
“I think it would be great to have a local voice as speaker of the House of Representatives,” said Guillozet. “Jim Jordan is familiar with not just Shelby County but our entire area and our way of life. Congressman Jordan has been a very conservative voice for all Ohioans for a long time and I wish him well in this endeavor!”
Shelby County Republican Party Executive Chairman Aaron Heilers also commented on the announcement.
“Jim Jordan has represented Shelby County since 1998 in the Statehouse and since 2006 as our U.S. Congressman,” said Heilers. “Rep. Jordan has consistently served the citizens of Shelby County with honor and integrity and truly represents our conservative values. Rep.Jordan has always been committed to his constituents and we are committed to support him in his bid for Speaker of the House.”
The announcement comes on the heels of his motion on Wednesday evening to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Jordan and the other Republicans who introduced the resolution have criticized Rosenstein and Justice Department officials for not being responsive enough as House committees have requested documents related to the beginning of the Russia investigation and a closed investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails.
In the letter to his colleagues on Thursday morning, Jordan wrote, “Should the American people entrust us with the majority again in the 116th Congress, our clear mandate will be to continue working with President Trump to keep the promises we made, to stand up for the rule of law and the Constitution, and to put the interests of the people before those of the swamp. I want to help keep us on this track and shape bold, visionary policy that will improve the lives of the people we have the honor to represent.
“President Trump has taken bold action on behalf of the American people. Congress has not held up its end of the deal, but we can change that,” Jordan added in the letter.
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House, is retiring from Congress. Speculation has swirled recently about who will succeed him in the leadership role if Republicans retain control of the House of Representatives after the 2018 November election.
In his letter to colleagues, Jordan lamented hearing “the same old talk” and advocated “changing the way this place operates” after Congress returns from its August recess. That recess began Thursday afternoon and continues for five weeks.
Jordan also advocated House power being “decentralized” and proposed that committee assignments be made on talent, merit and experience.
“And with nine new committee chairs to be decided next year, it’s time for a complete shakeup of the process for selecting committee chairs. Rank-and-file members know who has the skills to get the best policies enacted and conduct rigorous oversight,” Jordan stated.
“For us to have a chance to make these changes, though, we must keep control of the House. I am committed to doing everything I can to make that happen. That goal must be everyone’s top priority,” he added. “After that, we can focus on filling the vacancy resulting from Speaker Ryan’s retirement from Congress.”
Jordan is facing a challenge in November from Oberlin Democrat Janet Garrett. This is her third attempt to unseat Jordan in a general election.
“For months now, I’ve been driving around the district hearing people’s concerns about the struggles they face every day,” Garrett said in a prepared statement after Jordan’s announcement. “One thing is abundantly clear: Washington is broken, and people think their representatives are totally disconnected from their everyday challenges. The voters will have to decide whether Jim Jordan is part of the problem or part of the solution. For my part, I’m going to stand up to attacks on women’s health care, fight for workers’ rights, and help families afford the health care they need while reaching across the aisle to bring people together and solve our problems.”
Jordan is rebounding publicly from accusations earlier this month that he knew about allegations of sexual misconduct against a doctor at Ohio State University while Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach for the Buckeyes. The misconduct by Dr. Richard Strauss, now deceased, is alleged to have occurred from the mid-1970s to the late-1990s. Jordan’s coaching job overlapped with a portion of that time period, 1986-1994, when Strauss served at Ohio State. Jordan has repeatedly and vehemently denied any knowledge of the alleged “abuse” that is now part of an independent investigation on behalf of Ohio State and he is reportedly cooperating with investigators.
Former wrestlers have filed two federal lawsuits against Ohio State alleging that it ignored concerns raised about sexual abuse by Strauss. The lawsuits were brought by a total of five former wrestlers who allege they were victims of sexual misconduct by Strauss. According to published media reports earlier this month, Jordan has been named in one of the lawsuits for “failing to prevent sexual abuse perpetrated by a university doctor.”
Both lawsuits seek unspecified monetary damages and propose to represent all Ohio State students mistreated by Strauss.
Ohio State has said the university response to concerns about Strauss is a key focus of the independent investigation.