Who Were the Anti-Jordan GOP ‘Squishes’?

News & Politics

While Mike Johnson is almost certainly an upgrade over Steve Scalise and Tom Emmer to replace Kevin McCarthy as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, many Republicans no doubt continue to lament how a handful of Republican “squishes” blocked conservative stalwart Jim Jordan from assuming the role. Jordan’s penchant for dressing down bureaucrats and members of the Biden administration has drawn the ire of Democrats and moderates alike.

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After McCarthy was ousted as speaker on October 3, Republicans nominated second-in-command Scalise to lead the chamber, but he withdrew as a candidate after a number of caucus members indicated they would not support him. Jim Jordan was subsequently selected as the GOP nominee for speaker on Friday, October 13, but as fate would have it, his attempt to wield the gavel was also doomed. A week later, after votes of the entire House on October 17, 18, and 20, Jordan was dumped as the nominee.

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While Democrats were united in supporting Hakeem Jeffries, Jordan was unable to muster more than 200 votes from his fellow Republicans. In fact, the number of those opposing his candidacy increased after the first and second rounds of voting.

As the votes came in, activists began calling the holdouts. A House staffer told Breitbart News “they are literally melting the phone lines.”

And for good reason. Jordan is one of the most conservative members of Congress and a staunch ally of President Trump, who endorsed him for speaker. Naturally, folks wanted to know what the problem was, and many undoubtedly told their representative they wouldn’t be getting their vote in the future.

While the swamp appears emboldened by their success in nixing the possibility of a Jordan speakership, the 25 Republicans who opposed him will have to answer to their constituents next year if they want to keep their seats, and this is certainly something they’ll try to sweep under the rug.

It’s going to take a big broom.

I previously profiled the three Texas holdouts, but now I’m providing a detailed look at each of the 25 Republicans who opposed Jordan, including:

I also highlight any statements they made regarding Jordan or the speaker fight.

Although there is some overlap, they can be categorized into five distinct groups:

  • Members serving their first term, nearly all of whom are members of the Problem Solvers Caucus

  • Members of the House Appropriations Committee

  • Members from swing districts

  • Members who initially voted for Jordan

  • Clowns, namely Colorado’s Ken Buck and Pennsylvania’s Mike Kelly

Members elected in 2022

John James (MI-10, Farmington Hills)

Cook PVI: R+3

2020 presidential election result: Trump +0.9%

Heritage Action lifetime score: 82%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: N/A

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: N/A

James is a West Point graduate and was the CEO for his family’s supply chain management company before being elected. In an interview with Detroit’s Justin Barclay, he explained he was opposing Jordan because he wouldn’t commit to preserving defense and infrastructure spending that benefited the Michigan economy. He implied his constituents don’t really understand the effects this spending can have on their community, and he said he “will not be intimidated.” Judging by the responses to his Twitter/X repost advertising the interview, most people weren’t buying that.

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Thomas Kean Jr. (NJ-7, Westfield)

Cook PVI: R+1

2020 presidential election result: Biden +3.6%

Heritage Action lifetime score: 82%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: N/A

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: N/A

The son of former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, Thomas Kean Jr. was a member of the New Jersey state legislature from 2001 to 2022, serving as the state Senate minority leader from 2008 until he left office. He actually backed Jordan in the first two votes, but he switched to voting for McCarthy when it became clear Jordan didn’t have the support to become speaker. While the House was without a speaker, Kean said “my number one priority has always been getting Congress moving again to do the work of the American people.”

Nicholas LaLota (NY-1, Amityville)

Cook PVI: R+3

2020 presidential election result: Biden +0.2%

Heritage Action lifetime score: 84%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: N/A

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: N/A

LaLota is a Navy veteran and a former legislative staffer, having served in a number of elected and appointed local government positions in Long Island. He issued a joint statement with fellow Long Island Republicans Anthony D’Esposito and Andrew Garbarino indicating they want the next speaker to push for removing the cap to the federal income tax deduction for state and local taxes, funding healthcare for 9/11 survivors, government-backed flood insurance, and “curb[ing] runaway federal spending in a responsible manner that averts any potential government shutdown.” In a separate statement, LaLota said “I will not succumb to threats.”

Anthony D’Esposito (NY-4, Island Park)

Cook PVI: D+5

2020 presidential election result: Biden +14.5%

Heritage Action lifetime score: 82%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: N/A

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: N/A

D’Esposito is a former NYPD detective and Hempstead City Council member. He issued the aforementioned joint statement with fellow Long Island Republicans Nicholas LaLota and Andrew Garbarino.

Michael Lawler (NY-17, Pearl River)

Cook PVI: D+3

2020 presidential election result: Biden +10.1%

Heritage Action lifetime score: 82%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: N/A

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: N/A

Lawler, 37, is a former state lawmaker and political consultant. According to his U.S. House of Representatives website, “Mike passed more bills than any other member of his conference, a testament to his bipartisan, pragmatic approach to government.” After the first vote with Jordan as the GOP nominee for speaker, Lawler posted on Twitter/X indicating he was annoyed with Rep. Matt Gaetz for fundraising off the opposition to Jordan by “RINO’s [who] are working with RADICAL DEMOCRATS like AOC, ILHAN OMAR and RASHIDA TLAIB to BLOCK JIM JORDAN from becoming SPEAKER!!”

Marcus Molinaro (NY-19, Red Hook)

Cook PVI: even

2020 presidential election result: Biden +4.6%

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Heritage Action lifetime score: 82%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: N/A

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: N/A

Molinaro is a former mayor, county executive, and state legislator. He was the youngest mayor in the United States when he was elected to that position at the age of 19 by the citizens of Tivoli, NY, in 1995. Like Kean, Molinaro backed Jordan on the first two votes for speaker but withdrew his support during the third round. After Jordan was no longer the nominee, Molinaro posted a portion of a poem by Charles Franklin Benvegar suggesting those who don’t play by the rules divide people and tear things down. Interestingly, he didn’t live in the district he represents at the time of his election, which is not required by the U.S. Constitution.

Lori Chavez-Deremer (OR-5, Happy Valley)

Cook PVI: D+2

2020 presidential election result: Biden +8.8%

Heritage Action lifetime score: 84%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: N/A

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: N/A

Chavez-Deremer is the former mayor of Happy Valley, OR. Like Molinaro, she was not a resident of the district she represents at the time of her election, and she apparently has no plans to move. Her U.S. House of Representatives website boasts she “is one of the first Latinas and is the first Republican woman elected to Congress from the state of Oregon.” Her October 17 post on Twitter/X indicated she believed Jordan and his allies “deployed . . . hardline tactics to deprive Scalise of the speakership.”

Jen Kiggans (VA-2, Virginia Beach)

Cook PVI: R+2

2020 presidential election result: Biden +1.8%

Heritage Action lifetime score: 82%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: N/A

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: N/A

Kiggans is a former Navy helicopter pilot and geriatric nurse practitioner. Representing a district with a large military community, she expressed concern that Jordan might use the threat of a government shutdown to push for cuts to defense spending, and she voiced her frustration that a “minority of the majority” was controlling the direction of the GOP conference.

Members of the Appropriations Committee

Steve Womack (AR-3, Rogers)

Cook PVI: R+15

2020 presidential election result: Trump +23.4%

Year elected: 2010

Heritage Action lifetime score: 66%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: no

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Womack is an Army National Guard veteran. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, he said he was disappointed Scalise didn’t get a vote on the House floor, and he characterized the speaker fight as “junior high stuff.”

John Rutherford (FL-5, Jacksonville)

Cook PVI: R+11

2020 presidential election result: Trump +15.7%

Year elected: 2016

Heritage Action lifetime score: 72%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: no

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Rutherford is a former sheriff. After the second vote with Jordan as the nominee for speaker, Rutherford stated that “The hardball tactics haven’t worked,” and he accused Jordan of “fiddling while the world is on fire.”

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Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-26, Miami)

Cook PVI: R+8

2020 presidential election result: Trump +18.3%

Year elected: 2002

Heritage Action lifetime score: 48%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: no

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: yes

Diaz-Balart is a former member of the Florida House and Senate. After Jordan was no longer the nominee for speaker, Diaz-Balart did an interview with a local TV station in which he discussed the speaker fight. He expressed his belief that Jordan and his allies exerted “pressure tactics” to get Scalise to drop out of the race for speaker, and he said “I will not be intimidated.”

Mike Simpson (ID-2, Idaho Falls)

Cook PVI: R+14

2020 presidential election result: Trump +23.0%

Year elected: 1998

Heritage Action lifetime score: 53%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: yes

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Simpson is a former dentist and city councilman, and he was the speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives from 1992 to 1998. In an October 18 post to Twitter/X, he expressed his ongoing support for Scalise, who has “repeatedly proven his leadership,” and he stated that “Intimidation and threatening tactics do not—and will not—work.”

Jake Ellzey (TX-6, Midlothian)

Cook PVI: R+15

2020 presidential election result: Trump +23.9%

Year elected: 2021

Heritage Action lifetime score: 89%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: no

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: N/A

According to his campaign Twitter/X profile, Ellzey is an “underemployed pilot.” He flew helicopters and fighter jets in the Navy, and he was a military contractor in Afghanistan after he retired from service. In an interview with a local talk radio host, Ellzey said he doesn’t think Jordan has the leadership qualifications to be speaker, and he accused Jordan of not following his own advice to Scalise, that is, to drop out of the race if he couldn’t get enough support.

Kay Granger (TX-12, Fort Worth)

Cook PVI: R+12

2020 presidential election result: Trump +18.1%

Year elected: 1996

Heritage Action lifetime score: 65%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: no

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Granger, 80, is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee. The former mayor of Fort Worth, she represents a district that is home to defense contractor Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. On October 18, Granger stated she was backing Scalise because he “is an honorable man,” and she insisted that “Intimidation and threats will not change my position.”

Tony Gonzales (TX-23, San Antonio)

Cook PVI: R+5

2020 presidential election result: Trump +7.3%

Year elected: 2020

Heritage Action lifetime score: 82%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: no

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: yes

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Gonzales is a retired Navy master chief petty officer, the highest enlisted rank in the service. He has a history of partnering with Democrats in Congress, but despite being censured by the Republican Party of Texas, he doesn’t appear inclined to change his ways. Earlier this year, he told a Texas news organization that he doesn’t “take sh*t from anybody.” Gonzales did not make any statements regarding his vote against Jordan, but he was a vocal advocate for Steve Scalise after McCarthy was ousted as speaker.

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Members from swing districts

Carlos Gimenez (FL-28, Miami)

Cook PVI: R+2

2020 presidential election result: Trump +6.3%

Year elected: 2020

Heritage Action lifetime score: 72%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: yes

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: yes

Born in Cuba, Gimenez is a former firefighter and city manager, and he was the mayor of Miami-Dade County from 2011 to 2020. After the second vote for speaker with Jordan as the nominee, he posted a statement of support for Mariannette Miller-Meeks, another Jordan holdout, saying the “credible death threats” she had received “must be universally condemned.”

Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-1, Ottumwa)

Cook PVI: R+3

2020 presidential election result: Trump +2.9%

Year elected: 2020

Heritage Action lifetime score: 85%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: yes

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Miller-Meeks is an Army veteran and practiced for many years as an ophthalmologist. She voted for Jordan in the first round with him as the nominee, but she switched to backing Granger after it became clear Jordan didn’t have enough support to get elected speaker. In an October 18 Twitter/X post, Miller-Meeks said she had received “credible death threats and a barrage of threatening calls,” insisting she would not acquiesce to a “bully.” A few days later, she told a crowd at an Iowa fundraiser, “If you think you can intimidate me, go . . . suck it up, buttercup!”

Don Bacon (NE-2, Omaha)

Cook PVI: even

2020 presidential election result: Biden +6.3% 

Year elected: 2018

Heritage Action lifetime score: 65%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: yes

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: yes

Bacon is a retired USAF brigadier general. In an October 20 interview with a local TV station, he complained that Jordan didn’t back Scalise when he was selected as the conference nominee for speaker, and he criticized Jordan for not supporting the continuing resolution McCarthy negotiated with Biden and Democrats to avoid a government shutdown. Bacon also told ABC News his wife had received threatening texts and phone calls over his refusal to back Jordan.

Andrew Garbarino (NY-2, Bayport)

Cook PVI: R+3

2020 presidential election result: Trump +1.5%

Year elected: 2020

Heritage Action lifetime score: 74%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: yes

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Before being elected to Congress, Garbarino was a lawyer at his father’s firm and a four-term member of the New York state legislature. He issued the aforementioned joint statement with fellow Long Island Republicans Nicholas LaLota and Anthony D’Esposito.

Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1, Middletown Township)

Cook PVI: even

2020 presidential election result: Biden +4.6%

Year elected: 2016

Heritage Action lifetime score: 31%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: yes

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: yes

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Fitzpatrick is a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor. He backed Jordan during the first and second floor votes for speaker but withdrew his support during the third round. Prior to the first vote, he derided Rep. Matt Gaetz and the other Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy from the speakership as “extremists,” and he stated he was in favor of electing the “first Member of the Majority who can garner 218 votes.”

Members who initially voted for Jordan

Vern Buchanan (FL-16, Bradenton)

Cook PVI: R+7

2020 presidential election result: Trump +8.8%

Year elected: 2016

Heritage Action lifetime score: 61%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: no

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: no

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Buchanan is the vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy. The owner of several car dealerships, he previously served on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and he is the fourth-richest member of Congress, according to a 2021 Business Insider report. Before the first vote with Jordan as the nominee, Buchanan stated he would support him but expressed he was “deeply frustrated by the way this process has played out.” He abandoned Jordan in the second and third rounds.

Drew Ferguson (GA-3, The Rock)

Cook PVI: R+18

2020 presidential election result: Trump +30.1%

Year elected: 2016

Heritage Action lifetime score: 85%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: no

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

A former dentist and mayor, Ferguson is also a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Ferguson ditched Jordan after voting for him the first time he was the nominee for speaker, stating in a Twitter/X post that the House “does not need a bully as the Speaker.” He shared in the same post that his family had received death threats after he switched to backing Scalise.

Pete Stauber (MN-8, Hermantown)

Cook PVI: R+8

2020 presidential election result: Trump +11.2%

Year elected: 2018

Heritage Action lifetime score: 84%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: no

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Stauber is a former police officer, county commissioner, and city councilor. After backing Jordan during the first vote for speaker following McCarthy’s ouster, Stauber voted for Arkansas Rep. Bruce Westerman in the second and third rounds. After Jordan dropped out of the race for speaker, Stauber endorsed Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer for the post.

Clowns

Ken Buck (CO-4, Windsor)

Cook PVI: R+13

2020 presidential election result: Trump +18.5%

Year elected: 2016

Heritage Action lifetime score: 99%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: no

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: no

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Buck is a former district attorney and federal prosecutor, and he assisted future Vice President Dick Cheney with his congressional investigation of the Iran-Contra affair during the late 1980s. Despite his skepticism for claims the 2020 presidential election was flawed, his voting record indicates he’s a strong conservative, and he’s a member of the House Freedom Caucus, whose members nearly universally objected to certifying the electoral college votes of at least one state. However, Buck embarrassed himself when he joked to CNN’s Dana Bash that he was voting for Tom Emmer even though he didn’t want him to become speaker because “I don’t like Tom Emmer.” Hilariously, Buck is being evicted from his Colorado district office because his landlord, a major GOP donor, is upset with him for opposing Jordan.

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Mike Kelly (PA-16, Butler)

Cook PVI: R+13

2020 presidential election result: Trump +20.7%

Year elected: 2010

Heritage Action lifetime score: 70%

Supported Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023: yes

Supported Respect for Marriage Act of 2022: no

Supported American Dream and Promise Act of 2021: no

Kelly is a former city councilman and the owner of several car dealerships. Like Buchanan and Ferguson, he is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. In an October 20 Fox News interview given after Jordan was removed as the GOP nominee for speaker, Kelly expressed frustration that Scalise wasn’t given a vote by the entire House, and he said in a follow-up post on Twitter/X that “It’s time to unite.” Although he voted for Scalise on the first and third roll calls when Jordan was the nominee, Kelly voted for former U.S House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) during the second vote, which got some laughs from other members.

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