Members of U.S. House GOP describe threats sparked by votes against Jim Jordan for speaker ⋆
WASHINGTON — Nebraska GOP Rep. Don Bacon said his wife slept with a gun for protection after she received threatening phone calls demanding that her husband support Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan’s bid for U.S. House speaker.
Bacon was among a handful of members who reported threats and the targeting of family members after opposing the conservative hardliner’s bid for the speaker’s gavel.
“I didn’t sleep well last night. I called her and I go, ‘How you doing?’ and she said, ‘I slept really good, I had a loaded gun,’” he said Thursday after leaving a Republican conference meeting.
“It was ugly phone calls,” said Bacon, a member of the House Armed Services Committee who served in the U.S. Air Force for nearly 30 years, retiring as a Brigadier General.
Jordan, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, failed twice to garner enough floor votes to reach the gavel. Twenty opposed him Tuesday. By Wednesday that gap grew to 22.
Jordan and his allies employed an aggressive campaign over recent days that included Fox News personality Sean Hannity and conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck stumping for him on air and ridiculing critics.
Threats disclosed by members
As Republicans met Thursday behind closed doors in an attempt to recalibrate after 16 days without a speaker, several aired grievances about the Jordan camp’s tactics.
Virginia Rep. Jen Kiggans, who voted against Jordan on the second ballot after supporting him during the first floor vote, told reporters following the closed-door meeting that many lawmakers brought up the threats and intimidation.
“We all share the same conservative values and principles,” Kiggans said. “So to get those threats and to be intimidated by members of our own party was really frustrating, especially for people like me.”
Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who voted for Jordan on the first ballot but opposed him on the second ballot, said Wednesday in a written statement that she’d received “credible death threats and a barrage of threatening calls.”
“One thing I cannot stomach, or support is a bully,” Miller-Meeks said.
“Someone who threatens another with bodily harm or tries to suppress differing opinions undermines opportunity for unity and regard for freedom of speech,” Miller-Meeks said. “I did not stand for bullies before I voted for Chairwoman Granger and when I voted for Speaker designee Jordan, and I will not bend to bullies now.” Rep. Kay Granger is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Georgia Rep. Drew Ferguson, who supported Jordan on the first floor vote but not the second, said in a written statement that he had “genuine concerns about the threatening tactics and pressure campaigns Jordan and his allies were using to leverage members for their votes.”
“I discussed this directly with Jim, and planned to support him on the second ballot,” Ferguson wrote. “When the pressure campaigns and attacks on fellow members ramped up, it became clear to me that the House Republican Conference does not need a bully as the Speaker.”
After voting against Jordan on the floor on Wednesday, Ferguson wrote that he and his family “started receiving death threats.”
“That is simply unacceptable, unforgivable and will never be tolerated,” Ferguson added.
Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, who opposed Jordan on both floor votes, wrote on X on Wednesday that “intimidation and threatening tactics do not — and will not — work.”
“Steve Scalise earned my vote for Speaker in the last two rounds,” Simpson wrote. “He has repeatedly proven his leadership as our conference’s Majority Leader, and I am honored to support him.”
Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart of Florida said the “nanosecond” that outside pressure tactics begin “it’s over” for him.
“If you look at the folks that are getting these threats: Don Bacon, retired general of the United States Armed Forces, you know, I don’t know how anybody can think that folks like that can be pressured,” Díaz-Balart said.
Jordan stays in the race
Uncertainty loomed over the Republican conference Thursday.
GOP House members met privately for several hours to try to find a path forward from an essentially frozen lower chamber.
A short-lived proposal to temporarily expand the powers of Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry of North Carolina fizzled out by day’s end.
Jordan remained in the race, but when a next vote would occur remained unclear late Thursday.
Some members, including Jordan supporter Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida, said they think the next step for the conference is to “hash this out.”
“There has been encouragement from all sides of conference, every walk of life, every faction that is represented in there, that at the end of the day, if we can’t agree on anything, we can agree on one thing and that’s the 22 (who oppose Jordan) have to get in a room and talk to Jim,” she said.
authored by Ashley Murray
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