House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers says she is open to supporting Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, for speaker — a significant admission given that Speaker Paul D. Ryan declared months ago that the entire GOP leadership team was united behind House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
McMorris Rodgers had not been asked at the time if Ryan was speaking for her but apparently he was not. The Washington Republican told the Inlander she’s open to supporting McCarthy or Jordan but she’s not committed to support either one yet.
“I have talked to Jim Jordan. I have talked with House Majority Leader [Kevin McCarthy],” she said. “I am staying open. I have not made a commitment for who I will be supporting for leadership. I really believe that it’s premature for us to be jockeying for leadership positions when we need to focus on our races.”
McMorris Rodgers, currently the No. 4 in leadership, wants to move up but has not yet announced what position she plans to seek. McMorris Rodgers is in a competitive re-election race against Democrat Lisa Brown. Nathan Gonzales with Inside Elections/Roll Call rates the contest as “Lean Republican.”
Ryan’s retirement has created a race for who will be the top Republican in the House starting in 2019, regardless of whether the GOP is in the majority.
McCarthy was not able to secure enough GOP votes in 2015 when he sought to replace John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, leading to Ryan’s ascent. Jordan has been dogged with questions about whether he ignored signs of sexual misconduct by a team doctor when he was a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.