WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber came under an avalanche of pressure Wednesday after he joined 21 other Republicans in rejecting the nomination of Rep. Jim Jordan for speaker of the House.
The phones in his Capitol Hill office began ringing off the hook shortly after the vote. Most callers were upset with Stauber’s decision, a receptionist said. He also said most calls came from out of state, not the northern Minnesota-based district Stauber represents in the U.S. House.
Another staffer politely told a caller that only messages from constituents would be forwarded to Stauber.
On the first vote for House speaker Tuesday, Stauber supported Jordan, a firebrand conservative and Freedom Caucus founder. That vote failed when 20 Republicans voted for other GOP lawmakers and Jordan, R-Ohio, could only afford to lose three of those votes because of his party’s narrow majority in the U.S. House.
So another vote was held Wednesday, and Jordan lost even more support — 22 House Republicans said they supported someone besides Jordan, including Stauber, who nominated Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. Westerman has supported Stauber’s efforts to increase mining opportunities in the Iron Range.
“The American people deserve a working Congress, and we need a Speaker in order to get back to work,” Stauber said in an emailed statement. “I respect Jim Jordan and the important work he has done on the Judiciary Committee. However, after the first vote yesterday, it became clear that he cannot unite our Conference.”
Reps. Brad Finstad, R-1st District, Tom Emmer, R-6th District, and Michelle Fischbach, R-7th District, have consistently voted in support of Jordan. Stauber, a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, is considered to be a little more moderate than his Minnesota GOP colleagues.
Republicans who have not supported Jordan have come under intense pressure from sources including national conservative organizations and FOX News host Sean Hannity, who called some of the GOP lawmakers “snowflakes” based on their responses to his outreach.
Some Jordan supporters have posted the phone numbers of holdouts, encouraging followers to flood the Capitol switchboard with calls demanding they back Jordan — or face the wrath of conservative voters in their primaries.
One of those targeted, Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, has consistently voted for Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, who like Jordan was unable to secure the support of 217 Republicans needed to become Speaker of the House.
“This was a vote of conscience and I stayed true to my principles,” Granger posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Intimidation and threats will not change my position.”
Others have also complained about the pressure Jordan and his allies placed upon them.
“(Jordan’s) tactics certainly didn’t work on me,” Rep. Carlos Giménez, R-Florida, said. “Actually, I became more cemented in my position. He should have left me to my own devices. Now by being threatened, by being pushed — I’m Hispanic. I’m a Cuban. You just don’t do that to us.”
Jordan declined to drop out of the speaker’s race and may hold another vote on his candidacy Thursday, but it’s not likely he’ll be able to persuade enough of the members who oppose him to change their minds. So he may also drop out of the race.
There are other Republicans waiting in the wings to try their luck at winning the 217 votes that are needed. They include Reps. Jodey Arrington of Texas and Mike Johnson of Louisiana.
Emmer is also considered a candidate for the job because he has a broad base of support among House Republicans, ranging from moderates to Freedom Caucus members. But it isn’t clear if Emmer wants to go through the trouble.