WASHINGTON — Hard-right Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said Thursday that he's running to become House speaker next year, a long-shot bid underscoring conservatives' frustration that party leaders haven't aggressively pushed President Donald Trump's agenda.
Jordan, 54, is a founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has roughly 30 members among the chamber's current 236 Republicans.
House Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the second-ranking leader now, is viewed as the favorite to succeed retiring Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. The No. 3 GOP leader, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., who is close to many conservatives, also is seen as potential contender.
Seeming to cloud Jordan's race is a chapter from his coaching past at Ohio State that has resurfaced. The six-term congressman was interviewed recently by lawyers investigating allegations a now-dead team doctor sexually abused male athletes decades ago. Jordan has denied claims from some of the wrestlers that he knew of the abuse.
His candidacy appears to be aimed at rallying fellow conservatives and giving them leverage when the party picks its leadership team for the next Congress, perhaps influencing the speakership race or positioning Jordan for another top job.
Many other GOP lawmakers frequently bristle at his caucus, which they consider too inflexible and dogmatic.
Ryan is retiring when the current Congress adjourns in January. Republicans will lose House control next year if Democrats gain 23 additional seats in this November's elections, an outcome that is considered quite possible.
Jordan has been a leading actor in the GOP's assault on special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and that effort's ties to Trump's campaign. In recent days, he's been among a handful of conservatives seeking to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller's work.
In a two-page letter to colleagues declaring his candidacy, Jordan wrote, "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 complained that Republicans have to "stop caving so quickly" to Democrats in fights over the budget and other issues. He said that in a recent battle over spending, "We simply forfeited and did what the swamp always does: We gave more money to everything."