Several House conservatives on Thursday quickly lined up behind Rep. Jim Jordan in his bid to be the next House speaker, while others offered praise for the Ohio Republican but said there’s still a long way to go in the coming battle to replace outgoing Speaker Paul D. Ryan.
Mr. Jordan informed his colleagues Thursday that he intends to run for speaker should Republicans maintain control of the House after the fall elections.
Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of about three dozen hardline conservatives, said he “fully” supports Mr. Jordan for speaker.
“I applaud all of those who are willing to put themselves out there. Certainly, Jim’s one of my better friends in Congress, and I support his efforts and his leadership to do that,” said Mr. Meadows, North Carolina Republican.
Rep. Andy Biggs, another Freedom Caucus member, said he will do everything in his power to support Mr. Jordan’s candidacy.
“Jim Jordan is a courageous conservative who has always kept his promises,” said Mr. Biggs, Arizona Republican. “I believe that Jim Jordan would return to regular order and lead the House to execute our conservative objectives.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, said he encouraged Mr. Jordan to throw his hat in the ring.
“Jim Jordan’s a fighter, and to get the Trump agenda into law, I think we need a fighter in the speaker’s chair,” Mr. Gaetz said.
Rep. Scott Perry, another fellow Freedom Caucus member, praised Mr. Jordan but said the retiring Mr. Ryan is still the speaker for now.
“If there’s going to be a race I’ll make my decision then, but Jim Jordan’s a friend,” said Mr. Perry, Pennsylvania Republican. “He’s a great guy. He’s a great leader, and we’ll make the final analysis once there’s a race announced.”
Rep. Mark Walker, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, a larger caucus of House conservatives, said the GOP first needs to maintain their House majority if there are plans to have a Republican speaker in the next Congress.
“We’ll make that decision, I guess, in a few weeks,” said Mr. Walker, North Carolina Republican. “I know that’s going to be a big issue when we get back.”
In a letter to his colleagues Thursday, Mr. Jordan said he plans to run for speaker to bring “real change” to Congress, likewise saying that keeping control of the House must be “everyone’s top priority.”
“President Trump has taken bold action on behalf of the American people,” Mr. Jordan wrote. “Congress has not held up its end of the deal, but we can change that.”
Mr. Ryan has thrown his support behind House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to succeed him in the position.
Majority Whip Steve Scalise has also been mentioned as a potential contender, though he has said he will not directly challenge Mr. McCarthy for the position.
Mr. Jordan, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus, has won praise from conservatives more recently for pressing the Department of Justice to deliver documents to Congress related to DOJ actions during the 2016 election.
He and Mr. Meadows led a group of House conservatives this week in moving to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein over the complaints.
Mr. Jordan has also come under fire in recent weeks after several of his former wrestlers at Ohio State University have come forward to say the congressman didn’t do enough to confront alleged sexual abuse by a team doctor that occurred during his time.
He has denied knowing about the abuse, and Mr. Meadows said the matter should be a non-factor moving forward.
“At the end of the day, Jim Jordan and the character that he has represented in this body and has historically represented - [that] will serve him well,” he said.