With Scalise out, all eyes on Jim Jordan in chaotic House speaker race

(WASHINGTON) — House Republicans will cast ballots in a candidate forum Friday afternoon with just one candidate: Rep. Jim Jordan. It’s the latest in a speakership battle riddled with chaos and uncertainty.

Jordan is working to get enough votes to secure the top spot after Rep. Steve Scalise backed out of the race Thursday night.

The candidate forum, which is slated to happen at 1 p.m. Friday, will show how many House Republicans support Jordan’s quest for the gavel before an official vote on the House floor. Some lawmakers have left town and are being called back to cast their votes. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy told ABC News that Jordan has his vote.

Just over a week after McCarthy was ousted from the speakership, Scalise — whom the conference nominated in a closed-door session Wednesday — officially backed out. Now, Jordan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has made his intentions to run for speaker known. He started working the phones Thursday night, calling members to ask for their support, multiple sources tell ABC News.

It’s the latest twist in a disorderly speaker contest.

House Majority Leader Scalise withdrew his name as a candidate to replace McCarthy after he didn’t appear to have the 217 votes needed to become speaker.

“There were people that told me they were fine with me three days ago who were moving the goalposts,” Scalise said Thursday night. “There were games being played, and I said, I’m not gonna be a part of it.”

Even after Scalise met with holdouts, it became clear he didn’t have the votes. Now, there are serious questions about whether any Republican can unite the party.

McCarthy insisted the conferences is not fractured, telling ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott Thursday night that “It’s 4% of the conference … it’s 4% of the conference and all the Democrats that want this chaos.”

In the Friday morning meeting, Republicans voted down a number of rule changes and proposals to break the speaker logjam behind closed doors.

So, what comes next?

All eyes are on Jordan, R-Ohio, who first challenged Scalise for the nomination. He backed out of the race when he lost the nomination and said he would vote for Scalise for speaker.

“Jim Jordan is the obvious choice for the conference. He’s the only man in the room that can rally 217 votes, and the best thing Republicans can do is get … behind him,” Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., said.

Republicans appear to be coalescing around Jordan, though it’s unclear if he has sufficient support under the current conference rules to seize the speaker’s gavel.

“I think I think Jim should be given a shot,” Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., said. “If he can get to 217, he should be given the opportunity to try to get there.”

But Jordan is a conservative firebrand who could face major challenges winning over the moderates. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Jordan early in the race for speaker, which could work both for and against his chances.

Some members said they haven’t committed to Jordan. Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said he hasn’t decided if he will support Jordan because he doesn’t want to reward bad behavior — expressing frustration with the Republican rebels that pushed the party to this point.

“We had a lot of members … [say] they’d only vote for Jim. That bothers a lot of us. It’s not really Jim’s fault. But it bothers because you reward bad behavior. And so we pretty much have to grapple with that,” Bacon said.

It’s unclear when a vote for speaker will be scheduled.

After two weeks of paralysis in the House, some members are growing frustrated.

“The problem has been consistently that we’ve allowed emotion to get in the way of logic and in a way of the necessity to actually govern,” Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., said. “I did not come here to to be emotional. I came here to govern. And the quicker we get past that, the better off we are.”

Sources say Jordan didn’t say much in a meeting with Republicans Thursday night, but when asked what the key will be for uniting the party, he paused and smiled.

“I think we’ll get there,” he said. “I think we’ll get there.”

ABC News’ John Parkinson, Jay O’Brien and Sarah Beth Hensley contributed to this report.

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