LIMA — The rhetoric in Washington has been nothing if not divisive the last two years. If an area representative has his way, he will be right in the middle of it going into 2020.
According to Robert Alexander, a political science professor at Ohio Northern University, the midterm election cycle which ended Tuesday has set up another two years of back-and-forth political maneuvering, and Ohio’s 4th Congressional District Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, could be at the center of it.
Due to Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives, Jordan has switched his bid for Speaker of the House and replaced it with a run for House minority leader.
While those that elected him in Ohio may relish the idea of Jordan leading House Republicans, it may be a more difficult sell to those in Washington, D.C. But it’s not impossible, Alexander said.
Many representatives holding to the center-right have been ousted by their Democratic challengers, and those conservatives that remain in their seats lean hard right — a position Jordan is comfortable with.
In other words, Jordan may be “abrasive” to some, but it may not matter if the Republicans that won on Tuesday make the decision to go all in with the political and rhetorical changes brought forward by President Donald Trump, Alexander said.
“In 2016, the American people elected Republicans to come here and change this town,” Jordan told The Hill Wednesday morning. “I think the president is doing just that, but I don’t think they see the same intensity from folks in Congress, folks in the House of Representatives.”
Typically, minority leaders lead the House opposition against the majority. While their responsibilities aren’t set in stone, they typically will help fellow House colleagues fundraise for campaigns and promote the objectives of the minority party.
The position could suit Jordan well, Alexander said, despite his fundraising shortcomings when compared to position frontrunner, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California. For example, Jordan already has experience limiting Congressional actions with the Freedom Caucus — even against his own party — and he’s also been a consistent thorn in the side of the Justice Department, which Jordan says has been overusing its authority to pursue the Russia investigation.
Historically, Congress has seen splits between the Senate and House before, and while they have served as stopgaps to legislative action in recent memory, Alexander said Democrats and Republicans could find common ground in the past. One of the more well-known legislative actions undertaken under such a scenario was the approval of NAFTA under President Bill Clinton.
When asked if the same could be repeated in 2019 and 2020, Alexander answered with a blunt “No.”
Instead, Alexander said the next two years will most likely be more divisive as both sides work to set up a political lead for the next presidential election.
Jordan said on the campaign trail that the midterm elections were all about Trump. Now that the election is over, not much has changed.
“Now that we’re in the minority, that’s about all we can do is debate, but fight hard in the debate for the principles, for the things that we know the American people sent us here to do in 2016,” Jordan said, “show them that we deserve to be back in power in 2020.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.