Rep. Jim Jordan: The Man in the Middle of the GOP Fissure

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Politico flags another sign of the fissures within the House GOP: Republican Study Commission member Tom Rooney, a two-term congressman from Florida, has written a letter blasting Jim Jordan, the group’s chairman and a voluble critic of the Boehner debt bill, just days after an RSC staffer was nabbed sending emails that urged conservative advocacy groups to target Republicans who backed the Speaker.

The RSC emails, which triggered a noisy clash during a Wednesday morning conference meeting, underlined internecine battles flaring within the party as it struggles to get on the same page. In his own missive, Rooney said whipping against Speaker Boehner “serve[s] only to showcase the¬†intolerant, short-sighted perspective we believe has become pervasive within the RSC and its staff.” And this from an RSC member.

At the center of the hubbub has been Jordan, a former college wrestling champion and three-term representative from Ohio known for uncompromising conservative stances. He has been the sharpest thorn in Boehner’s side, openly admitting that he would not back the Speaker’s bill and appearing regularly on television to urge the Senate to reconsider the shelved “Cut, Cap and Balance” legislation that Jordan championed.

More than anyone else, Jordan seems inextricably wedded to a bill that has not only been long dead, but which was never alive to begin with outside of Tea Party movement fantasies. And his position has made him the figurehead for the Tea Party uprising that thwarted the passage of Boehner’s bill Thursday night and forced House Republican leaders to retrench, reconfigure the legislature and try again Friday, squandering a critical day in the process.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Boehner’s allies in the Buckeye State may be prepping to exact retribution. The paper reported on Thursday that Republicans involved in Ohio’s redistricting efforts were mulling eliminating Jordan’s district as payback for the congressman’s backbiting:

Jordan’s disloyalty to Boehner has put him in jeopardy of being zeroed out of a district.

“Jim Jordan’s boneheadedness has kind of informed everybody’s thinking,” said one of the sources, both of whom spoke only on condition of anonymity. “The easiest option for everybody has presented itself.”

Boehner shot down the report, calling his fellow Ohioan a “friend and ally” and adding that “the word retribution is not in my vocabulary.” Yet the kerfuffle has clearly angered other Republicans. The RSC — a 170-member-strong caucus that has long been an incubator of conservative policy and counts both arch-conservatives and more moderate members among its ranks — has been growing in influence as the Tea Party rises. But their leader’s public split with party bosses threatens to imperil the cause.

*This post originally misquoted Rooney’s letter.