Johnson did not respond to queries from other reporters Monday.
Just Friday, Johnson told The Times-Picayune and The Advocate that he had been considering throwing his hat in the ring, but instead was devoting himself to getting Jordan elected speaker. The two men are close, having traveled to visit sites in the Holy Land together with their wives.
The wording of Johnson’s statement last week, though, seemed to leave the door open, depending on how things were to go for Jordan. “I have decided at this time not to enter the race but to defer to one on my closest friends and brothers, Jim Jordan,” it said.
On Saturday, two national outlets reported that a source familiar with Johnson’s thinking said he would in fact run if Jordan couldn’t line up the votes. Johnson didn’t confirm the report, instead responding with another statement saying he was supporting Jordan. “I am doing all I can to help him become our next speaker,” Johnson said.
When Johnson’s name first began being floated as a possible compromise choice for speaker, Jordan’s nomination looked to be in deep trouble. But on Monday, various outlets reported that Jordan’s efforts to corral the restive caucus were paying off, and that a number of Republican House members who had initially said they wouldn’t vote for Jordan had changed their minds.
Johnson is vice chair of the House Republican Conference. He represents Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District based in northwest Louisiana.
Should House Judiciary Committee Chair Jordan become speaker, Johnson wants to replace him as chair of that committee, according to Punchbowl, an online news service, citing unnamed sources. The next ranking Republican is Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, who could also in line to be chair.
Judiciary is one of three committees investigating the possibility of impeaching President Joe Biden.
Johnson would not disclose prior to last week’s vote if he would back Jordan or fellow Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise for speaker. After the secret ballot, Johnson said he had backed Scalise.
After winning a majority of House Republicans to become speaker-designate, Scalise withdrew late Thursday. He needed about 100 more Republicans to support his bid to get to the 217-vote threshold needed to win in the full House. He wasn’t able to because a group of House Republicans, particularly those backing Jordan, said they would never vote for Scalise.
On Friday, Jordan won a 124-81 closed-door vote against Rep. Austin Scott, of Georgia, who announced at the last minute to provide a competitor to Jordan. House Republicans then held a second vote and without a competitor, 55 voted against Jordan. With 221 Republicans in the chamber, Jordan can only afford to lose the support of four House Republicans.
House Republicans are meeting Monday night and have scheduled a vote on Tuesday.