The Jim Jordan seen in Congress is the one voters know in Ohio | ET REALITY


Six members of the Champaign County Preservation Alliance were touring the picturesque downtown of Urbana, the central Ohio city where Rep. Jim Jordan has made his mark as a state wrestling champion, aspiring politician and now a member of Congress.

As they watched his attempt to end the tortuous efforts to elect a new House speaker, the uncompromising figure he projects nationally is much like the one seen back home in the heavily contested Fourth Congressional District. manipulated and mostly Republican.

The district, which winds and winds through hundreds of miles of mostly small towns and farmland, is much whiter and slightly poorer, less educated and older than the state as a whole. In 2020, he went for Donald Trump by a margin of almost 36 percentage points.

Amanda McDaniel, a member of the Preservation Alliance, supports Jordan’s candidacy for speaker and sees in him the same principles that she holds.

“He shares the same conservative values ​​as I do,” McDaniel, a 60-year-old retiree, said Tuesday.

He said he was not concerned about the criticism of Mr. Jordan: his failure to pass any legislation in the House, as well as claims, which he denies, that he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse by a team doctor when he was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State.

Like other supporters, she is comfortable with the populist outsider Jordan has been since his days in the Ohio General Assembly some three decades ago.

It’s not a consensus-building approach (a previous Republican speaker called it a “legislative terrorist”), even as he has consistently turned it into a political success.

“I really hope he doesn’t become president,” said Katie Porter, 30, another alliance member, who called him too divisive. Porter added that she disagreed with Jordan’s tough opposition to abortion and believed he now spends too much time in Washington, where she helped establish the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus.

Jordan embraced right-wing populism long before the Tea Party or Donald Trump became a national force. In the early 2000s, Jordan drew grimaces from Republican leaders in the legislature for opposing a sales tax increase that even party stalwarts agreed was necessary to close a budget gap. But when budget problems led the state in 2003 to close the Lima Correctional Facility, a state prison in Mr. Jordan’s state Senate district, he criticized the resulting job losses, not to mention that he had voted against the state budget that would have kept the prison open.

“Jim wasn’t known for building consensus and passing legislation,” said Derrick Seaver, who inherited Jordan’s seat in the Ohio House of Representatives when Jordan ascended to the state Senate in 2000. “He wasn’t known as a collaborator. He was going to push his belief system, first and foremost.”

At Urbana Brewing Company on Tuesday, customers approved of Mr. Jordan. Eric Forson, 50, said that when he wrote to his elected representatives during the 2013 government shutdown, Jordan was the only one who responded.

“He met me in a coffee shop in the city and we talked. I thought it was really nice,” Mr. Forson said.

Most people in Urbana have a Jim Jordan story, and it often suggests that he is not as strident in person as he is in public. “If you interact with him in person, it’s not like on TV,” said Missy Esch, a 55-year-old retiree.

Ms. Esch and her husband, Mike, 57, were hopeful that Jordan would get the votes needed to take over as speaker on Wednesday.

Not everyone was cheering for Mr. Jordan. Thomas Simmonds, 75, was waiting to get a haircut Wednesday at Fresh and Faded, a barbershop that serves a mostly black clientele in downtown Lima.

He criticized Jordan’s lack of action on crime, housing, drug addiction and unemployment.

“If legislation is never passed, nothing will ever be done,” Simmonds said.

In the small town of Sidney, located on the banks of the Great Miami River, a group of women who call themselves The Knit Wits meet weekly at a local coffee shop to knit and visit. Politics is something they tend to avoid, but not this week.

Jean Napier, 73, is no fan of Jordan and hopes he will stop seeking the speaker’s job.

He said the area’s strong Republican lean allows Jordan to bypass Democrats who have needs. “If you’re a Democrat here, you’re nobody,” he said.

Others in the group, like 83-year-old Rose Goins, hope Jordan will continue the fight. She doesn’t care about the controversial side of her. “We need someone to start throwing flames,” she said.

Meanwhile, the group’s matriarch, Carol Icenagel, 87, finds herself on the political fence. She says that sometimes she has voted for Mr. Jordan and sometimes she hasn’t. She is not optimistic about any politician, including Mr. Jordan.

“The whole group just needs to act together. Why do they worry about everything? Mrs. Icenagel said before returning to knitting.

It’s a common refrain.

“If not him, who else?” Mike Esch said in Urbana. “They need to elect someone. As an American, this is shameful.”

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