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How Jim Jordan went from 'legislative terrorist' to inside operator

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Jim Jordan was working out in the House gym in late November 2018 when Kevin McCarthy called him with a peace offering in the wake of their battle for the GOP conference's top job.

The Ohio lawmaker coveted the senior spot on the House Oversight Committee, a powerful new perch that would offer him a bigger megaphone and a chance to wage daily battle with Democrats. But McCarthy’s offer came with a caveat: Jordan would have to shed his past willingness to drive a wedge within the conference, the type of behavior that prompted former Speaker John Boehner to christen him a “legislative terrorist,” and become a team player.

It was a calculated risk for McCarthy, who had watched Jordan rise as a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, an arch-conservative group that made legislative life hell for McCarthy’s two predecessors in Republican leadership. That call, recounted by McCarthy and Jordan, illustrates the breadth of the mutual leap the duo took to consolidate their power as allies.

Now, as Jordan reaches new heights of popularity among his House GOP peers after Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred him from the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the moment stands out as a key inflection point in their relationship.

McCarthy told POLITICO that both men, not to mention the conference writ large, evolved to bring his relationship with Jordan to the current moment: "You adapt. If you don't adapt, you're not gonna get there," he said.

Lately, the onetime leadership rivals couldn’t be closer. The Ohioan is even rethinking the Freedom Caucus’ efforts to install former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) over McCarthy in 2015.

“We should have made McCarthy the speaker, versus Ryan,” Jordan said during a recent interview in his office. “Looking back, we should have done that because Kevin can make a decision and ... he’s done just a good job of bringing the entire team working together.”

That remarkable shift in the two men's dynamic, from rivals for minority leader to partners, explains a lot about why Republicans are oozing with confidence that they can retake the House next fall. Jordan said he expects his good relations with McCarthy to continue if the party retakes the majority and denied any interest in vying for a higher post himself at........

© Politico

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