House Republicans are heaping pressure on Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to become their next Speaker after the strong favorite for the position stunned Washington by exiting the race.
Now that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has bowed out, as the next Speaker of the House, a growing number of House Republicans are pushing for Ways and Means chairman Rep. Ryan (R-WI) as the only person capable of uniting a GOP conference that has been badly fractured for years.
The push to draft Ryan is coming from the top. McCarthy told National Review that he wanted Ryan to run the House, and the Washington Post has reported that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called on the Wisconsin Republican to be his replacement.
Anywhere on Capitol Hill that there was a camera someone was talking about what has become a “Draft Paul Ryan for Speaker,” campaign.
“Paul Ryan is the only eligible candidate,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a frequent critic of the House’s conservative wing who had backed McCarthy for Speaker.
The support for Ryan cuts across conservatives and ultra conservatives, such as Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who some wanted to see make a run for the Speakership, are also backing a Ryan bid. Thursday afternoon, Ryan was seen on the House floor chatting with Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a vocal conservative, and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a conservative favorite who himself has declined leadership runs in the past.
Meanwhile, Ryan has steadfastly insisted he has no interest in the Speaker’s job. He made that clear within minutes of Boehner announcing his resignation last month, and he has not shifted from that position since.
On top of that, it’s far from certain that the House Freedom Caucus, the group of roughly 40 conservatives who opposed Boehner and McCarthy, would fall in line behind a Ryan candidacy.
Speaking on MSNBC this morning Mulvaney was clear that he has great respect for Ryan but he wanted to have extensive conversations with the Congressman from Wisconsin before he would give him his support. At this point Mulvaney made it clear that at least for now Daniel Webster (R- FL) remains their choice for leader.
Despite the love that Ryan is getting for him becoming Speaker, one of the most difficult jobs in Washington would complicate any ambitions that Ryan would have in the future. Clearly he has aspirations for winning the White House one day, but taking on the Speaker’s role is a no win situation for him.
He also likes spending time with his young family and being Speaker of the House takes a great deal of time and that is a deal breaker at least for now.
He may be willing to take the role under a 14 month deal to get the GOP through presidential elections and then he would step aside. Meanwhile, if the GOP can’t find someone to take the job they could see Boehner stay on till the elections are over for if nothing else stability.