On Wednesday, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) announced he would not seek reelection, and would retire at the end of the year. GOP members in leadership positions are vying to replace him already.
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), are the clear frontrunners in this contact. Although neither of them have made a direct statement on the matter, McCarthy was in contention for the Speakership after John Boehner retired – and Scalise has long harbored ambitions to take the top spot in the House of Representatives.
“I know this town doesn’t let the bodies get cold before people start making announcements,” said the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.).
“We’ve got to have a Speaker. And this is politics. So people will start running,” stated Representative Roger Williams (R-Texas).
Ryan had announced that he will be retiring from the Congress on Wednesday, bringing his three-year job as a speaker to an end.
“Certainly, his leaving will create a real vacuum,” stated the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Representative Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). “There will be a de facto battle for Speaker, or minority leader, that will ensue over the coming weeks, not months.”
Both the candidates, McCarthy and Scalise have praised Ryan for his services in the Congress.
“Right now, we all need to be focused on getting our job done, getting our economy back on track, working with [President] Trump to continue on the progress we’ve made, and then make sure we hold the majority,” said Scalise in a statement. “Our members are still just digesting the fact that Paul made this dramatic announcement today.”
“Paul’s staying all the way through and we’ve got our work cut out for us to continue to work to keep the majority and a lot of legislation to get done,” added McCarthy.
Certain lawmakers have predicted that Trump may have the decision power in the end when electing the next speaker. Some have said that in the “Trump primary,” McCarthy has an edge, while on the other hand, Scalise has been termed as the “Legend of Louisiana.”
Scalise has been also praised by President Trump for surviving a fatal gun-shot that occurred last summer and for resuming work as soon as he got recovered.
Ryan has had his thoughts on who would win, however, he has not shared them with anyone as yet.
“I have great confidence in this leadership team,” he said. “That election is in November, so it’s not something we have to sweat right now.”
McCarthy has been spending considerable time with the members of Freedom Caucus and has also sent out birthday cards to some members.
“He’s been reaching out, trying to keep his promises to a number of members of the House Freedom Caucus. That will serve him well in whatever race, should he throw his hat into the ring,” said Meadows.
Representative Walter Jones (R-N.C.), a conservative member, is not in the favor of McCarthy becoming the next speaker.
“Steve would be a good person,” said Jones. “He will certainly be in the mix.”
“I think who the next Speaker will be, will certainly be decided before November,” stated Meadows. “Once that kind of gets settled on, whether it’s, in fact, a vote, which I doubt, or this is the heir apparent, then there will be a transition in terms of direction.”