If Rep. Paul Ryan doesn’t run for House speaker, it could cause a free-for-all as about a dozen members maybe considering jumping into the race. If that happens, the outcome could be totally unpredictable as the candidates vie for the 218 votes needed to be elected.
On Monday, the head of the an influential conservative House caucus said he’d run for speaker as long as Ryan, the popular Wisconsin Republican, doesn’t.
Rep. Bill Flores of Texas who chairs the Republican Study Committee, circulated a letter to his House GOP colleagues declaring he would run — but he included that important caveat.
“Congressman Flores is planning to run for speaker. However, if Congressman Paul Ryan runs, he will step aside and support him,” said Andre Castro, an aide to the congressman, who said Flores’ email would be released later Monday.
If Ryan stays out, it could open the door to a long list of Republicans who are either weighing bids or are being pushed to run by other members. They include Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon and others.
Currently the only two Republicans to announce they are running are Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida. Like Flores, Chaffetz has said he would drop out if Ryan gets in.
Ryan is at his home in Janesville, Wisconsin, this week with his family reluctantly weighing a possible run. He is seen by many of his colleagues as someone who can bridge the gap between mainstream conservatives in the House and the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative group that pressed for the ouster of House Speaker John Boehner and put up roadblocks to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s effort to replace him.
A spokesman for Ryan tweeted Monday that “nothing has changed” in Ryan’s decision-making process and “I don’t expect any news this week.”
Last week, Flores told reporters he was “praying and consulting” over whether to run for speaker. But he said then that “Paul Ryan would be the dream speaker.”
The Republican Study Committee is a powerful voice for conservatives in the House. It has more than 170 members, meaning more than half of all House Republicans belong. The group was founded in 1973 to “bring like-minded House members together to promote a strong, principled legislative agenda that will limit government, strengthen our national defense, boost America’s economy, preserve traditional values and balance our budget,” according its website.