“I know it sounds conditional because it is.” Paul Ryan made this comment about his run for Speaker of the House of Representatives. He has felt the mounting pressure to seek out the nomination. However, he has a few provisos before he could possibly announce his bid.
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, served in the House of Representatives for sixteen years. He was also chosen by Mitt Romney to be his running mate in the last election cycle. Notably, he will not run without the support of the far-right groups; the Freedom Caucus, the Republican Study Committee, and the centrist Tuesday Group.
Since Speaker, John Boehner (R-OH), abruptly resigned in September, the race for his replacement has defied any prediction. The most likely contender, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), dropped out of the race almost immediately. The only other willing challengers were relative newcomers; Jason Chaffetz (R-NV), who heads the House Oversight Committee, and the Freedom Caucus’ own, Daniel Webster (R-FL).
However, Chaffetz has lost support because the handling of the Planned Parenthood hearings. Webster lacks broad establishment support because he leans to the extreme right. Both had such little backing that House Republicans suggested nominating a Speaker outside of the House, which would be Constitutional but unprecedented.
So, given his conditions, how likely is Ryan to run? It is clearly possible that Ryan is serious about his decision for Speaker of the House.
The Freedom Caucus was widely blamed, by Washington analysts, for Speaker Boehner’s resignation. All Republicans and 36 Representatives are members of the Freedom Caucus. Men account for 35 members and the other 26 were elected into the House since 2010. Many used to consider themselves Tea Party members, but they keep some ideological differences with mainstream Republicans.
The Freedom Caucus’ disagreements with Democrats go deeper, as they tend to oppose compromise and bipartisan action on principle. This may be a problem for whoever sits as Speaker. The new Speaker will need support from both sides of the aisle. Whether the Caucus will be the sticking point for the nomination, however, is unclear. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), a spokesman for the Caucus, said that he did not think it would be an “impossible task” for Ryan to win them over.
The Republican Study Committee (RSC), is so-called because they can be skeptical of Republican leadership. They see themselves as a watchdog group, which monitors its party’s ethics from within. Similar to the Freedom Caucus, they are more conservative than the average Republican, and they generally mistrust compromise. However, the RSC is much larger, with 172 members, including Ryan. These Republicans are longer-serving and have broader support than the Caucus members. They have yet to comment on the race for Speaker, but they are believed to back Ryan.
The Tuesday Group, founded in the mid-nineties, in order to counterbalance the large number of conservative Republicans in the House. Republicans feared their party would be taken in a direction that would lead them to become impulsive. The Tuesday Group has fifty members, which is significantly smaller than the RSC, and they are not as vocal as the Freedom Caucus, therefore, it is unclear why Ryan considers them vital unless he wants their support, as a good-faith gesture to moderates. However, whether he will gain their support is not certain.
The leadership from all three groups will be expected to comment by Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. It is possible that than Ryan will announce his run for Speaker of the House.
Written by Corinne Enright
Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License