Ryan pressed to take speakership, Conaway mulls race

By Philip Brasher

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2015 - House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan was under heavy pressure from colleagues to run for speaker as Republicans prepared to break for a weeklong recess with no other obvious option. 

His fellow Republicans said that Ryan, R-Wis., would likely be a consensus choice, although publicly he continued to rule it out. "Chairman Ryan appreciates the support he's getting from his colleagues but is still not running for speaker,” spokesman Brendan Buck said. 

Nevertheless, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who stunned the GOP caucus on Thursday by dropping out of the race of the speakership, said Friday that Ryan “is looking at it, but it's his decision.”

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Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, who is close to the current GOP leadership, said Ryan was the “blindingly obvious” choice for speaker and predicted he would ultimately agree to run. “My instinct is he'll rise to the occasion. … We need him. It's just that simple. He's as close to the indispensable man as there is,” Cole said. 

House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, is among several other Republicans who are considering the post. “I'm having some conversations,” he said. He declined to comment further. 

McCarthy was the frontrunner for the speakership until announcing that he was dropping out of the race and staying on in his current post

The House is scheduled to vote on a new speaker Oct. 29, but McCarthy's decision has left the GOP caucus in turmoil. 

At a meeting of Republicans Friday morning, the outgoing speaker, John Boehner, said he would stay on in the job until there is a replacement. Ryan is widely seen as the one member who could unify the caucus amid the demands being made by many conservatives for the GOP leadership to take a harder line with President Obama and Senate leaders. 


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Ryan didn't speak during the GOP meeting, lawmakers said. Ryan, who has three children at home, has been telling colleagues that he had to have the support of his family before he would run for speaker, said Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif.

“He has his priorities right,” said Valadao, who made clear he wants to see Ryan run. “He's well spoken. He's done a good job, and he's one of the few who can unify us right now.” 

Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said Ryan would have the “overwhelming support” of the caucus. 

“Paul is a very bright, talented fellow who does things in a very methodical fashion and we'll see if he decides that trying to put this jigsaw puzzle back together is what he wants to do,” said Lucas. 

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., said of Ryan, “Everybody trusts him.”

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