It's Ryan for speaker or chaos

Republicans left thier party conference yesterday morning with looks of "stunned silence," according to the Washington Post. The faction-torn party was trying to find a consensus candidate to put up for speaker of the House, and apparently, didn't even come close.

Former GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan sat on the sidelines and remained silent. Ryan is being urged to stand for speaker by many lawmakers from both the establishment and conservative factions, and would probably be a shoo in should he choose to run.

But Ryan is resisting the siren call of the leadership for a variety of reasons both personal and political. He's got a wife and three young children back in Janesville, WI, and likes his position as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. There's also the fact that the next speaker will be placed in a no win situation on the budget, the debt ceiling, and 2 or 3 other issues that will see Republicans at each other's throats through November, 2016.

But with even conservative challengers for the speakership saying they would step aside if Ryan runs, the inexorable logic that he is the only candidate who could bridge the gap between the factions - if only temporarily - could very well win out and force Ryan to take the job.

Lawmakers said they were hoping to coalesce around a candidate, but how quickly that happens continues to depend on Ryan’s next move.

Other Republicans floating their names for speaker mostly said they would stand down if Ryan entered the race, giving the 45-year-old lawmaker an almost unfettered path to claim the speaker’s gavel.

“He’s the consensus candidate at this point,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said after the meeting. “He’s both vetted and has the experience of chairing not one but two committees.”

Earlier Friday, Issa used two appearances on cable TV to announce he would consider running for the post. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he remains a candidate for speaker but also would support Ryan if he entered the race.

Ryan’s silence at the meeting was notable. “He’s very quiet when he needs to be,” Issa said.

Ryan has long resisted stepping into a House leadership role, with his wife and three school-age children living in Janesville, about 75 miles southwest of Milwaukee. But calls from across the Republican Party intensified in the hours after McCarthy dropped his bid, including from Boehner, who, in two separate conversations, encouraged Ryan to take the job.

“It’s a terrible responsibility when you’ve got a young family, but someone should say to Paul Ryan, the institution of the House needs your leadership. Sometimes the burden of leadership falls on you when you’re not seeking it,” said Richard Armey, the former House majority leader who founded FreedomWorks, one of the leading groups advancing tea party causes.

“If two weeks of upheaval brought us @RepPaulRyan as Speaker, well worth it,” tweeted Hugh Hewitt, the influential conservative talk show host.

McCarthy is also pushing Ryan to run and reiterated after Friday’s meeting that the Wisconsin Republican would “be an amazing speaker.” But he said Ryan will have to make up his own mind.

Ryan is not the ideal candidate for either side, as conservatives remember well his flirting with immigration reform and the establishment preferring someone more in the mold of Boehner or McCarthy. But it is likely that if the pressure being placed on Ryan forces him to accept a leadership role, both sides will swallow hard and vote for him in order to end the chaos.

Indeed, while there are several qualified conservatives running for speaker, none of them have the stature or following to command enough votes to win. Obviously, Boehner will not hold a vote until he's sure a Republican will replace him. As unpalatable as it might be for some on the right, Paul Ryan is the only candidate who could get the 218 votes necessary to be elected speaker of the House.



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