Kevin McCarthy has a road to the House speaker's job

Kevin McCarthy has a road to the House speaker's job

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), just a day after announcing his retirement, appeared to signal support Thursday for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to succeed him.

"I was encouraged that Steve Scalise this morning said that he thinks that, you know, after the election that Kevin, Kevin McCarthy ought to be the person to replace me after the elections", Ryan said during his weekly press conference.

Noble as it is for Ryan not to run off, rank and file House Republicans likely will force his hand to step down much sooner than that, Axios reports.

McCarthy was favored for the position in 2015 when John Boehner retired, but ultimately withdrew as he was opposed by the House Freedom Caucus, a staunchly conservative group of about three dozen House Republicans.

Those close to Scalise say he is unlikely to directly challenge McCarthy.

Though the next months will likely see jockeying for position, both McCarthy and Scalise said Wednesday that they were not focusing on any potential leadership change, as Ryan was still speaker through the midterm elections. GOP operatives worry that more will follow his lead as polls show the party could lose control of the House in November.

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Scalise also took the chance to push back against supporters touting him as a more conservative candidate for Speaker, saying, "Well look, I don't make up titles, and you know, I've got a long record as a conservative who's fought to advance a more conservative agenda".

Some big donors, who have given millions to Ryan this cycle, may not want him to stay on as speaker if the entire party is taking on water.

And an hour after Ryan said he will retire from the Congress in January, Republican Congressman Dennis Ross of Florida also announced that he will not seek re-election. "And they are going to immediately start positioning as this situation develops". But others said the race could stretch until after the election clarifies the number, ideology and mood of House Republicans.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who heads the Freedom Caucus, said a candidate's willingness to listen to all lawmakers is "probably the top priority" for backing someone.

"My hope, and this has been my advice, is we need to focus", said Reed, a Ways and Means Committee member who says he has no designs on a leadership job. Ryan intends to weigh in. "I think nearly all of our members see it that way as well".

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