Speculation builds about possible Scalise bid for House Speaker job

Speculation builds about possible Scalise bid for House Speaker job

Ryan said Wednesday he wants to "run through the tape" and complete his speakership, but lawmakers fret that it could leave the party hobbled going into the November elections, where Republicans are already confronting a potential Democratic wave.

If Democrats prevail in the November elections, the job opening will be for minority leader, a much less powerful position. It was unclear what if any efforts were quietly underway to deny that support to McCarthy, but Scalise's remarks clearly left himself as the alternative.

And while Scalise has said in the past that he wouldn't challenge McCarthy for the GOP's top spot, members were under the impression that Scalise may be reconsidering that stance now that Ryan's departure is assured.

"I've heard from none of the candidates, and all of the mentioned candidates are not just friends, they're close friends", said Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala.

Two House leaders aren't waiting. But his friendship with President Donald Trump - who has called him "my Kevin" - could help his standing among many Republicans who were previously unwilling to support him.

McCarthy remained in his post as whip, but has not given up his leadership ambitions.

As recently as this week, the Majority Leader's office was working with the White House on a proposed package of spending cuts, in an indication of the California Republican's influence and close ties within the Trump White House. Instead, Scalise warned, "We need to stay focused on getting our job done and keeping the majority, because if we lose focus of that, Nancy Pelosi will be speaker, and I think we know how devastating that would be for our country".

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"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. Scalise didn't answer directly when asked if he's now supporting McCarthy. He raised $8.75 million in the first quarter of this year and has done fundraisers for 40 GOP candidates, said a person familiar with his political operation.

"Scalise for speaker, he would be a good one", Kennedy said.

Neither man is known for rhetorical flourishes.

"Scalise has been struggling with an episode that almost ended his ascent within the leadership: In 2002, while serving as a state lawmaker, he attended a meeting of a white supremacist group in Louisiana and faced a firestorm when the episode was publicized in 2014".

That raised questions about his ability as a communicator, a key for party leaders.

Conservative groups have awarded Scalise modestly stronger voting ratings than McCarthy.

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".

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