Scalise on speaker race: I 'wouldn't run against Kevin' McCarthy

This time, McCarthy isn't revealing much about his potential aspirations to move up the leadership chain, downplaying the urgency to mount a campaign for Speaker.

"I was encouraged that Steve Scalise said this morning that he thinks that after the election that Kevin McCarthy ought to be the person to replace me", the Wisconsin Republican said. "From the conversations I've had, everybody wants our "A team" in place, our strongest team in place, so we have the strongest outcome going into the election cycle".

Republicans sought to downplay what Ryan's departure says about their party's chances of holding the House in 2018 amid rising Democratic enthusiasm.

"I think the reality of the situation is this is D.C. There are a lot of "Type A" personalities here", said Representative Tom Reed, a New York Republican.

But the concerns extend beyond 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and aren't just about the possibility of GOP lawmaker exodus that may soon transpire. Ryan weighing in on the choice wouldn't account for the will of any newly elected Republicans who'll take office after the November elections. But as House Majority Leader during Ryan's tenure, McCarthy has developed a close working relationship with Donald Trump, who calls him "my Kevin" and reportedly considered him to replace the late Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff.

A senior GOP House member predicted this about Ryan's future: "He will be gone by the end of July".

Ryan stated Wednesday and again on Thursday that he has a preference for who should succeed him when he steps down from the speakership in January.

This isnot because he'll struggle to raise money.

It's more about certainty and stability. "It's hard to predict this far out", Collins said.

Ryan said in his weekly press conference that he was glad Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said he would not oppose McCarthy should he run for the position. That's because most of the retiring Republicans tend to be more center-right members.

McCarthy, of California, and Scalise are both known to covet the top job, and both men are conservatives with substantial bases of support. But he was one of Trump's earliest and most loyal congressional supporters in the 2016 presidential race. Shrewdly, McCarthy has leaned all the way into this alliance, sort through bags of Starbursts to deliver to the president only the flavors he likes, not unlike a tired parent doing the little things to keep their toddler's screaming to a minimum. "Look, the people around the country that support Republicans for the House and Senate and ultimately for the White House, they know what's at stake".

Meadows said McCarthy has been "reaching out, trying to keep his promises to a number of members of the House Freedom Caucus that will serve him well in whatever race should he throw his hat in the ring". "It's an unstable situation, eight months of a lame-duck speaker?" For those reasons, resolving the leadership question before the elections would make a certain amount of sense. "I've been real clear for a long time".

  • Jon Douglas