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Scalise Says He Won't Run Against McCarthy For House Speaker

13 April 2018

When Paul Ryan announced yesterday that he was not seeking re-election to the House seat he's held since first being elected in 1998, he made it clear that he meant to stay on board as Speaker of the House through the end of the current term of Congress. The GOP members elected in November will choose the next speaker if the party retains a majority. If McCarthy were to opt out, or if his bid falls short for any reason, Scalise is the likeliest next man up.

"We don't need the drama or distraction", Representative Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania said in an interview.

When Paul Ryan announced on Wednesday that he would resign, he did so with the air of a benevolent father, assuring his brood that he would stick around until year's end.

"You have a lot of the Southern states who are looking to shift leadership back to that part of the country", said Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla. An aide at the House Republican Conference did not immediately respond to an inquiry on the leadership election's timing.

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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".

Sources inside the Trump White House tell The Daily Beast that their primary concern following Ryan's announcement was that more fellow House Republicans would follow him to the exits, enhancing the likelihood that Democrats gain control of the chamber. Freedom Caucus members have lambasted its passage.

Neither Scalise nor McCarthy would acknowledge a race for Ryan's job or definitively deny it. Scalise said it's not "time to talk about what titles people want", while McCarthy said, "There is no leadership election".

In 2014, Scalise was discovered to have addressed a white-supremacist group in 2002 founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

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Scalise previously told Politico he's interested in being speaker someday, and he is broadly popular among his colleagues.

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

He also dismissed talk that he would be the more conservative choice for Speaker. As things stand, McCarthy appears to be the favorite not only among the membership but also in the mind of perhaps the most important voice in the Republican Party, President Trump.

Scalise is viewed as more conservative than McCarthy. But McCarthy has worked to improve his relationship with conservatives, including trying to craft legislation cutting spending from the government budget enacted recently.

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To prevail, McCarthy, from Democratic-leaning California, will have to ensure sufficient support from conservative Freedom Caucus members who hold sway, and who can use their influence to extract concessions. Scalise didn't answer directly when asked if he's now supporting McCarthy.

Scalise Says He Won't Run Against McCarthy For House Speaker