A day after GOP lawmakers were stunned by the withdrawal of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy from the race for Speaker, Republicans made no swift moves to fill that post, as members will go home for a ten day break no closer to a replacement for outgoing Speaker John Boehner.
“I don’t think there’s any date for an election, there’s nothing going on right now,” said Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) as he emerged from a closed door GOP meeting.
For many Republicans, the biggest question was whether Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) would enter the race; Ryan continued to downplay the idea, but was reportedly considering it.
“Right now it’s all revolving around Paul Ryan,” said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA). “He may be one of the very few who can unite the Republican caucus.”
“If Paul Ryan gets in, I will support him; I will get out of the race,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who is one of two announced candidates in the race.
The other candidate, Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL), said he thought Republicans would take a little time to figure out what’s next.
“It’s stalled right now,” Webster said as he was trailed by a mob of TV cameras and reporters. “So, we’ll see what happens.”
“I think there’s a lot of people who are in agreement, that we need to take some time and work through some issues,” said Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), a critic of Speaker Boehner’s time in power.
“I endorsed Webster and until Webster tells me he’s not running, I’m sticking with him,” Bridenstine said, not getting drawn into the debate of a possible candidacy by Paul Ryan.
The signals from Ryan remained negative about the idea of running for Speaker.
“Chairman Ryan appreciates the support he’s getting from his colleagues but is still not running for Speaker,” a spokesman emailed to reporters.
The drama leaves John Boehner in the job as Speaker for the time being; he told GOP lawmakers he would stay until a replacement has been elected.
“It looks like he’ll be here for a while, but I don’t think anybody knows for how long,” said his neighbor, Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio.
“We would like to get it wrapped up this month, but only time will tell,” Chabot told me.
GOP lawmakers say they fully expect a weekend of phone calls and texts from those looking to run for Speaker; they will return to Washington the week of October 19.