U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he is no longer running for Speaker of the House and instead is throwing his support behind Wisconsin Republican, Paul Ryan.
Chaffetz tweeted the news Tuesday night, saying Ryan was the “right person at the right time.”
I am out and supporting @RepPaulRyan for Speaker. Right person at the right time.
— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) October 20, 2015
Chaffetz, who formally announced his intentions to run for speaker on Oct. 4, said in a news conference that he preferred supporting Ryan from the very beginning. He closed by acknowledging that he may consider running for speaker in the future.
“In part, I was running because Paul Ryan wasn’t running,” Chaffetz said. “But now that he’s reconsidered and looking at it, I’m going to put all my support behind Paul Ryan.”
Ryan said in a statement he will run for speaker if Republicans in the House unite behind him and fulfill four requests that he has.
“First, we need to move from being an opposition party to a proposition party,” Ryan said. “Because we think the nation is on the wrong path, we have a duty to show the right one. Our next speaker needs to be a visionary one.”
He continued, “Second, we need to update our House rules so that everyone can be a more effective representative. This is, after all, the people’s house. But we need to do it as a team. And it needs to include fixes that ensure we don’t experience constant leadership challenges and crisis.”
“Third, we, as a conference, should unify now, and not after a divisive speaker election,” added Ryan.
“The last one is personal,” said Ryan. “I cannot and will not give up my family time. I may not be able to be on the road as much as previous speakers, but I pledge to make up for it with more time communicating our message.”
Under intense pressure to seek the post, the 45-year-old Ryan gave his colleagues until Friday to express their support. For many, the question will be whether he can win over the hardline House Freedom Caucus, which drove the current speaker, John Boehner, into announcing his resignation and scared off Boehner’s No. 2, Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy.
However, those same hardline conservatives met with Ryan Wednesday night and seem to be signaling that they would support his bid for the top job.
The decision to back Ryan by the House Freedom Caucus, a group of nearly 40 lawmakers that has risen in power and stature since its founding this year, came after the Ways and Means Committee chairman spent much of his day courting its support.
The group stopped short of an official endorsement, which would have required 80 percent support, but members said a “supermajority” of the caucus, meaning a majority of the leading party, would back a Ryan bid for speaker.
He still has to receive the backing of a few other factions of House Republicans, but that seems very likely to come on Thursday, a day before Mr. Ryan’s self-imposed deadline for bringing together the party behind him.
For anyone to be elected Speaker of the House, he or she needs to win a majority vote in the entire chamber. Since, in practice, the vote is always partisan, that means the winning candidate needs to get a huge supermajority of his or her caucus. For a Republican candidate this year, that is 218 out of 247 votes – 88 percent of the Republican votes.
The full House is expected to vote on the speakership on October 29.