Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) was the frontrunner to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), but he’s withdrawn his candidacy following a series of poor interviews.
The most infamous of those was one politicizing the Benghazi attack by hinting that the special investigation committee formed by House Republicans was done so to diminish Democratic 2016 favorite Hillary Clinton‘s reputation.
The title of House speaker is now up for the taking, the only problem being that most GOP lawmakers in Congress don’t seem interested in the position.
So it’s now back to the drawing board as conservatives review the shortlist of candidates, the favorite among them being Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).
Ryan has insisted he isn’t interested in becoming the presiding officer of the United States House, though the nine-term representative and 2012 Mitt Romney running mate hinted to colleagues on Friday he is considering the job.
Whoever assumes the title will have much on his or her plate, as Congress will likely need to increase the debt ceiling, find a way to fund the government, and expand infrastructure spending, all issues few Republicans want to be associated with.
In addition, the next speaker could be forced to oversee sweeping federal online gambling legislation, especially if casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson finally gets his way in 2016.
Little to Speak Of
With no clear-cut favorite to replace Boehner unless Ryan enters the fray, an abundance of names have been tossed around, some possible, some less likely than pocket Aces.
Since the Constitution doesn’t require for Speaker of the House to be an elected member of Congress, various names have sprouted up, none more inconceivable than Mark Cuban. The outspoken owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and popular TV show Shark Tank personality tweeted, “Maybe I’ll run … Can I convince 200+ politicians to write me in?”
More probable candidates for the big chair that comes with a big gavel include Reps. Daniel Webster of Florida and Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the only two members of the GOP’s current 247 electoral that have officially said they’d take the position if bestowed.
Chaffetz introduced HR 707, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), in February. RAWA is Adelson’s darling piece of legislation as it would prohibit all forms of Internet gambling, a notion the Las Vegas Sands owner so desperately seeks.
When asked if Adelson was influencing him during RAWA’s origination, Chaffetz denied the rumors saying it “is not just about any one person,” but admitted he was glad to have his support.
Aye of Newt
Though the Founding Fathers didn’t mandate the speaker to be a publicly elected lawmaker, since the formation of the United States that condition has never been utilized.
Could 2015 be the year?
Newt Gingrich, the 58th speaker to preside over the House and a respected GOP mastermind, is reportedly interested in returning to Washington, DC. The former Georgia congressman said on Fox News on Thursday that if the representatives “called you up … obviously no citizen could ever turn down that kind of challenge.”
“This is why George Washington came out of retirement,” Gingrich said in relation to the first president. “Because there are moments you can’t avoid.”
Chaffetz, Webster, Gingrich, even Mark Cuban: the race, or slow saunter, to the Speaker of the House continues.