The two GOP congressmen most likely to take his gavel are the two lawmakers directly under him in the pecking order, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
More than the President, though, the path to the Speakership for McCarthy, Scalise, or anyone else is going to have to run through the House Freedom Caucus.
"I've never run against Kevin and wouldn't run against Kevin".
Scalise, who was wounded in last year's Virginia baseball shooting, has said that he would like to lead the party was well, though has said he would not challenge McCarthy directly. 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.
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. McCarthy previously made a bid to become House Speaker. "He and I are good friends", Scalise said.
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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". Disconcertingly for the GOP, Trump's unpopularity and early Democratic momentum leave it unclear whether Ryan's replacement will be speaker or minority leader. After almost twenty years in the House, the speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father.
Scalise brushed aside reports that he's preparing a run for the job following Ryan's surprise retirement announcement Wednesday.
When restive Republicans drove Ohio Rep. John Boehner to step down as House speaker in October 2015, it was widely assumed that the Californian known for his well-honed political skills and pleasant nature would step into the role.
Cole and Republican Conference Vice Chairman Doug Collins of Georgia are both said to be making plays for top committee posts, but are not being ruled out for other jobs.
Scalise, 52, the House GOP vote counter and No. 3 leader, was first elected a decade ago and had little national name recognition until tragedy thrust him into headlines.