Minnesota GOP candidates won't commit to Ryan for Speaker

Minnesota GOP candidates won't commit to Ryan for Speaker
© Greg Nash

Four Republican congressional candidates in Minnesota refused to commit their support to Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDem: Ex-lawmaker tried to pin me to elevator door and kiss me Two months later: Puerto Rico doesn’t have power, education or economy running again On Capitol Hill, few name names on sexual harassment MORE (R-Wis.) when asked about him at a candidate forum.

In a video from the Minnesota State Fair, the four would not say whether they'd support Ryan if he runs for Speaker in the next Congress. 

The video was first reported on by The Washington Post.  

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Their answers suggest some GOP candidates may be reluctant to embrace Ryan as the GOP House struggles to pass legislation, and as President Trump calls into question the congressional leaders of his own party.

Ryan has also been a target for conservative media, which may be putting pressure on candidates to distance themselves from him.

"He might not even run for Speaker," said St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber, dodging the question.

Stauber is running unopposed in the GOP primary to take on Rep. Rick Nolan (D).

"When I'm in Congress, I'll let you know, because people can change their views, change their ways," Stauber said.

"I would prefer someone else," said Dave Hughes, a commercial pilot running in the GOP primary for the nomination to take on Rep. Collin Peterson (D). 

"I think he's going in the wrong direction," said state Rep. Tim Miller, asked about his feelings on Ryan.

Miller is also running for the GOP nomination in the race to take on Peterson.

“We’ve got to have leadership that ensures we do the will of the people,” he said. “Whoever that is, I’d support that.”

Businessman Jim Hagedorn, who is running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Tim Walz (D), who defeated him in 2014, also declined to commit to Ryan. 

“In the next Congress, we hopefully hold our majority, and there will be an election a week or two after that election,” he said. “We’ll see who runs for speaker. Until then, you have to be very cautious about what you do. A lot can happen in a year in a half.” 

Matt Prosch, who is also running for Peterson's seat, did commit to backing Ryan.

The candidates are running for three seats that are considered winnable for Republicans in 2018.

While Democrats took the three seats in 2016, they did so despite Trump winning the district vote in the presidential election.

Trump questioned Ryan's handling of debt ceiling negotiations last week. He's been even more critical this month of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill MORE (R-Ky.), who in the president's view failed to secure him a victory on ObamaCare repeal.

Democrats may have their own problems with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

Republicans have repeatedly tied Pelosi to Democratic House candidates, and this seemed to be a factor in the party's loss of a special election earlier this year in Georgia, though that district also had been held by Republicans for decades.

Correction: An initial version of this story incorrectly said the National Republican Campaign Committee had taken a side in the GOP primary for the district held by Walz.