Republicans express doubts that Ryan can stay on as Speaker

Speculation is growing on Capitol Hill that Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat Live results: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, Connecticut hold primaries MORE may need to relinquish his Speaker’s gavel soon, though few Republicans are publicly calling on him to resign.

More rank-and-file Republicans predicted Friday that the Wisconsin Republican probably won’t be able to hang on to the Speaker’s job for the rest of the year, despite Ryan’s insistence a day earlier that he would stick around until January and that no one in the GOP could raise more money ahead of the crucial midterm elections later this year.

“I think there's a lot of goodwill for Paul Ryan, but I don't know if there's so much goodwill that they'll let him stay as Speaker,” said longtime Rep. Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonLatina Leaders to Watch 2018 Unending Pruitt controversies leave Republicans frustrated Hillicon Valley: Judge rules Trump can't block Twitter users | ISIS content finds a home on Google Plus | Rubio rips ZTE demands as 'terrible deal' | Bill would protect kids' data MORE (R-Texas), the former Energy and Commerce Committee chairman who is retiring this year. “I think nobody would have a problem if he resigned the speakership and stayed in Congress to fulfill a commitment to his constituents in Wisconsin."

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“I just think the pressure is going to build for him to step aside as Speaker and then let the conference pick a new leadership team,” Barton added.

So far, few Republicans have been willing to go on the record and call for Ryan to step down, a move that would trigger new leadership elections now rather than after the Nov. 6 elections.

But conservative Rep. Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesHouse completes first half of 2019 spending bills House committee approves spending bill that would boost IRS funding House panel advances financial services spending bill MORE (R-Ga.), an ally of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyRepublicans have spent .5 million at Trump properties since he took office: report Trump ally suspends reelection campaign Dems seek GOP wipeout in California MORE (R-Calif.), has publicly pushed for a new leadership team to be installed now following Ryan’s announcement this week that he’s not running for reelection this fall.

Graves met with Ryan on Thursday about the matter, The Hill confirmed. “It was a positive conversation. Rep. Graves is confident Speaker Ryan will do what’s best for the conference,” said a Graves aide.

And centrist Rep. Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerSatellite images raise alarms about North Korean nukes Overnight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks ‘Stingray’ spying prompts fears about surveillance MORE (R-Ill.) told the Chicago Sun-Times it’d be better to hold those leadership elections “sooner than later.”

“It would be nice to kind of get this stuff done, because what you don’t want is about an eight-month process where people are running for Speaker because it’s very tough,” Kinzinger told the newspaper.

On Friday, a GOP lawmaker closely aligned with leadership told The Hill he, too, would like to see the succession question resolved now.

“There’s a strong sense of wanting to give Paul his breathing room and a chance to talk about his legacy,” said the GOP lawmaker. “But there is a growing sentiment in the conference that the election should be held sooner so that we don’t have a lame-duck Speaker heading into the midterms.”

It’s unclear, however, how many Republicans feel the same way. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Ryan swatted down questions of whether having an internal, seven-month-long race for Speaker would distract from GOP efforts to hold the House majority. And Ryan said that after holding numerous conversations with fellow Republicans, he had overwhelming support to remain Speaker until January.

“It makes no sense to take the biggest fundraiser off the field. And I think almost all of our members see it that way as well,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s office did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Among the many GOP lawmakers who’ve said Ryan should finish out his two-year term as Speaker were Reps. Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoDems eyeing smaller magic number for House majority GOP campaign arm withdraws support from NJ House candidate who made racist statements GOP runs into Trump tax law in New Jersey MORE (R-N.J.), Leonard LanceLeonard LanceDems eyeing smaller magic number for House majority Liberal group launches ads targeting Azar over child separations Lawmakers split over how to expand rural broadband MORE (R-N.J.), Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingWashington big names celebrate launch of Hill.TV The Hill's Morning Report — Trump denigrates NATO allies, floats 4 percent solution ‘Unmasking Antifa Act' includes 15-year prison term proposal MORE (R-N.Y.), Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesDems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia GOP rep refutes Trump's account of Sanford attacks: 'People were disgusted' Trump claims Sanford remarks booed by lawmakers were well-received MORE (R-N.C.), Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksLatino groups intervene in Alabama census lawsuit Alabama GOP congressman preps possible Senate bid against Doug Jones Loyalty to Donald Trump is new normal for the Republican Party MORE (R-Ala.), Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordTrump’s endorsements cement power but come with risks Trump: I ‘destroy' careers of Republicans who say bad things about me GOP lawmaker: Trump is 'robbing the piggy bank' with tariffs MORE (R-S.C.), Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresGOP leaders jockey for affection of House conservatives Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus House GOP leaders push immigration vote to next week MORE (R-Texas) and Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloDems eyeing smaller magic number for House majority House GOP starts summer break on a note of friction Overnight Energy: Proposed rule would roll back endangered species protections | House passes Interior, EPA spending | House votes to disavow carbon tax MORE (R-Pa.).

“I believe the Speaker is best-positioned to lead our conference for the rest of the session, policy-wise, and as the single best fundraiser in the history of the House Republican Conference,” Costello told The Hill. “A leadership contest in the interim is a distraction and could lead to unnecessary divisions.”

The race to replace Ryan had already been shaping up as a contest between McCarthy, Ryan’s top deputy, and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump ally suspends reelection campaign Trump’s endorsements cement power but come with risks Ryan removes indicted GOP lawmaker from House Energy and Commerce Committee MORE (R-La.), the No. 3 GOP leader, though neither has publicly declared a bid for Speaker.

Friday added a new wrinkle to the Speaker sweepstakes. Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanHouse GOP prepares to grill DOJ official linked to Steele dossier Republicans and Democrats alike face troubling signals from voters Ex-OSU wrestler walks back accusations against Jordan: I don’t know if he 'directly' knew about abuse MORE (R-Ohio), the former chairman of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, said that he was mulling over a bid for the top leadership post.

Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieRepublicans win elections by restoring faith of Americans Pelosi blasts Trump administration: Allowing 3D printed guns is a ‘death warrant’ Meadows leaves door open to impeachment vote on Rosenstein MORE (R-Ky.), a Jordan ally who is not a Freedom Caucus member, said there’s just no way impatient Republicans can wait eight months to figure out who should be the next leader of the 237-member GOP conference.

“This just seems like such an improbable proposition, that we would have a lame-duck Speaker for eight months,” Massie said. “I don’t know if the palace can sustain that much intrigue.”

“It seems improbable that you could have this kind of vacuum.”

Melanie Zanona and Juliegrace Brufke contributed.