Republicans are taking steps to boost their chances at picking up retiring Rep. Bill OwensWilliam (Bill) Lewis OwensSteve Kroft bids farewell to '60 Minutes' after 30 seasons Steve Kroft to retire from '60 Minutes' after 30 years with show '60 Minutes' chief out at CBS amid harassment allegations MORE's (D-N.Y.) House seat by coalescing party support behind former Bush White House official Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikRepublican lawmakers ask Trump not to delay Pentagon cloud-computing contract Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker MORE.

Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Trump fans the flames of white grievance Ex-White House spokesman Raj Shah joins Fox Corporation as senior vice president Trump quietly rolled back programs to detect, combat weapons of mass destruction: report MORE (R-Wis.) tweeted out his endorsement of the candidate Tuesday night.


Stefanik directed debate preparation for Ryan, when he ran for vice president in 2012, but the tweet was as much a strategic choice as it was a favor for a friend.

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Stefanik is the establishment pick in the primary, where she faces Tea Party leader and retired Army Maj. Joseph Gilbert and activist Michael Ring. John James, the actor who played Jeff Colby on the television show “Dynasty,” is considering launching a bid as well, according to local reports.

But while Democrats are gleeful at the prospect of a messy Republican primary — the likes of which contributed to their loss when Owens first won the seat in 2009 — there are early indications Stefanik might have a broad base of support in the primary.

Ryan's endorsement will certainly endear her to conservatives, and she has plans to address a gathering of the New York Conservative Party later this month. And the party's executive director, Shaun Marie, had effusive praise for the Stefanik after Owens announced his retirement on Tuesday. 

“She’s a great candidate, absolutely great,” he told The Hill. “If I lived in the district, I would absolutely cast a vote for her.”