McCarthy seen as favorite to succeed Boehner

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyGOP hopes dim on reclaiming House GOP hopes dim on reclaiming House Republicans raise concerns over House campaign arm leadership MORE (R-Calif.) is seen as the favorite to succeed Rep. John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTed Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump MORE (R-Ohio) as Speaker.

Several lawmakers are talking about McCarthy, the second-ranking House Republican, as the odds-on favorite in the wake of Boehner’s surprise decision to leave Congress at the end of October.

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“It’s important that our conference comes together behind, I assume, Kevin McCarthy,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. He called for his colleagues to move beyond intraparty strife and rally around McCarthy.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he wasn’t interested in Boehner’s job and that he assumed it was McCarthy’s for the taking.

Conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus have held informal talks about a leadership team that could include McCarthy as Speaker, with other conservatives below him.

“I think it would be good to have a leadership team that is diverse and represents the entire conference,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a frequent Boehner foe.

McCarthy himself called for a “healing” among House Republicans while declining to say whether he would mount a bid to replace Boehner.

“Now is the time for our conference to focus on healing and unifying to face the challenges ahead and always do what is best for the American people,” he said in a statement.

Asked by reporters about his plans Friday, McCarthy was circumspect. “I will announce whenever there is an announcement,” he said.

McCarthy has sought to move to the right to appease conservatives, most notably by announcing his opposition to the Export-Import Bank shortly after then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was defeated in a primary.

The move was widely seen as an effort to shore up McCarthy’s support with the right, and he was elected to replace Cantor as majority leader. It was the latest development in McCarthy’s quick ascent in GOP leadership; the Californian has only been in Congress since 2007.

But McCarthy’s path to the Speakership might not be that easy.

Rep. Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamBlue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try Illinois Dems offer bill to raise SALT deduction cap Illinois New Members 2019 MORE (R-Ill.), who lost to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) in the contest to McCarthy as majority whip last year, said he wants to see a more dramatic shake-up this time around.

“I am hopeful that during this season of change, House Republicans will focus on a plan to get us out of our dysfunctional state, and not just settle for a change in ranks,” he said in a statement.

Rep. Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingHas Congress lost the ability or the will to pass a unanimous bipartisan small business bill? Maxine Waters is the Wall Street sheriff the people deserve Ex-GOP congressman heads to investment bank MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and a conservative favorite, declined to say whether he would consider a run for Speaker.

Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) previously told The Hill that some members had urged him to run for speaker, before Boehner announced his resignation.

Asked about matters after Boehner’s announcement, Webster had kind words for the current speaker, and a cryptic message.

“Yesterday was the Pope’s day; today is Speaker Boehner’s day. Tomorrow is another day,” he said in a statement.

“As a former minority leader who became the first Republican Speaker of the House in Florida since Reconstruction, I know that leadership is not an easy task. It takes a lot of hard work, and for that, Speaker John Boehner should be commended.”

Still, it’s clear McCarthy is the favorite, especially if conservatives are happy to have him as Speaker and members from their ranks elsewhere on the leadership team.

Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) mounted a late challenge to McCarthy for Cantor’s spot in 2014 and told The Hill on Friday he was mulling another leadership run.

However, he did rule out one move: challenging McCarthy, or anyone else, for the Speakership.

Scott Wong contributed to this story.