Prospective speakers multiply in House as all wait on Ryan

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What Are the Odds Paul Ryan Ends Up in Speaker's Chair?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Every day another Republican lawmaker seems to wake up and decide that he — and in at least one case, she — might make a pretty good speaker of the House.

The profusion of potential candidates, now approaching double digits, is happening even with all attention focused on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the former GOP vice presidential nominee widely seen as the best person for the job.

Ryan, who has made clear he does not want to be speaker, is home in Janesville, Wisconsin, thinking it over anyway under pressure from top party leaders. And with Congress out of session for a weeklong recess, Capitol Hill has fallen quiet after a series of wild days during which Speaker John Boehner shocked the House by announcing his planned resignation, and Boehner's heir apparent, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, abruptly took himself out of the running.

Take a look back at Boehner's time as speaker:

John Boehner during his time as speaker
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Prospective speakers multiply in House as all wait on Ryan
FILE - In this July 29,2015 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. According to GOP lawmakers, Boehner to step down end of October. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio becomes emotional as Pope Francis appears on the Speaker's Balcony on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 and waves to the waiting crowd. The pope addressed a joint meeting of Congress before stepping out on the balcony. Between the pope and Boehner is Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) (R) speaks with Pope Francis (L) in the U.S. Capitol building before the Pontiff speaks to a joint meeting of Congress September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis will be the first Pope to ever address a joint meeting of Congress. The Pope is on a six-day trip to the U.S., with stops in Washington, New York City and Philadelphia. (Photo By Bill Clark-PoolGetty Images)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 29, 2015. An effort by a conservative Republican to strip Boehner of his position as the top House leader is largely symbolic, but is a sign of discontent among the more conservative wing of the House GOP. On Tuesday, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who was disciplined earlier this year by House leadership, filed a resolution to vacate the chair, an initial procedural step.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
FILE - In this June 28, 2015 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, to talk about the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act. Having lost their latest war against President Barack Obamaâs health care overhaul, Republicans must decide how to wage battles that could fan the issue for the 2016 elections. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) arrives for his weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol on March 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. Boehner answered questions on the Republican budget, Hillary Clinton's emails, and other topics during the press conference. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, kisses House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, in the Rose Garden of the White House before President Barack Obama's remarks to members of Congress, Tuesday, April 21, 2015 in Washington. Obama thanked those who supported H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 to improve the affordability and quality of health care for the youngest and oldest in the nation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listens during a news conference following a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. Boehner said he's waiting for the Senate to act on legislation to fund the Homeland Security Department ahead of Friday's midnight deadline. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio responds to reporters about the impasse over passing the Homeland Security budget because of Republican efforts to block President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. The House voted last month to end Homeland Security funding on Saturday unless Obama reverses his order to protect millions of immigrants from possible deportation. After Democratic filibusters blocked the bill in the Senate, the chamber's Republican leaders agreed this week to offer a "clean" funding measure, with no immigration strings attached. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio casts multiple shadows as he leaves the Rayburn Room on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, after presiding over ceremonial re-enactments of the House swearing-in ceremony. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, kisses House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif. after being re-elected to a third term during the opening session of the 114th Congress, as Republicans assume full control for the first time in eight years, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais )
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to the House chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 31, 2014, for final votes as Congress rushes for the doors and a five-week summer recess. The institutional split of a Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate has added up to inaction, especially in a midterm election year with control of the Senate at stake. Lawmakers have struggled to compromise on a handful of bills to deal with the nation's pressing problems amid overwhelming partisanship. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio waits to speak on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, following a Republican strategy session after returning from a five-week recess. Boehner said Islamic State militants are a serious threat that must be dealt with in Iraq, Syria or wherever they exist and insisted that no decision would be made on a congressional vote until President Barack Obama lays out his strategy to defeat the militants. Boehner and other congressional leaders are heading to the White House this afternoon for a meeting with Obama. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio tickles John Griffin III, son of Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., outside his office, after a House vote, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner said Thursday he will give President Barack Obama a proposal temporarily extending the government's ability to borrow money and averting a potential default _ but only if he agrees to negotiate over ending a partial government shutdown and a longer-term increase in the debt ceiling. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, center, joined by fellow Republicans, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, following a closed-door GOP meeting, to announce that House Republicans will advance legislation to temporarily extend the government's ability to borrow money to meet its financial obligations. From left are, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, Boehner, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif., Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kansas. The federal government remains partially shut down for a 10th day and faces a first-ever default between Oct. 17 and the end of the month. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks to a House Republican Conference meeting to discuss the ongoing budget fight, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Republican unity showed unmistakable signs of fraying Monday as Democrats and the White House vowed to reject tea party-driven demands to delay the nation's health care overhaul as the price for averting a partial government shutdown at midnight. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, after a closed-door strategy session. Pressure is building on fractious Republicans over legislation to prevent a partial government shutdown, as the Democratic-led Senate is expected to strip a tea party-backed plan to defund the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as "Obamacare," from their bill. Boehner originally preferred a plan to deliver to President Obama a stopgap funding bill without the provision to eliminate the health care law. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, leaves after a three hour photo session with members of the new 113th Congress that convened on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Barack Obama gestures while giving his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio listen at rear. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, are on the first green as they play golf at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Saturday, June 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Following a meeting with President Barack Obama today, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, accompanied by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks about the budget, Tuesday, April 5, 2011, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., walk out to speak to reporters after their meeting at the White House in Washington with President Obama regarding the budget and possible government shutdown, Wednesday, April 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
House Speaker-designate John Boehner of Ohio wipes away tears as he waits to receive the gavel from outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. during the first session of the 112th Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio celebrates the GOP's victory that changes the balance of power in Congress and will likely elevate him to speaker of the House, during an election night gathering hosted by the National Republican Congressional Committee at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The stunning developments left a leadership vacuum at the pinnacle of Congress. Now into it are stepping a growing number of Republican lawmakers from around the country, some relative newcomers, others with experience to point to, united by a chance to lunge at the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become speaker of the U.S. House, second-in-line to the presidency.

Why any of them would want a job that defeated the current occupant and scared off his No. 2 is another question. The daunting rift between establishment-minded lawmakers and the hard-line conservatives who pushed Boehner to the exits shows no sign of dissipating, and threatens to complicate life for whoever next occupies the speaker's chair. Congress also faces a series of formidable tasks over the next several months, including increasing the federal borrowing limit to avoid a default and paying the government's bills to stave off a shutdown.

Nevertheless, the wannabe speakers are multiplying.

"I am humbled to have my name mentioned as a potential candidate, and I am considering the pursuit of the speakership in response to those requests," Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, wrote in a letter to fellow House members Wednesday. "If we all spend enough time on our knees praying for each other, we can heal our divisions and truly work together to restore America to the 'Shining City on a Hill' that President Reagan challenged us to become."

Take a look back through previous House speakers:

House Speaker Timeline
See Gallery
Prospective speakers multiply in House as all wait on Ryan
Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg (1750-1801) Served As A Member Of The Continental Congress And The First Speaker Of The House Of Representatives. (Photo By Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG Via Getty Images)
Portrait of American politician and merchant Jonathan Trumbull (1710 - 1785), colonial governor of Connecticut, 1770s. (Photo by Stock Montage/Getty Images)
Engraving depicting Jonathan Dayton (1760-1824), American politician, USA, circa 1810. By Albert Rosenthal. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)
E2 NATHANIEL MACON Speaker of U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senator. Lived 1758-1837
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1843: Portrait of Henry Clay; the Great Compromiser. (Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
Engraved portrait of United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Philip Pendleton Barbour (1783 - 1841) as he wears a coat, vest, and cravat, mid 19th Century. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)
circa 1850: John Bell (1797-1869), American politician. Member, US House of Representatives, 1827-1841; Speaker of the House, 1834-1835; US Secretary of War, 1841; US Senate, 1847-1859. Original Artwork: Engraved by A H Ritchie (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
James K. Polk (1795-1849) 11th president of the United States. James Knox Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and Governor of Tennessee. Polk was the surprise candidate for president in 1844, defeating Henry Clay of the rival Whig Party by promising to invade and annex Texas. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Engraved portrait of Robert Charles Winthrop, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, with his signature, circa 1860. Engraved by A H Ritchie. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
Howell Cobb, Howell Cobb (1815-1868), Southern Congressman Who Supported The Union And The Compromise Of 1850 Regarding Slavery In The United States. (Photo By Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG Via Getty Images)
Full length portrait of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks (1816 - 1894), in full uniform, facing left, 1861. By Mathew Brady. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
circa 1865: James Lawrence Orr (1822-1873). American politician, South Carolina anti-secessionist in US Congress 1848-59, member, US Senate 1861, joined Confederacy, governor, South Carolina 1865-68, US ambassador to Russia 1872-73. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Galusha A. Grow - Brady-Handy.
This undated photograph shows Schuyler Colfax, 17th vice president of the United States under Ulysses Grant. (AP Photo)
Photogravure portrait of American politician US Secretary of State James G. Blaine (1830 - 1893), 1884.
Michael C. Kerr - Brady-Handy.
circa 1870: Samuel Jackson Randall (1828-1890). American politician. Member, common council of Philadelphia, PA 1852-55, member, Pennsylvania state senate 1858-59, member, US House of Representatives 1863-90, serving as Speaker of the US House of Representatives 1876-81. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Politician and major general during the Spanish-American War, Joseph Warren Keifer (1836 - 1932), circa 1885. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)
An engraved portrait of President Cleveland's Secretary of the Treasury John G Carlisle (1835-1910), circa 1880. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)
Thomas Brackett Reed, American politician, 1898. A Republican congressman from Maine, Reed twice served as Speaker of the House of Representatives, from 1889-1891 and again from 1895-1899. A print from Our Country in War and Relations with All Nations, by Murat Halstead, The United Subscription Book Publishers of America, 1898. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
An engraved portrait of Republican leader Joseph Gurney Cannon (1836-1926), circa 1890s. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)
1905: Wedding portrait of Nicholas Longworth (left) and Alice Roosevelt posing with the bride's father, U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt. The bride is wearing a white dress, white gloves, a veil, and a train. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
John Nance Garner, speaker of the House of Representatives and vice-presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket, is shown in 1932. The location is not known. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Sept. 16, 1941 file photo, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Sam Rayburn, D-Texas, lifts the House gavel as he takes over the duties of Speaker in Washington. A letter written to the only woman Rayburn ever married, offers an isolated peek into a nearly invisible aspect of one of the 20th century's most prominent American politicians. (AP Photo/File)
Portrait of John William McCormack (1891 - 1980), the 53rd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, 1963. Washington, D.C. (Photo by Bachrach/Getty Images)
circa 1985: American Democratic congressman from Massachusetts and Speaker of the House from 1976-1986, Thomas 'Tip' O'Neill, speaking and wearing a gray suit with a red tie. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
FILE - In this July 29, 2005, file photo, former House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas stands next to the Texas pillar while touring the World War II Memorial in Washington. Wright was initially denied a certificate to vote in Texas because he didnât have proper documentation under Texasâ Voter ID law, which will be enforced for the first time during Tuesdayâs election. (AP Photo/Yuri Gripas, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 24, 1997 file photo, former House Speaker Tom Foley testifies on Capitol Hill before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination to become ambassador to Japan. Foley has died at the age of 84, according to House Democratic aides on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Foley was a Washington state lawmaker who became the first speaker since the Civil War who failed to win re-election in his home district. He was U.S. ambassador to Japan for four years during the Clinton administration. But he spent the most time in the House, serving 30 years including more than five as speaker. (AP Photo/Joe Marquette, file)
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks at the Third Annual Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala, Thursday, May 28, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
FILE - In this June 9, 2015 file photo, former House Speaker Dennis Hastert departs the federal courthouse, in Chicago for his arraignment on federal charges that he broke federal banking laws and lied about the money when questioned by the FBI. The federal judge assigned to the case against Hastert will continue to preside over it after disclosing connections to the former U.S. House Speaker and several attorneys. Prosecutors and lawyers for Hastert filed paperwork Thursday, June 11, 2015, saying they're willing to have U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin remain on the case. (AP Photo/Christian K. Lee)
House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., addresses the crowd at an event highlighting the resilience of New Orleans on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)
UNITED STATES - October 7: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, October 7, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, released a statement observing: "I know every member of the House is looking for the right person. If I can serve the American people and the conservative movement in any way, sign me up. However, a couple weeks ago I was floated as a presidential candidate, so I might be pretty busy."

And a freshman congressman from Montana, Ryan Zinke, got into the action. "We're looking at it. Our phones are ringing off the hook because I think America wants something different," Zinke said. "I haven't decided, but what I have decided is that Congress better do our duty and defend our values of this country."

Several of the lawmakers sought to make clear that they were being urged by their fellow Republicans to run for speaker; not doing so out of their own ambitions.

And several also took pains to make clear that they would run only if Ryan does not.

"We are all hopeful that Paul is going to say that he would appreciate the opportunity to serve as speaker," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, adding that she's been encouraged by colleagues to look at the job. "It is going to take a listening ear and a steady head to walk our conference through some of these issues," she said.

Others who've suggested their interest in the speakership, or contacted fellow lawmakers to sound them out, include GOP Reps. Michael McCaul and Michael Conaway of Texas, Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, and Darrell Issa of California. Reps. Daniel Webster of Florida and Jason Chaffetz of Utah were running against McCarthy before he dropped out, and remain in the race. Still others, such as Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona, have seen their names pushed by outside groups seeking new leadership for the House GOP.

"These are all really, really, good people, and I think if they could convince the conference that they would run the conference in a way that's more member-oriented, many of them could be good speakers," GOP Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, a founding member of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, said in an interview after several potential candidates contacted him to gauge support.

Although Ryan would be the prohibitive favorite for the job if he does seek it, Mulvaney and others disputed arguments that he's the only one who could unite the House GOP. Ryan, an expert on budgetary matters who chairs the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee chairman, is already drawing criticism from some on the right for his support for comprehensive immigration legislation and government bailouts.

"I like him and I respect him, and I think there are a number of directions he might take us that I don't want to go, and immigration is one of those," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. "I don't think he would be one who would transform (the House) and turn it into a membership-driven organization and I think this is our one chance to do that."

See Ryan's political profile:


Associated Press writer Matt Volz in Helena, Montana contributed to this report.

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