McCarthy, Scalise seen in Paul Ryan succession challenge

Two Republicans waiting in the wings behind departing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are now in a competition to take his job.

Ryan announced Wednesday that he would not seek re-election, setting the stage for another leadership change after less than three years of the former vice presidential candidate in charge.

The two GOP congressmen most likely to take his gavel are the two lawmakers directly under him in the pecking order, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Observers don’t see a huge ideological gulf between the two contenders, though McCarthypreviously failed to win over the more conservative elements of the party during a move for the speaker’s role in 2015.

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Recent headlines about the 53-year-old have focused on his good rapport with President Trump.

Scalise, who was wounded in last year’s Virginia baseball shooting, has said that he would like to lead the party was well, though has said he would not challenge McCarthy directly.

Ryan was picked by his GOP colleagues in 2015 after McCarthy abruptly withdrew because members of the House Freedom Caucus could have stopped him from getting enough votes.

Both McCarthy and Scalise said Wednesday that they were not focusing on any potential leadership election, as Ryan was still speaker through the midterm elections.

Those midterm elections may eliminate any need for a GOP speaker, with Democrats seen as having a chance to take control of the House.