J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

Paul Ryan Officially Enters the House Speaker Race

“I am ready and eager to be our speaker,” the Congressman from Wisconsin wrote in a letter to colleagues on Thursday night.

On Thursday night, Representative Paul Ryan announced that he’s officially entering the race to be the next speaker of the House.

“After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as a one, united team,” Paul said in a letter to his colleagues.

Ryan formally enters the race a day after a strong majority of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus said they would back the Republican from Wisconsin. As my colleague Russell Berman pointed out on Thursday, it wasn’t the formal endorsement Ryan wanted, but it allowed him to move forward. Russell also explained the other conditions that Ryan expected to fill:  

In exchange for accepting a position that most—but not all—Republicans begged him to take, Ryan sought a few key concessions: He wants near-unanimous support from the party; he wants to be able to spend time with his family rather than fund-raise every weekend; and he wants changes to the rules that would make it harder, if not impossible, for rank-and-file lawmakers to depose him on the House floor through a “motion to vacate the chair” if they don’t get what they want.

The move would be a significant career shift for the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and one that comes during a turbulent time for the House GOP. Last month, House Speaker John Boehner said he would resign as speaker, leaving the chamber scrambling for a replacement. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was the overwhelming favorite for the position and pursued a run until suddenly withdrawing from the race. Republican leaders and rank-and-file House members sought Ryan’s candidacy from then on.

Despite drawing support from Boehner and a few Democrats, Ryan was skeptical. That changed on Thursday. “I never thought I’d be speaker. But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve—I would go all in,” he said.

The internal Republican election is set for October 28 followed by the floor election on October 29. Representative Daniel Webster is the only other member still in the race. If elected, Ryan, who is 45 years old, would be the youngest speaker since 1869.