Rep. Paul Ryan on Thursday formally declared his candidacy for speaker of the House after getting unified support from across the Republican conference.
“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,” Ryan said in a letter to colleagues. “And I am ready and eager to be our speaker.”
Ryan sought unity from divided Republicans as a condition for his candidacy. He succeeded in getting support from three major caucuses within the GOP, including the Freedom Caucus that forced Speaker John Boehner, to announce his resignation.
In announcing his potential candidacy for the speaker’s job earlier this week, Ryan had said he wanted endorsements from all three groups to guarantee he would emerge as a unity candidate for House Republicans. The Freedom Caucus’s support fell short of a formal endorsement, since that would have required 80 percent agreement that the group was not able to achieve, but Ryan accepted it as a show of unity.
The decision would put the Ryan had sought the speakership only when a leadership void emerged in the House after Boehner announced plans to resign, and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy abruptly withdrew from the race to replace him. Although a dozen or so other lawmakers were also exploring the race, most Republicans viewed Ryan as the only figure capable of uniting warring factions in the GOP.
Ryan initially demurred but relented under heavy pressure from GOP leaders — with conditions. He sought united support and enough flexibility to spend time with his family in Wisconsin. He also sought to change a House rule allowing an individual lawmaker to force a vote on ousting the speaker at any time, the procedure conservatives were threatening against Boehner before he resigned.