Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) is still running for Speaker of the House, and won’t back down to make way for House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Webster told House GOP members at the Conservative Opportunity Society (COS) on Wednesday morning he will continue his bid for the Speakership. COS is run by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), one of the most influential conservative veterans in the conference. King has endorsed Webster for Speaker.
The news comes after Ryan, following nearly two weeks of silence, finally spoke out on Tuesday saying he’d run for Speaker only if very specific conditions are met. Webster, on the other hand, has promised to flatten the pyramid of power Boehner has built.
“I have one desire: That is to have a principle-based, member-driven Congress. Period. That’s what I want,” Webster told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.
Really, right now, the default of every legislative body I’ve been to—and I’ve been to a lot of them—is a power-based system as opposed to principle-based. That works too, you can do it that way where a few people at the top of the pyramid make all of the decisions. We’d rather see a flattened down pyramid of power and spread out the base so every member has an opportunity to be successful.
The House Freedom Caucus—a 40-plus member group of other conservatives—has officially endorsed Webster for Speaker. It’s unclear whether the group will stand with Webster, but several Freedom Caucus sources are confident Ryan will never achieve the 80 percent in-group support necessary to win its endorsement.
Webster’s office hasn’t responded to a request for comment on Wednesday in response to the revelation he’s still running for Speaker, but this seems to seriously complicate Ryan’s pathway forward. Ryan has said he won’t run if House Republicans don’t unite behind him.
House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), meanwhile, has dropped his bid for the House Speakership in response to Ryan’s decision to officially publicly flirt with a run. “I am out and supporting @RepPaulRyan for Speaker. Right person at the right time,” Chaffetz Tweeted on Tuesday evening.
There are lots of GOP alternatives to Ryan who are considering Speakership bids if Ryan fails to win 218 votes. Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are thought to be two such members.
Boehner has scheduled the Speakership vote for Oct. 28 in conference and for Oct. 29 on the House floor. Boehner is set to resign from Congress on Oct. 30.