WASHINGTON – Outgoing Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., is in discussions with GOP leadership to run for speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives — but only if former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan declines to run.
Kline, who was first elected to the House in 2002, announced in September that he would not seek another term. If elected speaker this year, he would serve as an interim through the rest of this Congress, which wraps up at the end of next year.
Kline is a close friend of House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, who plans to leave Congress at the end of October. Kline serves in GOP leadership and is chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The two are known for late-night talks in their offices over cigars, for Kline, and cigarettes, for Boehner.
The congressman declined interviews Friday, but his spokesman Troy Young said that “Mr. Kline has been and continues to urge Paul Ryan to be the next speaker.”
Ryan, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, has insisted all week that he is not interested in the job, but canceled all events and fundraisers this weekend to think about it and talk to colleagues. Late Friday morning, the Wisconsin congressman indicated that he was “considering” a run, according to news reports.
Rep. Erik Paulsen’s spokesman Drew Griffin said Friday that Paulsen thinks Ryan shows promise. Paulsen, R-Minn. also serves on the Ways and Means Committee.
“The congressman thinks that Chairman Ryan has the talent to be an excellent speaker,” Griffin said.
Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., did not comment about his thoughts on Ryan Friday. A spokesman for Emmer said he was looking forward to upcoming discussions in the GOP conference.
In an earlier interview, Emmer said there would be no progress “until you have a leader who acts like a leader, who behaves like a leader. … This person says, this is a new leadership in town and this is how we’re going to lead this thing and this is how we’re going to do it. We have 13 months.”