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Local

Roskam says he won’t run for House speaker

U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam
U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam

Local U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, whose name has circulated among House Republicans as a possible candidate for House speaker, said he has no interest in the position.

Roskam, R-Wheaton, said Tuesday he, like many of his fellow Republicans, hopes his friend, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, gives in and runs. Ryan, who was Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, publicly has made clear he does not want the job, but is under significant pressure to change his mind.

“I’m not running for speaker,” Roskam said in a statement. “I’m supporting Paul Ryan. He would make a great speaker.”

The House has been thrown into chaos after two political bombshells in as many weeks. House Speaker John Boehner announced Sept. 25 he would resign from the speakership and his House seat effective at the end of October.

His heir apparent, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, withdrew his candidacy last week, leaving House Republicans divided between the establishment and a smaller but vocal right-wing faction with no clear leader who can secure the 218 votes needed for the speakership.

Roskam since 2006 has represented the 6th Congressional District, which includes portions of St. Charles and South Elgin.

The five-term congressman has earned significant respect from his fellow Republican representatives, and from 2011 to 2014 held the fourth-highest House position of chief deputy whip. His name was among several being thrown around as a possible unifying figure who could take the role of House speaker.

Roskam is close to Ryan, who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Roskam is chairman of its Subcommittee on Oversight, and has made a name for himself during the investigation over the apparent targeting of conservative groups for additional scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service.

A number of announced speaker candidates, such as Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Michael McCall, R-Texas, have said they will stand down and fully back Ryan if he decides to seek the speakership.

But if Ryan holds firm and says no, a political free-for-all is expected to erupt. Besides declared candidates, a number of House Republicans quietly have been putting out feelers to gauge support.

McCarthy was a favorite to win the speakership, but the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative bloc that has been flexing its muscle, supported another candidate, meaning he most likely would not have the Republican votes to win.

He also had been criticized for recent remarks that suggested the special congressional committee investigating the Benghazi terrorist attacks was motivated to hurt former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Boehner said he will stay on as speaker, and second in line for presidential succession, until a new speaker is elected.

As for Ryan, spokesman Brendan Buck took to Twitter on Monday to say “nothing has changed I don’t anticipate any news this week.”

The leadership void in the GOP, and its fight between its establishment members and more conservative elements, comes at a time when the party commands its largest House majority in more than 80 years.

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