Zinke Considering Bid for House Speaker

Amid 'leadership crisis' in U.S. House, freshman Whitefish representative says he’ll consider run to replace John Boehner

By Tristan Scott
U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., salutes supporters at the Flathead County Fairgrounds on Nov. 4, 2014. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, the first-term Republican congressman and former Navy Seal commander from Whitefish, said Tuesday he’s considering a bid to replace John Boehner as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The surprising announcement comes amid a leadership crisis in the House that reached a crossroads last month when outgoing Speaker Boehner, R-Ohio, announced he was retiring at the end of October. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, of California, the presumptive front-runner to replace Boehner in the Republican-led House, then surprised everyone by dropping out of the speaker race.

Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, another potential front-runner, immediately dismissed the notion of a speaker bid when his office released a statement saying he would not run for the position.

The turmoil has produced little in the way of clarity, and certainly no sense of resolution. But in political circles, it is raising the persistent question – does anyone want to become the next speaker of the house?

Apparently Ryan Zinke does. The former Navy Seal commander, who was elected to Congress last year, said as much in a statement his office released Tuesday afternoon, calling the situation in the House dire and pledging to do his duty and resolve the leadership crisis.

A spokesperson from Zinke’s office confirmed he’s openly considering a run for the speaker position, and sent the following statement:

“I’m looking at it. The Speaker is about leadership and not policy and we’re at a point in our nation’s history where we’ve had a Speaker resign, we’ve had a presumptive Speaker resign and quite frankly we’re facing what I think is a leadership crisis. In our country’s history, there have been other freshmen Speakers—though it has been a long time.

 

“But it isn’t about policies. It’s about getting the Congress to do their duty: And that’s the defend the principles that made this country strong and defending the Constitution. I’ve taken an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. It’s time to rise and put our country first, and yourself second. It’s about leadership.

 

“We’re looking at it. Our phones are ringing off the hook because I think America wants something different. I haven’t decided, but what I have decided is that Congress better do our duty and defend our values of this country.

 

“I’m listening—I’m on a bus tour around beautiful Montana, That’s the heartbeat of America right there. Americans are frustrated and they look at their government and it’s not doing what we should be doing. They want a better future and they want America to be strong and prosperous.”

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