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The Short List to Replace House Speaker John Boehner

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With the news that House Speaker John Boehner will resign from the speakership and his congressional seat on Oct. 30, the race has begun to replace him.

As Republicans start to jockey for position, several senior members of the conference jump out as immediate contenders, but none more so than Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.


The California Republican would be the natural choice. A promotion from the No. 2 slot to the speakership could be in the cards and his prior election as majority leader was a reflection of his popularity in the conference. On the other hand, his close association as Boehner’s top lieutenant could spoil his chances.

“Now is the time for our conference to focus on healing and unifying to face the challenges ahead and always do what is best for the American people,” he wrote in a statement.

McCarthy told ABC News he was "shocked" at Boehner's resignation but would not comment on whether he would seek to replace him. Nevertheless, McCarthy is widely expected to run for speaker and win. McCarthy wants to give Boehner time, but a top McCarthy aide tells ABC News to look for an announcement in the coming days. If McCarthy moves up, a scramble for other top leadership positions would ensue.


Ryan, of Wisconsin, would also make a strong contender for speaker, although after Boehner announced his intent to retire at the end of next month, he quickly made clear that he doesn’t intend to wade into the leadership battle. Through a senior aide, the former GOP vice presidential nominee insisted he “has no plans to pursue the position of Speaker of the House.”


Another lawmaker with an outside possibility to ascend to the speaker’s chair is Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, the chairman of the House Financial Services committee. After serving during the 112th Congress as GOP Conference chair -– the No. 4 position in the GOP’s ranks -- Hensarling left the party’s elected leadership. He declined to run for Majority Leader when the post opened up after former Rep. Eric Cantor resigned when he was upset in a primary bid in June 2014. Nevertheless, Hensarling is a proven fundraiser and has extensive popularity among congressional conservatives.


Other establishment Republicans who could be in the mix to run for speaker or another position in leadership include Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the top-ranked Republican woman in Congress, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, or Raul Labrador of Idaho.

“As for succession, today is not the day for such talk,” Labrador wrote in a statement. “But I am committed to supporting leaders who will keep our promise to the American people to fight for real change in Washington.”


While some of the most conservative members of the House may harbor aspirations to seek the Speaker’s gavel, their odds are greater given their less prolific fundraising capabilities.

Reps. Daniel Webster and Ted Yoho -– both of Florida -- attempted a coup in January at the beginning of the 114th Congress, but their longshot effort was more symbolic to show Boehner did not have unanimous support among the GOP conference. Neither had a chance then and likely could not gain enough support to win even after Boehner steps down.

“My goal is for the House of Representatives to be based on principle, not on power," Webster said. "Every Member of Congress deserves a seat at the table to be involved in the process. I will continue fighting for this to become a reality in Washington, and will be running for Speaker of the House.”

Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina led a recent revolt against Boehner in late July just before the summer recess, filing a motion to vacate the chair to protest Boehner’s management of the conference.

Meadows did not rule out a bid for speaker, but the former Speaker of the Florida state legislature noted that “leadership is not an easy task.”

“Yesterday was the Pope’s day; today is Speaker Boehner’s day. Tomorrow is another day,” he wrote.


One conservative announced Friday afternoon that she will work with a group that will interview candidates for speaker.

“We will be looking for candidates who will restore regular order, who will allow committees to do their work, and to report legislation to the floor that has come through the committee process,” Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, noted. “We’ll also be looking for a speaker who will elevate and restore Congress’s rightful role as a co-equal branch of our government.”

Rep. David Young (R-Iowa) also declared that he wants to hear from candidates ahead of a vote next month, not only for Speaker, but other leadership positions that may open up.

“Soon, we will elect a new Speaker of the House,” Young wrote. “I look forward to sitting down with those who may be running for that position, or any other leadership position, to understand their priorities and advocate for the concerns of Iowa's 3rd Congressional District and this nation."

But with the top Republican retiring, the entire leadership ranks could collapse and open up an opportunity for a perceived outsider to take over – someone without close ties to Boehner.

No date for the speaker’s election has been established by the GOP conference. And while all the contenders appear to be prominent House Republicans, there is no constitutional requirement that the Speaker of the House be a Member of Congress.

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and Ali Weinberg contributed to this report