Members of the Oklahoma Congressional delegation have voiced their opinions regarding the race for the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the wake of Speaker Boehner’s retirement announcement and front-runner Kevin McCarthy’s decision to leave the race.
U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) described the speaker race as “wide open.”
Russell said he approached South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy after McCarthy dropped out of the race, but Gowdy quickly said he is not interested.
The Freedom Caucus, a group of about 40 conservative House members, opposed McCarthy. Russell said they have no clear plans on issues like budget negotiations, Russia’s moves in Syria or Social Security and Medicare.
“We have deep divisions right now with a certain segment that are these 100 percent, all or nothing types of Congressmen in a group. But the problem with that is they can’t even agree amongst themselves on what the 100 percent is,” Russell said. “It’s easy enough to pull the pillars down. It’s not easy to live in the rubble that’s after.”
Russell said the next speaker needs to be able to, “unite the vast majority of us on the things that we can all agree on.” He believes the next speaker needs to have experience and an ability to negotiate deals with the President and Senate..
“Somebody that has a steady hand and has a longer view and it not prone to being reactionary,” Russell said.
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4) dismissed rumors that he could be in the running for speaker, but is urging Wisconsin Representative and former vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, to fill the leadership void, according to The Oklahoman.
In an interview with the newspaper, Cole said he has spoken with Rep. Ryan multiple times and he has not expressed interest in the position. Despite Ryan’s current stance, Cole said he believes he will seek the position.
"He's trying to avoid it. But it's hard to say 'no' when everybody is desperate for you to do it. He's clearly the best choice," Cole told the newspaper.
In an interview with Vox, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), who has served since 1994, said the speakership is a difficult task. “A lot of my colleagues who are very bright, very sincere, and very ambitions might be concerned that the next speaker for the remainder of this term of office might be volunteering to captain the Titanic,” Lucas told Vox.
Rep. Lucas also expressed interest in Paul Ryan taking the position.
“Paul is a very bright, talented fellow who does things in a very methodical fashion and we'll see if he decides that trying to put this jigsaw puzzle back together is what he wants to do,” Lucas said in an interview with Agri Pulse.