Texas Rep. Bill Flores to run for U.S. House Speaker

Bill Flores to Run for U.S. House Speaker

by Abby Livingston, The Texas Tribune

October 12, 2015

*Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include an interview with Rep. Bill Flores.  

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, said Monday he intends to seek the gavel of the United States House of Representatives if his colleague, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, doesn’t. 

Though GOP lawmakers have been urging Ryan to run as a consensus candidate, Flores said in an interview with The Texas Tribune that he spoke to Ryan on Sunday. 

“I don’t want to share private conversations, but he was still a ‘no’ as of yesterday when I spoke to him,” Flores said.  

If Flores is to succeed, he will need the 25-member Texas House delegation behind him. That’s no certainty yet, given  possible home state competition. U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Midland, has said he will consider running for speaker if Ryan opts against a run. U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul is also mulling a run, a source close to him confirmed.  

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“Where we are now is, what we’ve agreed is that we’re going to hold our powder dry,” Flores said of his fellow Texans. “And then we’ll see which Texan gets the most traction, and the thinking is today that we’ll coalesce around one Texan eventually.”  

The political world is holding its breath as Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, reluctantly considers Republican entreaties to run. While he has expressed little interest in serving in the position in this moment of Republican turmoil, he is generally considered the lone Republican who can unite the fractious House conference.  

The reason for the turmoil is this: A speaker must secure 218 votes to assume the gavel. There are 247 House Republicans, but about 40 of those members — the most conservative in the chamber — are making demands on contenders that will radically change how the U.S. House operates.  

Flores, who described himself as a “non-traditional candidate,” telegraphed that he would be be amenable to their demands. Alluding to the churn, he said outgoing Speaker John Boehner’s resignation and U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent withdrawal from the speaker’s race present Republicans with an opportunity to elect “someone who’ll come in and say, ‘Let’s look at all the rules. Let’s figure out how we turn this thing the right way so that ideas flow from up from the bottom — from our constituents through the representatives and through the committee process and then on the floor.'”  

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Flores said Republicans need someone at the top who “hasn’t been in leadership” before. He noted that another speaker contender, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is too senior to be in that group.  

If Ryan doesn’t run and Flores does, the Texas congressman’s biggest strength is that he chairs the largest voting bloc of conservatives, the Republican Study Committee.  

The Texas Tribune first reported last week that Flores was giving a run serious thought.   

Evan Smith contributed to this report.  

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/10/12/bill-flores-run-speaker-us-house/.