Opinion: Paul Ryan remaining House speaker for the rest of his term could hurt the GOP

(Sinclair Broadcast Group)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Boris Epshteyn formerly served as a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Speaker Paul Ryan not running for re-election is not a big surprise. There have been whispers about him making a move for a long time now. I thought he would give up the speakership but stay in Congress.

Instead, Paul Ryan is planning to stay as speaker through the midterm elections in November and then leave Congress altogether.

Assuming Republicans hold the House in the midterms, we could be looking at seven months of infighting among GOP members of the House who are all eyeing the speaker's gavel.

The current Republican favorites to replace Paul Ryan are Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

Both McCarthy and Scalise are popular and they're both close to President Trump in a way that Speaker Ryan has never really been.

If Paul Ryan left the speakership soon, McCarthy would be favored to replace him, since McCarthy is the heir apparent and has more of a structure in place than others.

However, a long race for speaker opens it up not just to Congressman Scalise but to others who may want to jump in, like Congressman Mark Meadows from the Conservative Freedom Caucus.

I think that the Republicans should be concerned that is that a long leadership election during an extremely tough midterm season could be debilitating for the party.

Here is the bottom line: Paul Ryan has done a great job as speaker, especially in getting tax reform done. However, at this point, Republicans cannot allow for the competition to replace Paul Ryan to become a distraction. Therefore, I think it may be in the best interest of the Republican Party to elect a new speaker as soon as possible so the party is united heading into November.

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