The Short List to Replace House Speaker John Boehner

Kevin McCarthy's decision to drop out of race kicked off a scramble.

— -- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's surprise decision to drop out of the race for House Speaker has a launched a new scramble to fill the job.

House Speaker John Boehner, who announced his resignation from the speakership last month, says he will remain in the position until a new speaker is elected, but the leadership election is now postponed to a yet to be announced date.

When McCarthy took himself out of the race, two other Republicans were also running for the speakership -- Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida -- but House Republicans could try to recruit some new candidates.


Webster quickly announced his campaign for the speakership after Boehner revealed his resignation and was considered a long-shot candidate.

On Thursday, Webster received a coveted endorsement from the House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly 40 conservative lawmakers in the House. This constituency helped prod McCarthy out of the speaker's race, demonstrating they will be influential in selecting the next speaker.

As the field currently stands, the House Freedom Caucus plans to vote for Webster in the GOP speaker election.


Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, surprised many Republicans when he announced his speakership bid earlier this week. Chaffetz has admitted he is an "underdog" candidate but thinks he would be a good compromise.

“Clearly, I’m an underdog. I get that. I ran because I’m trying to bridge the gulf and divide in the Republican conference and say hey, it’s time for a fresh start,” he told reporters.

One member who supported McCarthy suggested the decision to postpone the speaker election after McCarthy's announcement indicated that Chaffetz and Webster still lack the support of most Republicans.


Ryan, of Wisconsin, would make a strong contender for speaker, but he quickly reiterated his opposition to running for the speakership after McCarthy dropped out.

"While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee," Ryan said Thursday.

After a day of public and private pleas to consider running for speaker, Ryan did not change his tone or tamp down the speculation late Thursday evening.

“I just don’t have any answers for you right now,” he added. “My statement stands, I haven’t changed anything.”

[Ryan joked that if he were House speaker, he'd ask Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to address a joint session of Congress.]

Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, also has no interest in running, despite prodding from some Republicans.

“He is not a candidate for any leadership position,” a spokesperson for Gowdy said.


While Hensarling decided not to run for leadership following Boehner's announcement, he has not shot down chatter about a potential speaker bid following McCarthy's announcement.

“It’s time to take a deep breath,” he said today, after huddling in Paul Ryan's committee office.

Some lawmakers have floated the idea of a "caretaker" speaker - a person with institutional knowledge who can takeover the speakership for 14 months, giving lawmakers more time to find a permanent solution.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said a caretaker is one of three options, the other two being a centrist who can unite the party; an institutionalist who puts the rules before everything else; or a caretaker.

“Somebody maybe who's been here a long time who can say look, I’ll run the place for the next 14 months. None of those names immediately comes to mind," Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said said.

“We need a caretaker for 14 months so that the rest of us can focus on winning the election and making sure the American people are mobilized to the cause," Rep Dana Rohrabacher said.

Rohrabacher mentioned Rep. John Kline, of Pennsylvania; Rep. Joe Barton, of Texas; and Rep. Hal Rogers, of Kentucky as possibilities. When Rogers was asked whether he'd accept the job if offered, Rogers told ABC News, "I'm not the person for that job...I'd say no."

But Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, a hardliner who led the efforts against Boehner, said a caretaker "is not the answer to the problem."

"This place is used to kicking the can down the road," he said. "If we're going to have a tough debate, we might as well do it now."

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl contributed to this report