U.S. Rep. Greg Walden said he would be willing to accept the speaker of the House position if the Republican Party supports the idea and if Rep. Paul Ryan declines the offer.
“Greg would always be willing to step in as needed,” said Walden’s spokesman Andrew Malcolm.
Walden’s name has come up recently as Republican leaders look for a replacement for House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, who on Sept. 25 announced he would be stepping down at the end of October. As Republicans search for a new leader, Walden has been suggested as a possibility for either an interim or permanent role.
Walden remains steadfastly in support of Ryan as someone who would help unify Republicans, would offer depth to policy issues and would be an articulate speaker of the House, Malcolm said.
“Greg thinks he would be the best choice,” Malcolm said.
Ryan, of Wisconsin, has so far refused the speaker position despite pressure from his party.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, announced Thursday he wouldn’t be in the running for speaker, throwing the Republican leadership into further chaos.
Former Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last week he thinks Walden has what it takes to lead the House.
“One great candidate would be Greg Walden, the head of the committee responsible for electing the conference of Republicans into the majority,” Rogers said. “He knows there are challenges. He knows their political bent and he's a seasoned hand, which was missing in this leadership election.”
Walden has worked closely with Boehner on various congressional issues over the years.
In 2010, Boehner appointed Walden as chairman of the Republican Leadership team. Walden is chair of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee.
In 2013, Boehner and other Republican leaders rebuked Walden for his comments criticizing President Barack Obama for trying to slow the rate of Social Security cost-of-living increases, one of the few Obama budget proposals Republicans backed.
But Boehner himself has often been at odds with more conservative members of his own party, and he referred recently to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as a “jackass.”
Ken Fawcett, chairman of the Jackson County Republican Party, called Walden's close association with Boehner "a double-edged sword.”
Fawcett said it could gain Walden some support with congressional colleagues, while potentially losing support with more conservative members. Fawcett said he wasn’t sure whether Walden could get the 218 votes needed in the House to become speaker.
“My impression is he is well liked, provides a measured approach and he has been successful at his job,” Fawcett said. “He did very well as head of a congressional leadership committee.”
Fawcett said the speaker role requires someone who is a great spokesman for the party and is someone who can articulate the party’s vision.
“Greg Walden may well be the right guy for an interim role, but he has some battles to overcome,” Fawcett said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.