October 12, 2015 / 4:10 PM / 4 years ago

U.S. House's Flores will seek speakership if Ryan doesn't

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Another Republican stepped forward on Monday to contend for the top job in the U.S. House of Representatives, laying claim to a post that others have so far found too hot to handle.

Texas Representative Bill Flores will run for speaker of the House if his Wisconsin colleague, Representative Paul Ryan, does not run for it, a spokesman for Flores said on Monday.

“Congressman Flores is planning to run for speaker,” Andre Castro said. “However, if Congressman Paul Ryan runs, (Flores) will step aside and support him.”

House Republicans have been in chaos since current Speaker John Boehner’s stunning Sept. 25 announcement that he would step down at the end of October. His top lieutenant, Kevin McCarthy, was expected to replace him, but suddenly backed out last week.

Ryan, a former Republican vice-presidential nominee, has so far resisted calls for him to enter the speaker race. Two others are already in it, Daniel Webster and Jason Chaffetz, who has also said he would drop out if Ryan jumps in.

A third-term congressman who chairs the largest caucus of conservatives in Congress, Flores last week said House Republicans must find a leader who can unite the party’s quarrelling moderates and right-wingers.

The 61-year-old Flores is a long-time energy industry executive. He was elected to Congress in 2010. Last year he became chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 170 conservatives, including two-thirds of House Republicans.

To become RSC chairman, Flores defeated two Tea Party favorites, Representatives Louie Gohmert and Mick Mulvaney.

Not long afterward, a smaller RSC splinter group known as the Freedom Caucus was formed by lawmakers who said they wanted a more nimble and combative alternative to the RSC. Freedom Caucus members have fought frequently with Boehner.

McCarthy pulled out of the speaker’s race after conservative critics said he was too willing to compromise with Democratic President Barack Obama. Boehner has said he will stay on until a new speaker is elected.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Timothy Ahmann; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Dan Grebler

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