clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

House Republicans just elected Paul Ryan as their speaker nominee

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

On Wednesday afternoon, House Republicans took an internal vote and chose Rep. Paul Ryan as their candidate for speaker of the House. According to one congressman, 200 Republicans in the conference voted for Ryan, 43 voted for Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida, and one each voted for Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Kevin McCarthy.

This does not make Ryan speaker yet — but it sets the stage for the official speaker election by the full House of Representatives tomorrow, in which Ryan will have to win a majority of votes cast. Since Chad Pergram of Fox News reports that one of Ryan's internal votes was from the delegate from American Samoa, who can't vote in the full House, Ryan clearly has 199 votes in the bag already.

There was no real drama in today's vote. Ryan only needed to win a majority of Republicans to be chosen as his party's speaker candidate. Outgoing Speaker John Boehner, who is resigning due to far-right opposition to his leadership, hasn't had any trouble doing that. And Ryan's only actual opponent, Webster, wasn't viewed as a serious candidate.

Ryan needs around 19 more votes to actually win the speakership

However, to win the speakership on the House floor tomorrow, Ryan will need a bigger margin. That's because Democrats get a vote, too, and they won't vote for a Republican candidate. Additionally, Republicans who aren't on board with Ryan can still vote for Webster, or for another protest candidate — even someone who isn't currently a member of the House. So if Ryan has 199 votes already, he needs to pick up at least 19 more votes (if every member of Congress is present and voting):

House speaker graphic

(Javier Zarracina/Vox)

There have been some indications that many of the people who voted for Webster internally might back Ryan on the floor. And the general sense in DC is that Ryan has this thing in the bag. (Of course, that's what people thought about Kevin McCarthy too.)

However, this vote is in public, not in private — which means some members might feel pressure from their base. Some conservative media outlets have been criticizing Ryan harshly for his past support of immigration reform, though he's said he wouldn't advance any comprehensive reform while Obama is president. It's also worth noting that conservatives have been unhappy with this week's budget and debt ceiling deal — a deal Ryan endorsed.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote, though, there are reasons to doubt that Ryan will be able to heal the fundamental divisions within the House GOP, as Matt Yglesias laid out earlier this week.

Updated with information that one of the votes Ryan got internally was from the delegate from American Samoa.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.