WASHINGTON - U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to be his successor, NBC News reported Friday.
"We all think that Kevin is the right person," the Wisconsin lawmaker said in an interview airing Sunday on Meet the Press.
Ryan said Wednesday that he would not seek re-election in November, dealing a blow to fellow Republicans and President Donald Trump before the congressional elections.
The announcement dismayed some Republicans already concerned about their prospects with U.S. voters in November. Now they fear they may have to deal with a House of Representatives leadership struggle when the party should focus on defending its congressional majorities and advancing Trump's agenda.
Ryan's endorsement, however, gives McCarthy an edge in the leadership contest.
Ryan told NBC he believed having McCarthy step in would work toward a smoother transition in House leadership.
"We have made a huge, positive difference in people's lives, and people are more confident as a result of it," Ryan said. "This leadership team has done that, and so I really do envision a more seamless transition, versus, say, the time when I came in."
Another name circulating as a possible Ryan replacement was House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. He and McCarthy are expected to wage a furious effort to raise campaign funds for fellow House Republicans to shore up support for their potential leadership aspirations.
Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a co-founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, whose members have at times clashed with Ryan and other Republican leaders, said he was also open to pursuing the role of speaker.
"We have six more months to prove Republicans deserve to keep the majority. If and when there is a speaker's race, colleagues have approached me about running, and that's something I'm open to doing," Jordan said in an statement emailed Friday to Reuters.