But as House Majority Leader during Ryan's tenure, McCarthy has developed a close working relationship with Donald Trump, who calls him "my Kevin" and reportedly considered him to replace the late Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff.
Though the next months will likely see jockeying for position, both McCarthy and Scalise said Wednesday that they were not focusing on any potential leadership change, as Ryan was still speaker through the midterm elections.
Sources told HuffPost that Ryan and Scalise had a private conversation Thursday morning, and Scalise reiterated to Ryan his public position that he is not challenging McCarthy for speaker.
Scalise also said Thursday morning on Fox News that he's "never run against Kevin, and wouldn't run against Kevin".
With 38 Republican House members resigning, retiring, or seeking another office, Democrats are positioned better than ever to pick up the 25 seats they need to take control of the House and make Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaker.
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Moscow, which offers military support to the Syrian regime, has warned of a possible Russian response to a U.S. attack. Russian Federation has warned the USA and its allies against any steps that could destabilize the situation in Syria .
If Scalise can help advance that mission as speaker of the House, it would benefit Louisiana - and America.
"Steve Scalise is very popular among his colleagues and he's very high profile", said DuBos. Walker said the Freedom Caucus would have more influence if GOP House numbers dwindle in 2018.
Some Republicans worry party cohesion could soon collapse amid this jockeying and a perceived vacuum after Ryan's surprise announcement - just when member focus is most needed on keeping the House majority. Disconcertingly for the GOP, Trump's unpopularity and early Democratic momentum leave it unclear whether Ryan's replacement will be speaker or minority leader.
Several Republican lawmakers, who asked not to be named when discussing internal decisions, said potential leadership aspirants include current rank-and-file and some newer House members.
Adding to the Republican intrigue 24 hours after Ryan's announcement is an early preoccupation for other roles further down the leadership ladder.
In 2015, Freedom Caucus members also said they were open to considering McCarthy at first, but ultimately rejected him for Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., who had little chance of winning.