Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he's no longer running for Speaker of the House, instead throwing his support behind Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan.
Chaffetz tweeted the news tonight, saying Ryan was the "right person at the right time.
I am out and supporting @RepPaulRyan for Speaker. Right person at the right time.— Jason Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse) October 20, 2015
Ryan says he will run for Speaker if Republicans in the House unite behind him. That means his bid for speaker hinges primarily on whether the right-wing Freedom Caucus will support him.
This is important because, for anyone to be elected Speaker of the House, he or she needs to win a majority vote in the entire chamber. And since, in practice, the vote is always partisan, that means that the winning candidate needs to get a huge supermajority of his or her caucus — 88 percent for a Republican candidate this year:
That means that if the Freedom Caucus's members voted as a bloc on the floor — and it wasn't yet clear that they would — they would have had the power to prevent a Republican candidate they don't like from getting those necessary 218 votes.
So Ryan is telling the recalcitrants, in effect, "Get behind me now — before the floor vote — or I won't bother running, and good luck with whoever the other candidates turn out to be."