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Expert: Rep. Zinke A Longshot For Speaker

Rep. Ryan Zinke
Eric Whitney
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Rep. Ryan Zinke

Congressman Ryan Zinke's announcement Tuesday that he's considering running for Speaker of the U.S. House caught just about everyone by surprise, so don't feel too out-of-the-loop if you didn't see it coming.

"No, it doesn't make you politically naive. I certainly didn't expect Congressman Zinke to make this announcement and I study Congress."

That's Montana State University political scientist David Parker who says just about everyone was blindsided by Zinke's announcement on Tuesday.

Zinke says Speaker John Boehner's resignation, Representative Kevin McCarthy's withdrawal as his replacement, and Paul Ryan's hesitancy to fill the void has led to a crisis of leadership in Congress. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, says Americans are tired of the status quo and want a talented leader.

"And in my background I've led some of the finest teams this nation's ever put together, and it is about teamwork and leadership; getting an enormously talented body moving in one direction," Zinke says.

MSU political scientist David Parker doesn't think Zinke's potential bid makes much sense.

"The best experience I have, according to Patrick Henry, is the Lamp of Experience and frankly that lamp tells me that (his) chances are extraordinarily slim. I can't say no chance. I do think Ryan Zinke has some leadership qualities, but look, the Speaker is about understanding the institution, understanding the rules and raising lots of money for the party. I just don't see optically how this makes any sense for him or why the House would go in this direction."

Zinke is a congressional freshman who hasn't finished his first term, but the Republican doesn't see this as a problem.

"There've been speakers in the past who've been freshmen. I don't think the resume necessarily should be built upon status quo or establishment or an agenda," Zinke says. "I think the resume should be built upon the ability to lead."

There have been freshman speakers of the U.S. House, but as David Parker notes, that was a long time ago.

"You have to go back to the 1800's to when we had a freshman Speaker of the House. The House was completely different back then. It was a really new institution. You had high levels of turnover. Very few people stayed in Washington. Going into the 20th century it would be unprecedented. In fact, it would be unprecedented from the late 1800's on," according to Parker.

Zinke says he's been encouraged to make a run for the Speaker's chair by congressional colleagues, veterans and constituents.

"I've been encouraged by people in and out of the state to consider it, and so I am considering it...I've never retreated from any battle and I'm not going to retreat from this battle, but I want to see whether Paul Ryan declares. I would support Paul Ryan and I think the strong majority of the caucus would."

If Ryan doesn't run for the Speaker, at least 12 other House Republicans are reportedly interested in entering the race including Representative Pete Sessions of Texas.

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