Irvine, Calif. (CNN)The lawmaker leading Republican efforts to maintain their House majority, Rep. Steve Stivers, is downplaying the possibility of a shake-up among House Republican leaders before Election Day, amid heightened chatter about Speaker Paul Ryan's future and speculation about what it might mean for the high-stakes midterm elections.
GOP campaign chief says no 'shake-up coming anytime soon' in House leadership
During a visit to Southern California on Tuesday to open a campaign headquarters here, the Ohio Republican acknowledged the "talk and rumors" that have circulated regarding Ryan, along with speculation about the ambitions of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. "But I don't see a shake-up coming anytime soon," said Stivers.
Still, in an interview Tuesday with CNN, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee stressed the party's "incredible bench that I think is ready to step up if they need it," as he ticked off the names of Ryan and the rest of his House leadership team, including California's McCarthy and Louisiana's Scalise.
Scalise, for his part, told Politico last week that he would not rule out a run at the speakership should Ryan retire -- a comment that set the Washington rumor mill churning furiously. But Stivers on Tuesday shrugged off Scalise's remarks to Politico, saying Scalise is "not talking about challenging anybody, he's talking about the future."
"Steve is an ambitious, hardworking guy, and that's what makes America great, is ambition," Stivers said. "There's nothing wrong with that."
And Scalise, who nearly died last year when he was shot at a congressional baseball practice, still faces challenges in his recovery, Stivers noted. "He's still got another operation or two, potentially," Stivers said. "So, when Steve's saying, 'I'd be willing to be speaker,' I don't think he's saying, 'I'm willing to be speaker tomorrow.' "
The question of Ryan's future is not merely academic for Stivers and his committee: Ryan has been a prolific fundraiser for House Republicans, having transferred $38 million to the NRCC for the cycle as of early March.
But Stivers touted the committee's "diverse fundraising base," noting strong numbers by McCarthy and Scalise, too. "So, I don't really worry about that."