Scalise Says He Won’t Run Against McCarthy to Succeed Ryan

But Louisiana Republican’s phrasing appears to leave some wiggle room

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.,  center left, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., center right, arrive for the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It was the race that wasn’t.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise on Thursday threw his support behind Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to succeed Speaker Paul D. Ryan as the House GOP leader. 

“I’ve never run against Kevin, and wouldn’t run against Kevin,” the Louisiana Republican said Thursday morning on Fox News. 

Scalise’s remark appears to leave some wiggle room, because it assumes McCarthy will run for the slot. If the California Republican doesn’t, Scalise would be a natural person to bid for the position.

Ryan Talks Leadership Team, Syria

Ryan, who announced Wednesday he wasn’t seeking re-election but would stay on as speaker through the current term, said at a press conference Thursday morning that the majority whip had endorsed McCarthy.

“I was encouraged that Steve Scalise said this morning that he thinks that after the election that Kevin McCarthy ought to be the person to replace me,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “It shows you we have an intact leadership team.”

Ryan said he’s talked to a lot of members who think it’s in House Republicans’ “best interest” to keep the current leadership team through the end of the year.

Watch: A Slice of Louisiana: Inside Scalise’s Leadership Office

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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