By Deirdre Walsh and Jeremy Diamond
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Rep. Paul Ryan announced Thursday that he is officially running for speaker of the House, and he is likely to be elected next week.
“I never thought I’d be speaker,” Ryan said in a statement. “But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve — I would go all in. After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as a one, united team. And I am ready and eager to be our speaker.”
The speakership would be a dramatic career twist for the Wisconsin Republican, who was his party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012 and has repeatedly turned down pleas from colleagues to run for the post. He thoroughly enjoys his policy-heavy role as the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
Ryan’s decision comes two weeks after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy pulled out of the race when it became clear he would face an uphill battle to the speakership due to opposition from conservative House Republicans.
Ryan has since been pressed from all corners of his party to run for the job, viewed by most as the only member commanding the respect needed to unify a fractured House Republican caucus.
While Ryan initially resisted calls for him to run, he said earlier this week he would consider a bid if he could be a “unity candidate” and if he could get the backing of three key GOP House groups.
That support came when more than 70% of the House Freedom Caucus voted in favor of Ryan’s candidacy on Wednesday, and the two other groups, the Republican Study Committee and the “Tuesday group” of House GOP moderates, officially backed him on Thursday.
The current speaker, John Boehner, shocked his colleagues in late September when he announced he was resigning, saying that the constant turmoil inside the House GOP conference over his leadership was not good for the institution.