Daniel Doherty

The most popular undeclared presidential candidate in Iowa is purportedly more interested in chairing the powerful House Ways and Means Committee than running for president in 2016, dozens of Congressional Republicans told the Hill. If true -- and we don’t know if it is -- many conservatives will be bitterly disappointed:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has a choice to make.

The Republican Budget Committee chairman is the most popular conservative in the House, and over the coming year, he will have to decide whether to seek a more powerful committee gavel, launch a bid for House leadership or take a risky leap into the crowded waters of the 2016 presidential campaign.

In interviews The Hill conducted with more than two dozen House Republicans from across the ideological spectrum over the last couple of weeks, many of Ryan’s colleagues said they are doubtful he will run for president in 2016. Most believe that concerns for his young family will lead him to lay claim to the job he’s always wanted: chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Ryan scored a significant victory last week when the two-year budget deal he negotiated with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) earned 332 votes in the House — a total that dwarfs just about any other fiscal agreement of the last three years. The Senate is expected to approve the bill on Wednesday.

Per the Hill, Ryan's office didn’t comment on the speculation. But one reason he seems hesitant to run, Republicans reason, is because he has young children, and the pressures of a presidential bid would put unnecessary strains on his family:

Lawmakers close to Ryan, however, are skeptical that he will run. Ryan and his wife Janna have three children, and his friends say that his concern about the hardship of an 18-month presidential campaign is a genuine factor in his consideration.

“Paul has a young family and was apprehensive about putting them through the run for vice president,” said one House Republican. “Running for vice president is a walk in the park compared to running for president.”

At 43, Ryan could be a viable presidential contender for the next two decades or longer, leading some Republicans to conclude that he will wait to run until his children are older.

And there’s this:

A less-discussed factor in Ryan’s presidential thinking is Gov. Scott Walker, another popular Wisconsin Republican who is eyeing a White House bid. Ryan allies in the House said he would not run against Walker in 2016.

That second reason seems much less plausible than the first. But whatever the deciding factor might be, Republican lawmakers seem utterly convinced he’ll sit this one out. That being said, Republicans do in fact envision him possibly running for Speaker in the years ahead if John Boehner retires, or perhaps seeking higher national office sometime down the road. If anything, he is well-respected by his Republican colleagues across the spectrum, and, despite what happened in 2012, his future in the party seems bright.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography