By David Morgan and Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Overlooked in all the speculation about running for president, Republican Paul Ryan has quietly laid to rest doubts about his ability as a campaign fundraiser for congressional colleagues.
Ryan has raised more than $9 million through his "Team Ryan" network since his first day as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 30, 2015, through the end of January 2016, a Reuters review of U.S. Federal Election Commission filings showed.
That haul helps House Republicans and party committees and compares with about $6 million raised by his predecessor John Boehner over the same three-month period in the 2014 campaign cycle and about $7 million in the 2012 presidential election cycle.
Ryan has delivered at least $8 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), a party group that backs congressional Republicans, again topping Boehner in 2014 and 2012, according to FEC filings through Feb. 29.
That has helped put the NRCC in its best cash-on-hand position ever entering an election year, and placed it $2 million ahead of the rival Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
"I’ll put it this way, Paul Ryan is a finance chair’s dream in terms of fund-raising," said Representative Ann Wagner, the NRCC's finance chairman.
The uncertainty this election year about who will win both parties' presidential nominations has also helped fundraising for congressional candidates, she said.
Ryan has defied skeptics who doubted last year that he could match Boehner on the cash front and still fulfill a pledge to be at home with his family on weekends.
"I'M NOT THAT PERSON"
In U.S. politics, the ability to fundraise is a key test of potential for higher office, but Ryan, who ran unsuccessfully for vice president in 2012, has consistently denied he is interested in entering the 2016 White House race.
"Get my name out of it ... I'm not that person," Ryan said on Monday, speaking from Israel, where he is on a congressional visit, in an interview with talk radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Nonetheless Ryan is the center of speculation that he could emerge as a compromise nominee if the party's presidential nominating convention dissolves in chaos in July.
“I'm not running for president ... End of story,” Ryan said.
Despite his fundraising prowess, there are some signs of trouble ahead for Ryan. The mere mention of his name produced boos from supporters of Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump at a recent rally in Ryan's home district. And a Wisconsin conservative has announced he will challenge Ryan in the Republican congressional primary election scheduled for August.
On Capitol Hill, Ryan must also preserve a tentative peace he has achieved among warring Republican factions in the Congress.
The first test will be to get Congress to pass a budget, and Ryan risks infuriating conservatives if he is forced to compromise with Democrats to avoid a government shutdown, as critics accused Boehner of doing.
“The challenge for Ryan is similar to the challenge Boehner faced. The Republican base, at this point, really doesn’t like its own leadership," said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
"So just being speaker may eventually take a toll on Ryan’s popularity among Republicans,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Alistair Bell)