When House Speaker Paul Ryan retires in January, three people are expected to run to replace him, but Republican women are wondering why all three are white men, CNN reports.
No Republican has put their name forward to replace Ryan, but three of the top members of the GOP are expected to run: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan of Ohio.
CNN found in almost two dozen interviews with current and former legislators and aides that members of the GOP have expressed concerns that the leadership is overwhelmingly white and male and about the lingering taboo against discussing gender and racial diversity in Congress.
Many hope that the midterm elections will provide the opportunity to diversify the party, and therefore give female and minority Republicans a better shot at a high-ranking position.
One Republican woman in particular, conference chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, stands out as a candidate for a top leadership spot.
"I hope that Cathy will step up and run for speaker," former Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., told CNN. "I hope she'll do it. I hope she runs. I say that not because I am opposed to one of the fellas being the speaker, but I think Cathy has earned the right to be among the people who are seriously discussed."
The director of Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics, Debbie Walsh, added, "Sure, there aren't as many women. There aren't as many in leadership positions, but she is the chair of the Republican conference and you would like to think in at least a list of potential speakers."
Women make up less than 10 percent of the GOP conference, while the Democratic Party is over 30 percent women.
Only two women chair House committees, both of them Republicans: Reps. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, who heads the education committee, and Susan Brooks of Indiana, who heads the ethics committee. Tennessee's Rep. Diane Black stepped down as chairwoman of the the House Budget Committee to prepare to run for governor.
"There aren't enough of us and we've tried to do some recruiting, but again, when you look at the farm team, whether it is women in the statehouse or city council or women mayors across the nation, many of them have to be talked into it, as opposed to just feeling like they have something to offer," said Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., who is set to leave Congress next year.
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