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Gregg Harper

As Paul Ryan makes his bid for speaker official, he faces a risky road ahead

Paul Ryan

Poised to become the next House speaker, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan finds himself in a position he once seemed eager to avoid: leading an unforgiving GOP majority that is not completely sure it wants him.

Late Thursday, Ryan in a letter to colleagues made it official: “I am ready and eager to be our speaker.”

Risks loom large for the boyish Wisconsin congressman, who until recently had enjoyed a lengthy run as a popular GOP figure, but who nevertheless failed to secure all the conditions he demanded as trade-offs for taking the leadership job.

Instead, Ryan now appears willing to settle for less than full-throated support from the conservative base as he tries...