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Paul Ryan endorses GOP front-runner Steil for his house seat, vows fundraising help

Key Points
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan just endorsed his former aide Bryan Steil in the race for his own congressional seat.
  • Ryan is preparing to help the Republican front-runner raise enough money to compete in what's turning into a crowded field.
  • "Paul is going to do everything he can to help Bryan win this race," a source with direct knowledge of the matter tells CNBC on the condition of anonymity.
Rep. Paul Ryan and Bryan Steil
Source: Bryan Steil | Twitter

House Speaker Paul Ryan just endorsed his former aide Bryan Steil in the race for his own congressional seat. He is preparing to help the Republican front-runner raise enough money to compete in what's turned into a crowded field.

In an expected move Monday, Ryan officially backed Steil for Wisconsin's 1st congressional district, a seat the speaker has held for almost two decades. Ryan is retiring from Congress after the midterm elections.

Ryan is now planning to help raise money and stump for Steil. The primary will be held on Aug. 14. Steil is competing against five other Republicans. Two Democrats are also in the hunt for the seat.

Ryan's retirement has made the district competitive for the first time in years. Sabato's Crystal Ball calls it a "toss up." Other leading nonpartisan handicappers Cook Political Report and Inside Elections both rate it as a "lean Republican" race.

"Paul is going to do everything he can to help Bryan win this race," a source with direct knowledge of the matter told CNBC on condition of anonymity. Ryan and his team will "be there to support his team with events, fundraisers and whatever other help they need," the source added.

A spokesman for Ryan declined to comment.

Steil's campaign said it was proud to call Ryan one of its supporters.

"This is a Wisconsin based campaign and we are proud to have the backing of Speaker Ryan as we continue to earn the trust and confidence of the voters of Southeastern Wisconsin," a campaign spokesman said in a statement.

Power fundraiser

Ryan's help is significant because of the house speaker's fundraising prowess and juggernaut of a political operation.

The speaker's joint fundraising committee, Team Ryan, is still active as he travels the country assisting Republican candidates in vulnerable House districts. It is ranked No. 1 in the total amount of campaign cash that it's raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

So far, the committee has brought in $55 million, far exceeding the second-ranked Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee that supports President Donald Trump's 2020 ambitions and the Republican National Committee.

Steil for his part has found a way to stay in the game despite the five other GOP candidates vying for Ryan's seat.

In the first week of his campaign in April, Steil raised $250,000 through a mix of small and large donors.

However, the two Democratic candidates are dominating the district in the fundraising battle.

Democratic front-runner Randy Bryce, has raised more than $4 million and has $2 million on hand. Cathy Myers, the other Democrat running for the seat, has raked in $752,252 since she entered the race.

Ryan hailed Steil as "an optimistic and forward-looking conservative, who wants to solve big problems, empower people, and expand economic opportunities," in a statement released Monday.