Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has cleared the way for Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to succeed John Boehner as the next Speaker.

Ryan this week said he’s not interested in becoming Speaker, preferring to head the influential Ways and Means Committee in 2015. Boehner has repeatedly said he’s not retiring at the end of this Congress, but that hasn’t tamped down speculation that the Ohio Republican is considering retirement.

The Hill recently surveyed dozens of Republicans in the House and the consensus was that the only lawmaker who could defeat Cantor is Ryan.

The wonky Budget Committee chairman, however, said Thursday that he does not want to be Speaker. Ryan is expected to lead the Ways and Means next year, with few expecting the 2012 vice presidential nominee to launch a White House bid.

Cantor has a better shot at the top House spot for a number of reasons, according to political science professor Jack Pitney.

They include: “Having been a member of the leadership for several years now, establishing national name identification, being able to raise money, showing that he can excel at both the inside game and the outside game, according to Pitney, who teaches at Claremont McKenna College.