U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that he won’t seek re-election, an announcement that rocked the 2018 campaign cycle and signaled a close to the twenty-year congressional career of one of Wisconsin’s defining 21st century political figures. Ryan, R-Janesville, told reporters that he will serve the remainder of his current term but will not seek another one in the November election.
Ryan’s departure deprives the chaotic Republican House caucus of its singular unifying figure and sets up a contentious succession scramble that will likely pit Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise against each other.
Ryan had attracted multiple credible Democratic challengers back home in his Wisconsin district, including Randy Bryce, better known as “Iron Stache”.
After Ryan’s retirement announcement came down, Bryce celebrated with a message declaring: “We repealed Paul Ryan! Now it’s time to replace him.”
(Bryce’s “Repeal and Replace Paul Ryan” slogan is a riff on the empty Republican promise to “repeal and replace” the Patient Protection Act.)
Bryce has embarrassed Ryan by out-raising him in the first quarter of 2018.
“We outraised Speaker Ryan in the first 3 months of 2018 by $1.75 million! Incredible! And unlike Ryan, we aren’t taking corporate PAC money or cashing $500,000 checks from the Kochs,” Bryce noted yesterday.
Democrats said that Ryan’s decision to retire showed that the House was not only in play, but ripe for a Democratic takeover…. and that Ryan knows it.
“Speaker Ryan sees what is coming in November, and is calling it quits rather than standing behind a House Republican agenda to increase healthcare costs for middle class families while slashing Social Security and Medicare to pay for his handouts to the richest and largest corporations. Unfortunately, for the many vulnerable House Republicans that Paul Ryan is abandoning, his historically unpopular and failed policies will hang over their reelections like a dark cloud,” said Democratic Congressional Committee Campaign spokeman Tyler Law.
“Stay tuned for more retirements as Republicans increasingly realize that their midterm prospects are doomed,” Law concluded.
As if on cue, another Republican promptly announced his retirement. Dennis Ross of Florida, who has served four terms, has decided to call it quits too.
“Eight years takes its toll on you. When you feel like a stranger in your hometown, it’s time to say, ‘There’s got to be an exit strategy at some point,” he told the Tampa Bay Times.
Thirty-nine Republicans have now decided to retire, and as the DCCC noted, there could be more Republicans heading for the exits very soon.