Paul Ryan frowns
Paul Ryan frowns

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Mr. Speak­er.

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After Ryan’s retire­ment announce­ment came down, Bryce cel­e­brat­ed with a mes­sage declar­ing: “We repealed Paul Ryan!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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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