Speaker Exits as Midterms Heat Up
On Wednesday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that he will not be seeking reelection in 2018.
Ryan’s retirement comes as a surprise to everyone ranging from his colleagues to political correspondents across Washington. In an interview with John Dickerson earlier this year in January, Paul noted that he “had no plans of going anywhere any time soon.”
In a news conference, Ryan told reporters that “it [Speaker of the House] is a big job with a lot riding on you.” He also added that the role had detached him from his family, especially with his three children. Sources close to Ryan also said that the job had become increasingly frustrating, partly because of President Trump.
The President has oftentimes been at odds with Ryan, calling him “a mess on the debt ceiling” and “a weak and ineffective leader.” However, with news of the longtime Congressional leader retiring, President Trump tweeted that “he will leave a legacy that nobody can question.”
A member of Congress since 1999, Ryan rose to prominence on Capitol Hill when he was selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate in the 2012 presidential election. He later stepped up to become the House Speaker after his predecessor, John Boehner, retired in 2015.
In his time as Speaker, Ryan has had to become the mediary between centrist Republicans while withstanding pressure from members of the House Freedom Caucus, the farther-right faction of the Republican Party. The Speaker has often been in the middle of infighting amongst members of his own Party on key issues such as healthcare.
Despite failing to coordinate with Senate to successfully repeal and replace Obamacare, a long-time promise amongst Republicans, Ryan was able to deliver on tax reform. House Freedom Caucus founder, Jim Jordan (R-OH), speculates that the Speaker is stepping down because “he has accomplished one of the biggest focuses of his time in Congress.”
Ryan will now join 24 other Congressional Republicans to retire and not seek reelection for the upcoming term. Potential contenders to fill in the role include current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA). In order to make that decision; however, they fight an uphill battle and retain seats in the midterm elections beginning next year in closely contested districts around the country.