House Speaker Paul Ryan announced today that he is not running for re-election. Ryan began his remarks by saying that when you become Speaker of the House, you realize that it’s only for a short period in the nation’s history.
“You all know that I did not seek this job,” Ryan said. “I took it reluctantly, but I have given it everything that I have, and I have no regrets whatsoever about accepting this responsibility.”
Saying that the job of Speaker is all-time consuming, Ryan said that it interfered with his family obligations.
“That’s why today I am announcing that this year will be my last one as a member of the House,” Ryan said. “To be clear, I am not resigning. I will serve my full term as I was elected to do.”
In his remarks, Ryan talked about the effect of serving as the Republican leader for another term would have on his family.
“What I realize is, if I am here for one more term, my kids will only have ever known me as a weekend dad,” Ryan said. “I just can’t let that happen.”
During the 2016 race for president, Ryan’s name was frequently mentioned as a possible candidate to unite the Republican Party. However, Ryan declined to run and often cited his young family as a reason.
In his remarks, Ryan said the two biggest achievements of his time as Speaker of the House were tax reform and re-building the nation’s military. “These I see as lasting victories that will make our country more prosperous and more secure for decades to come,” Ryan said.
Ryan also thanked the voters in Wisconsin for electing him to the House of Representatives.
“I also want to thank the people of southern Wisconsin for placing their trust in me as their representative for the last 20 years,” Ryan said. “I have tried to bring as much Wisconsin to Washington as I can in that time. It’s been a wild ride, but it’s been a journey well worth taking to be able to do my part to strengthen the American Idea.”
Ryan was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, replacing former Congressman Mark Neumann. In October 2015, Ryan replaced Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House. Ryan was a reluctant candidate for the position, but was chosen by his colleagues as a compromise between the moderate ahd hardline factions.
Ryan’s departure means Wisconsin Republicans find themselves defending an open congressional seat that already has one well-funded Democrat, Randy Bryce, running, as well as another candidate, teacher and school board member Cathy Myers.
Now speculation will begin on both sides about candidates jumping into the race, with Republicans needing to recruit a solid candidate to hold the seat. State Sen. Van Wanggard (R-Racine) has already announced he is not running, according to Jay Weber on WISN. Possible candidates include Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Burlington), state Sen. Dave Craig (R-Town of Vernon), Assembly Speaker Pro-Tem Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva), Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. Another possible candidate is Bryan Steil, a member of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.
Vos issued a statement today on Ryan’s retirement that did not mention a potential run. “Paul has been perhaps the best congressman Wisconsin has ever sent to Washington and also one of the best speakers to have gaveled Congress into session,” Vos said. “His commitment to serving the people of Wisconsin and the United States is unparalleled.”
“I am happy for my friend and his family, but sad for the 1st Congressional District and our country because men like him don’t come around often,” Vos said.
More prominent Democrats may enter the race as well. Former Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) represented the district in the House of Representatives after winning a special election to succeed Congressman Les Aspin when he became the Defense Secretary for President Bill Clinton.
Nationally, Ryan’s departure signals Republicans are not likely to hold onto control of the House of Representatives after this November’s elections. Other congressional retirements could be expected as a result.
As a member of Congress and when he ran for Vice President on the Republican ticket with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in 2012, Ryan was an advocate for bringing entitlement spending under control. With his departure, neither party has a prominent leader on that issue.