House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), the third-most powerful person in the United States government, is not running for re-election.
Washington gossip site Axios reported on rumors that Speaker Ryan was resigning early Wednesday morning, following a hushed closed-door meeting with House Republicans. The Associated Press confirmed those rumors after Ryan’s spokesperson announced the Wisconsin Republican’s retirement in a public statement.
“After nearly 20 years in the House, the speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father,” said Brendan Buck, an adviser to Paul Ryan. “While he did not seek the position, he told his colleagues that serving as speaker has been the professional honor of his life, and he thanked them for the trust they placed in him.”
Ryan’s retirement from Congress comes just seven months before a crucial midterm election in which Democrats are expected to make big gains and possibly retake majorities in both the House and Senate. Ryan was set to face a tough re-election battle against a Democratic challenger, whether it be “Iron Stache” Randy Bryce or public school teacher Cathy Myers in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. For context, Democrat Conor Lamb’s recent surprise win in Pennsylvania’s conservative 18th Congressional District, which the Cook Political Report rated as R+11, meaning Republicans are favored to win there by 11 points. Ryan’s district is just R+5.
With Paul Ryan officially exiting Congress in January of 2019, that means his plans to dismantle social safety net programs like Social Security and Medicare have also been scuttled.
The battle for who will become the next Speaker of the House while Republicans still control the House of Representatives will likely be between either House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana).
Michael Boone is a freelance journalist and columnist writing about politics, government, race, and media. He graduated from Texas Southern University’s School of Communication, and lives in Houston’s Third Ward.