House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Wednesday announced he would not be running for reelection, citing the need to spend more time with his family and assuring the GOP that he is leaving them in a strong position.
“I have given this job everything I have,” said Ryan. “We’re going to have a great record to run on.”
Ryan has not always seen eye to eye with President Trump, but his support was crucial in helping Trump accomplish his promised tax overhaul last year.
“Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man,” tweeted Trump, “and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!"
Ryan spoke privately with colleagues Wednesday morning and made phone calls to Trump and Pence before making a public announcement about his retirement later that day. He promised to remain active in his role until January when his term ends.
Possible successors for the position of House Speaker include Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA). Among those most likely to win Ryan’s seat are Republican Robin Vos, current speaker for Wisconsin’s state assembly, and Democrat Randy Bryce.
“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 Ryan aide Brendan Buck. “While he did not seek this 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.”
As author JK Rowling once said, “Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it.”
Paul Ryan was pressured into running for House Speaker in 2015 after the abrupt departure of John Boehner. He was clear about not wanting the position, but saw that his party was struggling and knew that he was in a position to help.
“You realize something when you take this job,” Ryan told reporters. “It’s a big job with a lot riding on you…You realize you hold the office for just a small part of our history. So you better make the most of it.”
Ryan’s behavior and attitude mark him as a patriot and an altruist - traits that have become rare among lawmakers. His retirement is a blow for Republicans, especially in advance of midterms, but nobody can say that he hasn’t earned it.
Editor's note: Ryan was one of the few in Congress with common sense and a clear head. Governor of Wisconsin could easily be in his future.