On Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that he would not be running for re-election in the November midterms.
While rumors of his impending departure have been circulating for months, Ryan had previously denied the implications that he was preparing to leave office. However, it seems that those denials were all for naught.
“This year will be my last year as a member of the House,” Ryan said during a news conference on Wednesday. “To be clear, I am not resigning.”
President Trump offered apparent words of support to Ryan following the announcement.
Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2018
Of course, it’s very likely that Trump’s presence played a significant factor in Ryan’s decision to step away from politics.
As Axios reports, “Friends say that after Ryan passed tax reform, his longtime dream, he was ready to step out of a job that has become endlessly frustrating, in part because of President Trump.”
It’s also probable that Trump himself isn’t terribly pleased with the news, considering that Ryan assured the president in December that he would not be leaving his position.
According to the Seattle Times in December of 2017:
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump called Ryan and said he’d be unhappy if Ryan left Congress. “The speaker assured the president that those were not accurate reports and that they look forward to working together for a long time to come,” Sanders said.
That said, Ryan seems willing to make nice until his departure and has accepted Trump’s endorsement of his character via Twitter.
Ryan’s retiring. If he didn’t want to accept Trump’s character testimonial, he wouldn’t. pic.twitter.com/wn88xAf53Z
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) April 11, 2018
Now that Ryan has passed his wildly unpopular tax reform bill, however, it seems that the jig is up, and he’s “accomplished” all that he was hoping to accomplish as House Speaker. (Plus, I’m sure the lure of a largely Trump-free daily existence was becoming more and more difficult to resist).
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee seems to think that Ryan’s departure does not bode well for the remaining Republicans who will be running for re-election in November.
“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,” the DCCC said in a statement to Huffington Post. “Stay tuned for more retirements as Republicans increasingly realize that their midterm prospects are doomed.”
It is likely that Ryan will be replaced by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Majority Whip Steve Scalise.