Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in November, ending a brief stint atop the House and signaling the peril that the Republican majority faces in the midterm elections.
Mr. Ryan said he will serve until the end of this Congress in January, which will mark 20 years in Congress. He insisted he will be “leaving this majority in good hands with what I believe is a very bright future.”
But his retirement announcement is sure to kick off a succession battle for the leadership of the House Republican Conference, likely between the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, and the House majority whip, Steve Scalise of Louisiana. And it could also trigger another wave of retirements among Republicans not eager to face angry voters in the fall and taking their cue from Mr. Ryan.
As if on cue, Representative Dennis Ross, Republican of Florida, announced his retirement an hour after Mr. Ryan.
As Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin writes, Ryan sees the writing on the wall in November:
…this is a flashing light to donors and candidates on both sides. For Republican money-men, the message is: Don’t throw away cash trying to save the House. (One wonders whether Ryan, previously a strong fundraiser, will still be able to get donors to open their wallets when he’s abandoning ship.) For Democrats, it will be further encouragement to add to the record number of candidates and to get on board for a Democratic sweep. In a wave year with the GOP leaderless, why not throw your hat into the ring?…
…Instead of achieving the entire GOP agenda, Ryan will leave a besmirched legacy defined by his decision to back, enable and defend Trump, no matter how objectionable Trump’s rhetoric and conduct. Ryan has come to embody the nasty scourge of tribalism that dominates our politics. The inability to separate partisan loyalty from patriotic obligation — or to assess the interests of the country and the need to defend democratic norms and institutions — is proving to be the downfall of the Republican Party and the principle threat to our liberal (small “l”) democracy. And no one is more responsible for this than Ryan. No one. [Pols emphasis]
For Colorado Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) who were already looking at a difficult re-election, this cannot be encouraging news.