How Paul Ryan’s retirement will have a huge midterm impact on the Republican Party

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan

US House speaker Paul Ryan has announced he won’t seek reelection in November. And the move spells disaster for Republicans in the House already facing tough midterm elections.

Ryan leaves open seat for Dems to claim

Ryan’s announced retirement has sent political shockwaves from Washington all the way back to his Wisconsin congressional district.

Read on...

Ryan’s likely Democratic opponent, union ironworker Randy Bryce, was already within single digits of Ryan in an internal poll. He also raised an impressive $2.1m in the first three months of 2018. And Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed Bryce last fall.

Still, unseating a sitting speaker of the House is nearly unprecedented in US history. So without Ryan in the race, Bryce stands a much greater chance of winning the seat.

So far, the pro-Republican field is unimpressive. Paul Nehlen, who has called himself “pro-white” and frequently targets Jewish media figures and Jews generally, is one of only two announced candidates.

The other, Nick Polce, served in the US Army special forces and is a first-time candidate.

With less than two months left before the 1 June filing deadline, the GOP is likely to put up a more mainstream challenger.

Ryan’s retirement means GOP all but gives up the House

Ryan’s seat, however, isn’t the only one in doubt. His retirement suggests that, at the highest levels of Republican leadership, conservatives hold out little hope of keeping the House in GOP hands.

If Ryan thought he could hold all but a slim majority, he would’ve stuck around. But now, donors seem to know he’s given up hope.

The focus now shifts to the Senate, where majority leader Mitch McConnell holds a slim advantage. McConnell had already focused his fundraising on the idea that Democrats could take the House.

Ryan leaves behind unfinished business

Republicans have long campaigned to repeal Obamacare and decimate what remains of the social safety net — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Ryan managed neither.

His last major achievement did tee up both. The massive $1.5tn tax cut Ryan helped ram through Congress will blow a giant hole in the budget. And Republicans will surely demand that Congress balance the books on the backs of working families.

What’s next?

Ryan’s retirement will set up a months-long fight over the speaker’s gavel. As Politico reported, House majority leader Kevin McCarthy and majority whip Steve Scalise were already angling for the job in case Ryan retired.

Neither man has a clear shot at the title, and the fight itself could prove bruising to the party.

As far as Ryan’s concerned:

Ryan also ran for vice president with Mitt Romney in 2012. And his close friends say he still has eyes on higher office.

While Ryan could sit out the 2020 election, a damaged Trump could prove an irresistible target for a GOP primary challenger. Ohio Governor John Kasich has already hinted he’s considering a run. And Ryan and Kasich are among the few Republicans with the national stature to take on a sitting president.

Ryan’s main advantage? His deep ties with the Koch brothers. Charles and David Koch, right-wing libertarian billionaires who lead a political donor network, have huge influence in the Republican Party.

In the meantime, Ryan can make lots of money on the lecture circuit, and will likely have his pick of highly-paid jobs in the private sector.

Get Involved

Read more about the two progressive Democratic challengers who have declared their run for Ryan’s seat: Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers. (So far, no independent progressive has thrown their hat in the ring.) You can also find Bryce (@IronStache) and Myers (@CathyMyersWI) on Twitter.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed