What's behind Paul Ryan's sudden exit

Speaker Paul Ryan's announcement that he is not seeking re-election shocked a Republican Party already facing severe ...

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 1:28 AM
Updated: Apr 12, 2018 1:28 AM

Speaker Paul Ryan's announcement that he is not seeking re-election shocked a Republican Party already facing severe midterm headwinds. His decision will drive down morale in the GOP conference -- and perhaps convince other fence-sitting members who have yet to decide to call it quits themselves. These additional open seats would increase the likelihood that Democrats will take over the House.

Despite some media fawning over his goofy opponent Randy Bryce, Ryan was not going to lose re-election in his Wisconsin district, although it now becomes a slightly less viable hold for the GOP than it would have been with Ryan in the race.

Ryan's move accelerates a GOP leadership battle between California's Kevin McCarthy and Louisiana's Steve Scalise, both able men who are well-liked by their colleagues (it feels like McCarthy's race to lose at this point). No matter who becomes the next Republican leader, they will sit atop a smaller conference that is likely to be in the minority.

Despite the chaos his departure will cause for the party, there are obviously larger issues at play for Ryan that convinced him now is the time to go.

1. Being Speaker of the House is a miserable job. Ryan was reluctantly thrust into the Speaker's office because the last guy was tired of being miserable with it. While the Republicans hold the majority, a sizable chunk of them are reliably recalcitrant and make governing difficult (there are members of the Democratic minority that have voted the Trump position at a higher rate than some of Ryan's Republicans). It shouldn't be this hard when one party controls everything, but it is.

2. Democrats are likely to win the House. Although the Democrats are making it harder than it should be for the Republicans to stay in power, the enthusiasm and gender gaps, combined with historical trends, make it likely that Democrats will win the House in November. Speaker Ryan, had he sought re-election, would have been asking for his constituents' votes and then perhaps resigning shortly after winning if the Republicans lost their majority status (as Newt Gingrich did in 1998 after losing a number of seats but keeping the majority, and Dennis Hastert did after losing the House in 2007).

Sometimes we forget -- congressional leaders have districts and constituents to think about, too. Ryan's deference to the people of Wisconsin, by not asking them to vote for him when it was very likely he wouldn't serve out his term, is an honorable move.

3. He achieved his dream of tax reform. Ryan is a policy wonk at heart, with a lifelong belief that lower taxes are better for America's working families. He has been a member of Congress for two decades, and his crowning achievement was holding the House together in December for the sweeping tax cuts.

4. Paul Ryan is a good dad. Ryan has dedicated his adult life to public service, and along the way built a wonderful family. "Ryan has said his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all died of heart attacks in their 50s," according to news reports, which is why he "has never smoked, 'works out five times a week, eats healthy, gets regular checkups, avoids sweets and limits alcohol consumption.'" There's no doubt Speaker Ryan has spent less time with his three children than he would want, and surely his family's medical history weighed on his mind. I witnessed firsthand his devotion to his wife and kids riding a bus with him through Ohio during his time running for Vice-President with Mitt Romney. During his press conference, Ryan said he was concerned that, if he did not retire, his kids would only know him "as a weekend father." That's role model material for the rest of America's dads.

Ryan's announcement will signal to Republican donors and activists that the House is most likely lost, which should refocus everyone's attention on holding the US Senate. Losing one chamber will introduce a high level of policy and investigatory paralysis to the Trump administration; losing both would feel like getting sucked into the tenth level of hell for the President.

We haven't seen the last of Paul Ryan. He's 48 and I'd bet dollars to donuts he's a future presidential candidate. Leaving now helps his family and will give him some space to prep a run for The White House sometime down the road.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 578494

Reported Deaths: 9202
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion798821282
Lake43601664
Allen31380537
Hamilton27675303
St. Joseph26409369
Elkhart23873336
Vanderburgh18192211
Tippecanoe16999116
Porter14183158
Johnson14120277
Hendricks13560236
Madison10312209
Vigo10297171
Clark9952128
Monroe8933105
Delaware8638129
LaPorte8589153
Kosciusko777375
Howard7712136
Warrick624990
Hancock621995
Bartholomew616094
Floyd5971105
Wayne5811155
Grant5716108
Dubois533570
Boone523167
Morgan501485
Marshall487084
Henry483262
Cass464959
Noble453956
Dearborn443343
Jackson410145
Shelby394376
Lawrence374172
Clinton359838
Gibson348556
DeKalb333063
Montgomery329150
Knox323339
Harrison317242
Miami305043
Steuben300740
Adams291635
Ripley287145
Wabash286345
Whitley286324
Huntington278757
Putnam278046
Jasper274933
White262038
Daviess255671
Jefferson242738
Fayette239248
Decatur237382
Greene229259
Posey225626
Wells225146
LaGrange222061
Scott212837
Clay212432
Randolph204940
Jennings188635
Sullivan185831
Spencer176917
Fountain175125
Washington170216
Starke169241
Jay160521
Fulton156829
Owen155536
Carroll150115
Orange146333
Rush145618
Vermillion141633
Perry141327
Franklin139333
Parke12718
Tipton126232
Pike111325
Blackford105122
Pulaski93636
Newton87820
Brown84428
Benton83010
Crawford7229
Martin68013
Warren6427
Switzerland6035
Union6033
Ohio4547
Unassigned0372

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 807293

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin95508704
Cuyahoga80262964
Hamilton59783436
Montgomery40858396
Summit32488697
Lucas29495575
Butler29100225
Stark24048388
Warren18471135
Lorain17563207
Mahoning16430334
Lake14941134
Clermont14703103
Delaware1349574
Licking12353132
Trumbull12096297
Fairfield1184280
Greene11338132
Medina10815164
Clark10334261
Wood9742153
Allen9355126
Miami867373
Portage8628104
Richland8604111
Marion7231112
Tuscarawas6987172
Columbiana6922124
Pickaway689050
Wayne6599162
Muskingum648939
Erie5729117
Hancock529088
Ross518287
Scioto508753
Geauga469955
Darke450589
Ashtabula431467
Union422327
Mercer419485
Lawrence417051
Sandusky413262
Auglaize407059
Shelby404621
Seneca404354
Huron399738
Jefferson391565
Belmont378140
Putnam359370
Washington357039
Athens35469
Madison331128
Knox329022
Ashland322538
Fulton319043
Defiance311476
Crawford306769
Preble306434
Brown289617
Logan284828
Ottawa275534
Clinton272741
Williams265757
Highland255618
Jackson250743
Guernsey234625
Champaign233727
Fayette218929
Morrow21754
Holmes215562
Perry215317
Henry206147
Hardin200932
Coshocton194517
Van Wert193744
Wyandot186948
Gallia186226
Adams160815
Pike160116
Hocking157423
Carroll143216
Paulding137521
Noble116138
Meigs99021
Monroe93827
Harrison8428
Morgan75826
Vinton64013
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 29°
Angola
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 27°
Huntington
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 27°
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 29°
Lima
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 28°
Light Snow Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events