Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanLieu rips Ryan after Waffle House shooting: ‘When will you stop silencing us?’ To succeed in Syria, Democrats should not resist Trump policy House Republicans prepare to battle for leadership slots MORE’s (R-Wis.) decision to retire from Congress has set off more alarm bells for Republicans worried about whether they can hold the House in the midterm elections. 

The ripple effects of Ryan’s announcement will not be clear for months. But in the early hours after the news broke, some Republicans framed the news as both the latest sign that Republicans are headed for the minority as well as a spark that could set off more GOP retirements. 

“It’s just another illustration of the harbinger of things to come. There’s no Republican who’s optimistic about the November elections,” said Terry Sullivan, a GOP strategist who ran Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP Senate candidates trade barbs in brutal Indiana primary Students gather outside White House after walkout to protest gun violence Overnight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes MORE’s (R-Fla.) presidential campaign. “It’s the 300th example that there is a wave coming.” 

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Ryan’s retirement had been rumored for months, but the Speaker’s Wednesday announcement caught most in Washington off guard. In a press conference explaining his decision, the House Speaker attempted to brush aside the idea that his retirement would have any impact on the GOP’s chances of retaining the House. 


Instead, Ryan framed his decision as a personal one, characterizing himself as a reluctant Speaker who just accomplished a major victory on tax reform and now wants to spend more time with his family.

“I really do not believe that whether I stay or go in 2019 is going to affect a person’s individual race for Congress,” Ryan told reporters.

“If we do our jobs, which we are, we are going to be fine as a majority,“ he said.

Rep. Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversHouse Republicans prepare to battle for leadership slots Farenthold resigned ahead of ethics ruling against him GOP Rep. Dent will leave Congress in May MORE, the Ohio Republican tasked with running the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), echoed Ryan in a statement, saying that the GOP’s “mission to hold the House” continues “unabated.”

Democrats, buoyed by special election upsets and President TrumpDonald John TrumpClinton takes swipe at 'false equivalency' in media coverage of 2016 election Trump asked Netanyahu if he actually cares about peace: report Official: Trump to urge North Korea to dismantle nuclear program in return for sanctions relief MORE’s low approval rating, were already feeling good about their chances of taking back the 23 seats they need to regain the House.

Now they’re framing Ryan’s retirement as more proof that the GOP is bracing for a brutal midterm cycle.

“Speaker Ryan sees what is coming in November, and is calling it quits rather than standing behind [the] House Republican agenda,” said Tyler Law, a spokesman with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a statement. “Stay tuned for more retirements as Republicans increasingly realize that their midterm prospects are doomed.”

Nonpartisan analysts agree that Ryan’s retirement sends a signal that Republicans will struggle to keep the House. 

Kyle Kondik, a political analyst with the University of Virginia’s Sabato’s Crystal Ball, wrote Wednesday that “many will view Ryan’s retirement as a concession that Republicans are resigned to losing the House in the fall.”

“The Ryan exit is another bad sign for GOP House prospects and a sign that Democrats probably have the inside track for taking control of the House, at least right now,” added Kondik, who still sees the race for the House as a toss-up between the two parties. 

The most immediate effect of Ryan’s decision could be felt on other Republicans weighing retirement.

Rep. Dennis RossDennis Alan RossLoss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP Rep. Ross won't seek reelection MORE (R-Fla.) publicly announced his own retirement just hours after Ryan.

Ross told The Hill that he found out about Ryan’s retirement as he was meeting with top aides preparing to deliver his own retirement news to his staff. In an interview with CNN, Ross cited a frustration with the political climate as one reason he chose to step aside.

“As we continue to see the polarization in our society over politics, we fail to understand the fundamentals of the process,” he said.

Ryan’s decision could convince other Republicans to head out the door. So far, more than 40 House Republicans are not seeking reelection to the House next year — the highest figure in more than 25 years, according to Pew Research.

“If the leader of Republicans in Congress doesn’t want to be there, what is the reason they should be?” Sullivan said. “That says more about where Congress is at, and where the Republican Party is at, than anything else.”

Dave Wasserman, an analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, tweeted Wednesday that there 58 GOP lawmakers in the 19 states where the candidate filing deadlines are still to come. Lawmakers in those states could retire while still giving their party time to find a new option.    

Any additional retirements could expand the House battlefield even more. The retirement announcements from Ryan and Ross prompted analysts to move those races in favor of Democrats.

But former New York GOP Rep. Tom Reynolds, who once ran the NRCC, told The Hill that outside factors have less of an impact on members considering retirement.

“I look at retirement as a personal decision — looking at the individual itself, the family, and then other considerations,” he said.

Ryan’s retirement could also impact the GOP’s fundraising operations, which have boomed under his leadership.

Ryan’s fundraising committee had just announced that it raised $54 million in the past 15 months, sending $40 million of that to the NRCC. The Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC allied with Ryan and House leadership, has raised $41 million this cycle through that same period.

“The message to donors, activists and other Republicans is ‘I don’t have confidence in this,’ ” Scott Jennings, a GOP strategist and former aide to President George W. Bush, said on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

“Now everyone, I think, will probably focus on the Senate,” Jennings said.

Reynolds, the former NRCC chairman, said the House GOP leadership’s fundraising network is strong enough to overcome losing Ryan.

“It has to have an impact when [the Speaker] is no longer intending to seek reelection because some of that money rallies around your vision as a leader of the conference,” he said. “But money has not been the challenge of getting people reelected.”

Zack Roday, Ryan’s former political spokesman, told The Hill that Ryan’s decision to serve out his term would be an important one.

“He has incredible assets that will be so helpful to the Republican Congress, and him not running for reelection does not take those inherent advantages away,” he said.

Art Pope, a major GOP donor in North Carolina, said Republicans’ fate in the midterms has more to do with other factors, such as Trump. 

“What is more impactful on the support of donors and activists and on whether the Republicans have the majority in Congress is whether the threat of tariffs or a trade war has an impact on the economy,” Pope told The Hill.

“There are much more graver concerns than Speaker Ryan making an understandable decision at this point in his life,” Pope added.

Republicans retiring and not running for higher office

Paul Ryan (Wis.)
Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteComey memo fallout is mostly fizzle Impeaching Rosenstein? Some Republicans are talking about it Trump claims vindication after release of Comey memos MORE (Va.)
Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingOvernight Finance: Wells Fargo hit with B fine | Top lawmakers want execs punished | Banks cash in on tax law | GOP chair blasts FDIC over data security House plans May vote to repeal auto-lending guidance Hensarling, Waters say Wells Fargo execs should be punished after record fine MORE (Texas)
Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenIs Paul Ryan the latest sign of crumbling Republican Party? Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Sadly, fiscal restraint is no longer a core principle of the GOP MORE (N.J.)
Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyComey memo fallout is mostly fizzle Top Pruitt aide requested backdate to resignation letter: report Trump claims vindication after release of Comey memos MORE (S.C.)
Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaCalifornia Republicans seek turnout boost to avert midterm disaster Is Paul Ryan the latest sign of crumbling Republican Party? Lawmakers question FBI director on encryption MORE (Calif.)
Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonThe Hill’s Morning Report: Michael Cohen’s big day in court 'Diamond & Silk' offer chance for bipartisan push back on social media censorship Republicans express doubts that Ryan can stay on as Speaker MORE (Texas)
Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithOvernight Tech: Dem presses FTC for tougher rules on Facebook data | Poll: Americans want more regs on tech | DOJ reportedly looking into AT&T, Verizon collusion | Twitter bans Kaspersky ads Overnight Finance: Wells Fargo hit with B fine | Top lawmakers want execs punished | Banks cash in on tax law | GOP chair blasts FDIC over data security Overnight Cybersecurity: Fallout from Comey memos | IG reportedly investigating memos over classified info | DNC sues Russia, Trump campaign | GOP chair blasts FDIC over data security MORE (Texas)
Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller With Ryan out, let’s blow up the process for selecting the next Speaker Retiring GOP rep 'not prepared' to support Trump reelection bid MORE (Pa.)
Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenAmong record number of female candidates, three times as many are Democrats as GOP Cuba set to pass power from Castro family Bipartisan group of lawmakers condemn anti-Semitic attacks on Parkland students MORE (Fla.)
David Reichert (Wash.)
Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiTiberi endorses would-be successor ahead of GOP primary Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Dems look to Ohio for another election upset MORE (Ohio)*
Frank LoBiondoFrank Alo LoBiondoDems push Chao on aviation oversight after death on Southwest flight Dem calls for aviation safety hearing after death on Southwest flight Is Paul Ryan the latest sign of crumbling Republican Party? MORE (N.J.)
Lynn JenkinsLynn Haag JenkinsLoss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Tax writers offer bipartisan proposal to improve IRS Mental health groups push for policy changes after shooting MORE (Kan.)
Dennis Ross (Fla.)
John DuncanJohn James DuncanLoss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Ethics Committee to expand campaign finance investigation of Tennessee Republican House Oversight a gavel no one wants MORE Jr. (Tenn.)
Sam JohnsonSamuel (Sam) Robert JohnsonLoss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Watchdog: Social Security acting head hasn't been authorized to serve for months Five things to watch for in Texas primaries MORE (Texas)
Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeRepublican lawmaker introduces new cyber deterrence bill Lawmakers question FBI director on encryption Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans MORE (Texas)
Dave TrottDavid Alan TrottLoss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Science group reserves nearly M in airtime to boost Dems in three states House GOP Appropriations chairman calls it quits MORE (Mich.)
Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloRepublicans express doubts that Ryan can stay on as Speaker Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans GOP looks to reduce spending after hearing criticism back home MORE (Pa.)
Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksArizona GOP tinkers with election rules with an eye on McCain's seat More than 40 Dem House challengers outraising GOP incumbents Cook Political Report shifts seven House races toward Dems MORE (Ariz.)*
Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdFarenthold resigned ahead of ethics ruling against him House Ethics calls on Farenthold to pay back K taxpayer-funded harassment settlement Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans MORE (Texas)*
Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterDems push Chao on aviation oversight after death on Southwest flight Dem calls for aviation safety hearing after death on Southwest flight Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans MORE (Pa.)
Gregg HarperGregory (Gregg) Livingston HarperOvernight Health Care: Opioid distributors summoned before Congress | Judge sets trial date in massive opioid lawsuit | Senators press DOJ to stop blocking medical marijuana Opioid distributors to testify before House committee on their role in epidemic Loss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans MORE (Miss.)
Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceTrump has not invited Democrats, media to state dinner: report Republican lawmaker introduces new cyber deterrence bill House Dems add five candidates to ‘Red to Blue’ program MORE (Calif)
Patrick Meehan (Pa.)
Tom RooneyThomas (Tom) Joseph RooneyLoss of Ryan hits hard for House Republicans Four lawmakers offer bill to permanently ban earmarks Republicans on defensive over Russia report finding MORE (Fla.) 

* Have already resigned from the House