On Wednesday morning, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, announced he will not seek another term in the House of Representatives. According to a statement from Ryan staffer Brendan Buck, the speaker will serve out the rest of his term and then retire from the House in January.
Kevin Diaz, the Washington correspondent for the Houston Chronicle, says the announcement was unexpected.
“This is a complete shock and surprise to everybody,” Diaz says. “He didn’t whisper a word of this, just told the president this morning.”
Ryan hasn’t offered a political motivation for the decision.
“He says he’s tired of being a weekend dad,” Diaz says. “It looks like he’s citing all personal reasons, nothing business.”
Insiders are asking why Ryan delivered the news midway through an election cycle.
“This is a very awkward time for an announcement like this, with the critical midterm elections coming up,” Diaz says. “He says he never wanted the job, he took it reluctantly. But you can’t help but read between those lines. Is he done with Trump? Is he worried about the future? Is he worried about a showdown with the special counsel, Mueller? Who knows.”
Diaz says that if Ryan is concerned about losing control of the House in the midterm elections, that could indicate trouble for some Republicans in Texas races. However, one member of the Texas delegation who could get a boost from Ryan’s retirement is Rep. Kevin Brady, a Republican from the Houston area who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
Paul Ryan’s exit could also signal a shift in Republican leadership direction toward the far-right Freedom Caucus.
“They could be on the ascendancy. They may want a bigger piece of the pie now, if they see it as having driven Ryan out, as being too accommodating to the other side” Diaz says. “But boy, there’s a lot of dominoes that are likely to fall down.”
Written by Jen Rice.