Questions Swirl Around US House Speaker Paul Ryan's Decision To Forgo Re-election

Tuesday, 17 Apr, 2018

And, while Democrats caricatured Ryan in a TV ad as a heartless fiend casually pushing granny in her wheelchair off a cliff, I found a ray of hope in the rapport I saw Ryan quietly build with a number of grass-roots, low-income community organizations around the country.

Right now, the favorites to succeed Mr. Ryan are House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, both marching in lockstep behind Mr. Trump.

In a signal of continued conservative disgruntlement, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Friday he's "open to running" for the top job. And that Republican isn't Kevin McCarthy. He replaced Eric Cantor as majority leader in 2014 after the Virginian unexpectedly lost a primary for his House seat and quit.

Ryan's announcement Wednesday that he would retire as House speaker at the age of 48 at the end of his current term came as no surprise in Washington.

Instead, the rival Democratic Party, surprisingly flattened by the failure of its 2016 standard-bearer, Hillary Clinton, and in the absence of an obvious qualified successor beyond the aging and controversial Joe Biden, seems unprepared yet to take advantage of the panic.

McCarthy was elected in 2006 and rocketed into a leadership job in 2009, thanks to his campaigning for fellow Republicans.

Without the president on the ballot, the Republicans need an issue to nationalize this election.

"Kevin's the kingmaker of California Republican politics", Mark Martinez, a Cal State Bakersfield politics professor, told the newspaper. Democrats with a byline, what most Americans still call journalists, are slanting their coverage to be favorable to the Democrats and against President Trump and the Republicans. He is the kind of moderate who has alienated much of the Republican base. Others bristle at the idea of presidential meddling in their contest.

The Tuesday Group, a coalition of moderate House Republicans co-chaired by Dent, backed Ryan's election as speaker, calling him "a thoughtful leader and reformer in Washington, a unifier in the House Republican caucus, and someone who is willing and able to work across the aisle to achieve results for the American people".

Still, McCarthy was reportedly instrumental in watering down provisions slashing mortgage interest and state tax deductions, which hit California "harder than nearly anywhere else in the country", the newspaper reported. He became speaker in 2015 only because he was an acceptable compromise between warring Republican factions.

"It's like Eisenhower resigning right before D-Day", said Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, who once headed the House GOP's campaign committee.

McCarthy has worked to improve his relationship with conservatives, including trying to craft legislation cutting spending from the government budget enacted recently.

Conservatives need a reason to get out and vote and right now, the Republicans are not giving it to them. He's a great brand for the party.

If Ryan's departure makes McConnell the poster boy for the Republican establishment, he may be as much of a drag on the party's electoral fortunes as Trump himself.

"Paul Ryan was the franchise".

"My plan is to stay here and run through the tape", Ryan told reporters, noting he had "shattered" fundraising efforts by previous speakers, more than doubling his $20 million goal. "It makes no sense to take the biggest fundraiser off the field".

Ryan was essentially forced into taking over the speakership in 2015 after John Boehner was driven out by conservative members of his own party.

Ryan has said he will serve as speaker through the end of his term.

Scalise has said he wouldn't run against McCarthy, a longtime friend. But Scalise hasn't ruled out seeking the job if McCarthy fails to nail down the votes needed to elect a speaker when the new Congress convenes in January. White House officials declined comment.

That is also why it can not be Kevin McCarthy.

Jordan, who founded the House Freedom Caucus, is described as a "hard-liner" and "conservative firebrand" in the story.