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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 12:28 AM
Updated: Apr 12, 2018 12:28 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 26980

Reported Deaths: 1159
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin9099657
Ramsey3351149
Stearns205614
Nobles15775
Anoka152779
Dakota144664
Washington70035
Olmsted68911
Rice5243
Kandiyohi5141
Scott4712
Clay44930
Mower4462
Wright3492
Todd3441
Sherburne2492
Carver2402
Benton1853
Steele1700
Freeborn1590
Blue Earth1490
Martin1355
St. Louis11914
Lyon1012
Unassigned9611
Pine930
Nicollet8811
Cottonwood820
Winona8115
Crow Wing815
Watonwan790
Carlton750
Goodhue736
Otter Tail731
Chisago691
Polk632
Itasca5610
Dodge540
Chippewa521
Morrison480
Le Sueur471
Douglas460
Meeker460
Becker440
Jackson420
Murray410
McLeod410
Isanti360
Pennington300
Waseca290
Mille Lacs241
Rock230
Faribault220
Wabasha200
Swift191
Beltrami180
Sibley170
Brown172
Fillmore171
Norman150
Pipestone130
Kanabec121
Aitkin120
Marshall120
Cass112
Big Stone110
Wilkin113
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Redwood70
Yellow Medicine70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Red Lake40
Traverse40
Grant40
Clearwater30
Houston30
Hubbard30
Lac qui Parle30
Roseau30
Stevens10
Lake10
Kittson10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 21114

Reported Deaths: 593
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4614140
Woodbury286137
Black Hawk178849
Buena Vista10672
Linn97879
Dallas95226
Marshall91418
Wapello63615
Johnson6198
Muscatine56741
Crawford5512
Tama41129
Scott38510
Dubuque35921
Louisa35011
Pottawattamie31910
Sioux3060
Jasper26917
Wright2210
Washington1968
Warren1671
Plymouth1522
Story1311
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9913
Poweshiek928
Hamilton760
Webster741
Henry732
Boone720
Bremer716
Clarke690
Des Moines681
Taylor660
Clinton651
Guthrie553
Cedar501
Benton431
Cherokee410
Monroe415
Jones370
Shelby370
Osceola360
Jefferson360
Marion350
Dickinson350
Buchanan341
Iowa340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Madison292
Lee290
Sac280
Davis280
Emmet270
Fayette270
Clay270
Monona260
Harrison260
Hardin240
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Lucas222
Mills200
Grundy200
Franklin200
Humboldt201
Pocahontas200
Delaware191
Floyd191
Hancock180
Appanoose173
Butler161
Kossuth160
Carroll151
Ida150
Greene150
Keokuk140
Jackson140
Page140
Audubon131
Cass130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Winnebago110
Calhoun100
Union100
Van Buren90
Adair90
Montgomery92
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Mitchell40
Worth30
Unassigned20
Wayne10
Decatur10
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