Today, Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed the longstanding rumor that he would not seek re-election and retire from the House of Representatives at the end of this term. He did say he would stay on as Speaker through the end of his term.

First and foremost, we want to thank Paul for his service to our state and country over the past 20 years. He represented Wisconsin admirably during his entire tenure in the House and, regardless of political differences, we can all appreciate how he was able to elevate Wisconsin’s influence on the national stage with his run as the GOP Vice Presidential candidate in 2012 and as Speaker of the House.

In D.C.

WBA is continuing to advocate regulatory relief to the federal delegation with Ryan’s help over the rest of his term. Just this week, WBA staff and members are out in D.C. as part of the ICBA Capital Summit. We will be out there again in two weeks for the ABA Government Relations Summit. Tonight, WBA staff are attending the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s annual fundraiser in D.C. with members of the congressional delegation and state legislature.

The Next Speaker

The next Speaker will not be decided until after the 2018 midterm elections. Should Republicans maintain control, Congressmen Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) are the two most mentioned as potential replacements. Should Democrats takeover, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has given every indication that she would seek the gavel again after serving as Speaker from 2007-2011. 

District Dynamics

Ryan never received less than 55% of the vote in any of his elections, and the district has been reliably Republican in recent years. Just this month, Conservative Judge Michael Screnock won the seat by 5.2% while losing statewide by 12%. Donald Trump won the seat by 10.2% in 2016 and Mitt Romney won it by 5% in 2012.

Two Democrats have been running in the primary to face off against Ryan for almost a year: union worker Randy Bryce and Janesville School Board Member Cathy Myers. Ryan stepping down could spur other, more serious candidates, including current elected officials, to now declare.

With Ryan holding the seat for 20 years, there could be a lot of pent-up energy from other Republicans to run which could result in a large primary. Wisconsin Legislative Seats are dominated by Republicans in the district, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) and Chairman of the Senate Financial Services Committee Dave Craig (R-Big Bend). UW Board of Regents Member and attorney Bryan Steil has also been mentioned early. There are at least five other candidates who might declare.

Candidates have from April 15-June 1 to circulate nomination papers to get ballot access. The primary election will be held in August.