After first getting elected to the US House in 1998, getting reelected eight times and rising to become the Speaker of the House in 2015, Paul Ryan has announced that he will not be seeking reelection in 2018.
The Wisconsin Republican announced his impending retirement on April 11.
“You realize something when you take this job,” said Ryan to reporters on Capitol Hill, according to CNN. “It’s a big job with a lot riding on you … but you also know this is not a job that does not last forever. … You realize you hold the office for just a small part of our history. So you better make the most of it.”
Though he was pressured to run to replace previous Speaker John Boehner, Ryan says he has no regrets. His retirement is meant to allow him to spend more time with his family, as his three children are now into their teenage years, and he wants to be more than a “weekend dad” before they leave for college.
“No plans to run for anything,” said Ryan in a CNN interview. “And I really don’t think I’ll change my mind.”
Many Republicans in the House are supporting Ryan’s decision but will mourn the loss of his presence in Congress.
“Politically, I think he’s been a tremendous image for us,” said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a Republican. “There’s not a more wholesome person on the planet than Paul Ryan.
During the 2016 election, Ryan was reluctant to endorse then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Now after more than a year of working with him, some who work with Ryan believe that President Trump and the polarization and partisanship within Congress may have contributed to Ryan’s retirement.
“I think he’s tired,” said Newt Gingrich, who was also formerly House Speaker. “It’s a combination of dealing with 240 House Republicans, the United States Senate and President Trump. That trio was about enough.”
News of Ryan’s retirement comes in a tense time for many Republicans, especially those who have a cautious eye on the upcoming elections. According to CNN, at least 43 Republicans have announced their departure from the House.
“We’ve got to find better ways to empower people where they feel like this is worth their time,” said Republican Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas.
In order to gain control of the House for the first time since 2011, Democrats must win 24 seats in 2018. In a time that President Trump’s popularity is unreliable, many Democrats are relying on winning a majority in the elections to put them in a place of power again.
“Obviously, Donald Trump is playing a role here, retirements are playing a role here, the presidential party losing seats in off-year elections is playing a role,” said Steven Billet, director of George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management legislative affairs program.
Recent polls by FiveThirtyEight have shown that Democrats currently have an average of a six-point lead when it comes to what party voters prefer in the upcoming midterms.