Regular listeners to this segment would not have been surprised to hear the news yesterday that Wisconsin Representative and Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan was not seeking re-election. That possibility was mentioned earlier this week.
Many have suggested it was due to Ryan having conflicts with the president. I’d sooner think the one political person responsible for Ryan retiring is actually Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader.
Ryan’s wife has family ties to northeast Iowa, and he took a side trip from a family reunion in Decorah last year to speak in support of Congressman Rod Blum. Then, as in virtually all public remarks late last year, he noted that the House had been doing its job, passing hundreds of bills that never saw the light of day in the Senate. I noted then to you that it seemed he was pushing a “not our fault” strategy heading into the 2018 midterms.
So while being with his family more may be nice, as will be the ability to deer hunt more regularly, it was probably a sense of frustration as much as anything else that led to the decision.
I’ve been asked about the number of GOP retirements this term and what it means. Early on, people like Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Tennessee’s Bob Corker retired because they didn’t want to run this year and have to support or defend the president. But those Trump opponents cleared out long ago.
It’s the recent retirements, including Ryan and South Carolina’s Trey Gowdy, that are more concerning. They seem to just be sick and tired of the whole thing, frustrated that they can’t seem to make a difference. That may be for a variety of causes, but the outcome is the same.
Politics aside, if good people who want to make a different find the whole thing so frustrating with no good end in sight, that speaks volumes about the mess in Washington. And does not give much encouragement to those who come after them.
And that’s the Iowa Politics report for Thursday, April 12, on Twitter and Instagram at iowapolitics. Listen to today’s segment here: