House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that he would not be seeking re-election in 2018. While it was not a complete surprise to those in the know, the decision sent a shockwave through Washington. Ryan is now part of the growing list of Republicans (about 46) who will not be returning to Congress next year.
Ryan’s retirement appears to reinforce the GOP’s fear that a “blue wave” will hit Congress come November, taking away the party’s majority status in both chambers. Yet, interestingly, the latest poll conducted by ABC News and Washington Post shows that the Democrats’ advantage in the midterm elections may be shrinking: The 12-point advantage held in January has dropped to a four-point lead.
So far, Ryan has resisted calls for him to step down as speaker and allow an early leadership election to proceed. The GOP establishment is taking bets on whether the party will be able to force Ryan to hand over the gavel — some suspect that he may cave to the pressure by summer.
Based on most accounts, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is the likely successor, despite the personal scandal that helped sink his candidacy last time around. Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) is also getting a lot of buzz, but he’s unlikely to put up a fight against McCarthy, who has already secured Ryan’s blessing. Now McCarthy must bend the knee to the House Freedom Caucus to seal the deal.