By JONATHAN MARTIN and NICHOLAS FANDOS
© 2018 New York Times News Service
WASHINGTON — Speaker Paul Ryan announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in November, ending a brief stint atop the House and signaling the peril that the Republican majority faces in the midterm elections.
But his retirement, at age 48, is sure to kick off a succession battle for the leadership of the House Republican Conference, likely between the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, and the House majority whip, Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
And it could also trigger another wave of retirements among Republicans not eager to face angry voters in the fall and taking their cue from Ryan.
As if on cue, Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., announced his retirement an hour after Ryan.
Ryan’s decision to quit caught many in the party by surprise.
Explaining his decision to his Republican colleagues Wednesday morning at a meeting in the Capitol, a subdued Ryan said he wanted to spend more time with his children, who live in the same town where the speaker grew up.
He pledged that he would help fellow Republicans extensively in the 2018 campaign and said he would continue raising money at a powerful pace, according to two lawmakers in the room. Ryan has become the party’s most important fundraiser in the House and Republicans have been counting on him to help them collect and spend tens of millions of dollars defending their majority this fall.
He pointed to the recently enacted overhaul of the tax code and increased military spending as his signal accomplishments.
Growing emotional at points, Ryan said family considerations weighed heavily on his retirement, explaining that his daughter was 13 when he became speaker and he did not want to be a remote figure in her teenage years.
But he has also been forced to answer for a constant stream of provocations and slights from President Donald Trump.
Rep. Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania who is also retiring, noted the difficulty of Ryan’s position.
“We can all read between the lines,” Dent said. “This is not an easy administration to be dealing with.”