Post-election politicking is already well on its way as the House of Representatives is set to vote on the Speaker position, currently held by Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, on November 15th. Recent reports, namely from The Hill, have floated the possibility that Speaker Ryan could walk away from the post as early as next week, after the election but before the Speaker vote.
No one quoted in the article as saying Ryan could step away or could be ousted is named, and the entire scenario is all unlikely conjecture at this point.
In fact, one of the few people named who is quoted in the article is Ryan’s spokesperson, AshLee Strong, who insists the Speaker is running for re-election of the top House position. And there is no indication from Ryan that he could step away.
It’s utterly unlikely that he would do so because Ryan knows that with the party experiencing deep fissures around the Trump divide, a fight over the position now would only exacerbate the issue:
The conventional wisdom has been that no one other than Ryan — a former Ways and Means Committee chairman and Mitt Romney’s 2012 running mate — can even amass 218 votes in the GOP conference. But chatter about a Ryan resignation has sparked wild speculation on Capitol Hill about who might throw a hat in the ring if the unexpected occurs and the Speaker’s race becomes a free-for-all.
There is nothing in Paul Ryan’s history that indicates he would do something that would throw the Republican Party into that kind of chaos.
One of the best anonymous quotes is from an alleged Freedom caucus member:
“I personally just sense he really didn’t want the job in the first place and won’t want to go to the floor and risk a second vote, which I think would be more likely than not.”
Oh, you reckon? Was it the first, second or third time Republicans asked, and he declined last year, before ultimately caving to pressure and a sense of party loyalty, that he didn’t want the dubious honor of being in charge of the bunch of stroppy, contentious, Trump-excusing belly-achers currently holding seats in the House?
When called on to fill the position last year after his predecessor, John Boehner, resigned, Ryan did so reluctantly, but he did it. For the Party. A man like that doesn’t just walk away when the going gets tough.
People who have long followed Paul Ryan’s career agree that the idea doesn’t pass the smell test:
Reliable Source: "Garbage speculation from anonymous members…Paul is running." Chatter grows Ryan could step down https://t.co/5Piglxh6Ic
— Charlie Sykes (@SykesCharlie) November 4, 2016
Ryan also knows that if he walks, his reputation would forever be tarnished by the event. At every turn, the maligning comments of “he quit,” “he couldn’t hack it,” “he wasn’t an effective leader and was chased out” would follow him. Donald Trump and his supporters in the House have already tried to smear him with attacks along that vein. Especially after a call last month in which Ryan told House members that he wouldn’t be stumping for Trump any longer and wouldn’t hold members to supporting the Republican nominee either. Regardless, Ryan did cast an early vote for Donald Trump, which should appease some of Trump’s supporters.
Sure, Paul Ryan would much rather prefer to be chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, rather than Speaker, but the man is nothing if not practical. Stepping away from the speakership might save him a headache that running for re-election will inevitably bring, but the negatives of stepping away are just too high. Ryan’s best bet to affect change in the House and the Party is to stay where he’s at, and he knows that.
Honestly, the Party needs him there at the moment. Whether Trump wins or loses, the Republican Party will still have to deal with the fracturing that is unlikely to go away anytime soon. If it can be reconciled at all remains to be seen. Paul Ryan has been able to walk the line of unifying force throughout 2016. They really cannot hope for better in times like these.