While Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s retirement announcement wasn’t a complete surprise, the timing caught observers off guard. What impact will Ryan not seeking re-election have on Wisconsin politics in November? Media Trackers put a series of questions to Republican strategist Mark Graul on the Ryan effect in Wisconsin:
- What are the prospects for Republicans holding the 1st Congressional District seat? Graul: “There are a lot of really good Republican candidates who will be able to get into this race. We’ll see how many do. I’m confident any of them can give a deadbeat dad a good run for his money (Democrat Randy Bryce).
- The list of potential candidates is indeed long. From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, University of Wisconsin-System Regent Bryan Steil, state Rep. Tyler August, state Rep. Samantha Kerkman of Salem, state Rep. Amy Loudenbeck of Clinton, and state Sen. Dave Craig, a former Ryan staffer. Graul much will depend on who gets in and how quickly they organize: “I think most important for Republicans in that congressional seat is to figure out who is the strongest candidate that can put together the resources and the team and a short period of time.
- The Journal-Sentinel reported that none of the lawmakers responded to questions about whether they were considering runs except Kerkman, who said she would make up her mind in the next couple of days after consulting with others considering getting in the race. They quoted her as saying “It’s the year of the woman.” Graul said he doesn’t believe gender would impact Republican prospects.
- Ryan’s impact on GOP prospects to keep the House. Graul doesn’t think Ryan’s announcement will have much impact on his ability to raise money for congressional races. Graul, who believes November is going to be a tremendous challenge for Republicans, doesn’t think Ryan’s announcement makes the challenge any greater.