Updated on April 11 at 9:46 a.m. ET
For months, House Republicans and Democrats alike have traded bets on whether Speaker Paul Ryan would run for reelection. Now, it seems, they have their answer.
At a House Republican conference meeting on Wednesday morning, Ryan informed colleagues that he will not seek reelection in his Wisconsin district, according to multiple House Republican sources. A source with direct knowledge said that Ryan told his staff just before the gathering, at approximately 8:45 a.m. ET.
“I’ve become a Sunday Dad,” Ryan told members in the closed-door session, according to two Republicans inside the room. He said that after 20 years in Congress he is anxious to spend more time with his family. Looking “subdued” and “respectful”—as one Republican put it—Ryan added that he’s satisfied with his accomplishments, including tax reform and an increased defense budget.
“Members are thankful to Paul,” one member texted me. “It’s his decision, so everyone seems okay and understanding.” (Lawmakers cited in this story spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could speak freely.)
As Ryan addressed the conference, his longtime communications aide Brendan Buck issued a statement to reporters confirming the news:
This morning Speaker Ryan shared with his colleagues that this will be his last year as a member of the House. He will serve out his full term, run through the tape, and then retire in January. After nearly twenty years in the House, the speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father. While he did not seek the position, he told his colleagues that serving as speaker has been the professional honor of his life, and he thanked them for the trust they placed in him.
For months now, rumors have circulated on Capitol Hill that Ryan was mulling retirement from the speakership he never wanted. The whispers triggered a fundraising frenzy from Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who are jockeying to replace him. Both McCarthy and Scalise have been more overt about their ambitions in recent weeks, fueling more speculation that Ryan was eyeing the exits.