State News

Speaker Vos will not run to replace Paul Ryan as Republicans struggle to find a successor

After several top Republicans declined to run to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan, Democrats see an opportunity for another surprising legislative pickup.

Image By: Leah Voskuil

After significant speculation, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced Friday that he will not run to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan, casting further uncertainty as to whether Republicans can hold onto the seat.

Vos, who currently represents Rochester, was one of the biggest names in the state to be floated as a possible candidate.

“Since Paul announced his decision Wednesday, I’ve been overwhelmed at the outpouring of support from friends, colleagues and constituents who are encouraging me to run in the 1st Congressional District,” Vos said in a statement. “While I know that our nation’s capital desperately needs more conservative reformers from Wisconsin, Michelle and I have decided that we can do more good continuing to push state-based conservative reforms.”

Vos is the third major figure to decline to run in as many days, with both former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and state Sen. Dave Craig, R-Big Bend, both declaring so.

Several party officials have now thrown their support behind UW System Regent Bryan Steil, a former Republican staffer and Gov. Scott Walker appointee.

Even before Ryan’s retirement announcement, Democrats had fielded the strongest challenge to the house speaker since his election in labor organizer and veteran Randy Bryce.

In a district that President Donald Trump won easily, polls show Bryce narrowly defeating most potential Republican challengers, including Vos, 42-40.

"Paul Ryan's seat is well-within Randy's grasp," said Matt Canter of Global Strategy Group, who conducted the poll. "We tested him against well known possible Republican challengers and, in each case, he was ahead or in a dead-heat.

Though he faces a primary challenge from Janesville School Board Member Cathy Myers, Bryce has been able to raise significantly more funds than Democrats have historically been able to in the district, largely thanks to a viral online presence.

"The people of the First District deserve a Congressman who will actually represent them and fight for their interests, not one who is going to dedicate the better part of a year to fundraising for other Representatives across the country,” Bryce said.

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