Aaron P. Bernstein | Reuters
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., addresses a news conference where he announced he would not seek re-election in November, on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 11, 2018.
The speaker told fellow Republican lawmakers and staff during a closed-door meeting that he was retiring to spend more time with his family, a GOP source, who was inside the room during the conference, told CNBC on condition of anonymity.
“He indicated that he has a house full of teenagers who have only known him in Congress, and they’re ready for him to come home and be a father,” the source said.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., are among the leaders who could try to succeed Ryan as the top Republican in the chamber. Both have quietly started to make moves for the job, according to Politico. The GOP source told CNBC that McCarthy and Scalise have the inside track, but other lawmakers are looking into making a run, too.
Scalise will not run for the post if McCarthy does, according to Axios.
Neither McCarthy nor Scalise gave any hints Wednesday about whether they would seek to lead House Republicans.
In a tweet Wednesday, Trump called Ryan a “truly good man” and said “he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question.”
Ryan, who has served in the House since 1999, likely would have won a re-election bid. But he would have faced a better-funded opponent than he is used to in Democrat Randy Bryce, whom the House Democrats’ campaign arm is supporting for the nomination.
In a statement, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, said, “Our mission to hold the House continues unabated” despite Ryan’s retirement.
In a statement, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Tyler Law contended Ryan “sees what is coming in November” and decided to leave Congress rather than defend the Republican agenda. He argued more GOP retirements could be imminent.
It is unclear whom the GOP will want to run for the Wisconsin’s 1st District seat. One candidate, Paul Nehlen, has previously challenged Ryan but is unlikely to gain traction with the party because he has espoused white supremacist views.