[UPDATED]House Speaker Paul Ryan announced this morning that he will not seek re-election to Congress in November.
"You all know that I did not seek this job," Ryan said this morning at a press conference. "But I took it reluctantly and gave it all I had."
Roll Call, a publication that covers Capitol Hill, reported that Ryan told GOP colleagues he'll serve out his current term, which ends in January 2019, but he will not seek re-election in November.
“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,” Ryan counselor Brendan Buck said in a statement that was shared by Roll Call.
Ryan represents Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District, which includes Kenosha County, Racine County and most of Walworth County, as well as portions of Rock County, Waukesha County and Milwaukee County.
Ryan faced an insurgent campaign from Democrat Randy Bryce, a veteran and an ironworker, whose strong grass-roots campaign has drawn national attention.
The plain-spoken Bryce, also known as Ironstache for his bushy Village People-style mustache, is a stark contrast to the buttoned-up Ryan. Bryce has positioned himself as a candidate for the people, while Ryan's primary focus during 20 years in Congress has been to eliminate social welfare programs and cut taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals.
Bryce's campaign has raised $4.75 million, with 75 percent of the donations coming in increments of $200 or less.
The Atlantic reported that Ryan informed colleagues of his decision this morning, at a session of the House Republican conference after telling his staff.
The Atlantic said Ryan told members: “I’ve become a Sunday Dad,” and he wanted to spend more time with his family.. After nearly 20 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.”
Ryan’s future on Capitol Hill had been a topic of conversation ahead of a difficult campaign season, as Republicans try to keep the House majority. But few had openly suggested change was coming, especially not before the November midterm election.
In fact, just weeks ago, Ryan’s office was pushing back against a Republican congressman’s suggestion that the GOP leader would soon step down as speaker.
A statement released this morning from Bryce's campaign said: "Paul Ryan decided to quit today rather than face Randy Bryce and the voters. With nearly $5 million raised to date, a strong field program aided by organized labor, a broad coalition of support locally and nationally, Randy Bryce is incredibly well positioned to be the next Representative for the First District. Electorates far more conservative than Wisconsin's 1st have already elected Democrats in special elections in Wisconsin and across the country."
Many people working on the other side of the aisle have responded harshly this morning to Ryan's withdrawal.
Scot Ross, director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, said, "When you look up ‘white privilege’ in the dictionary, you see Paul Ryan’s photo. With few actual accomplishments, Paul Ryan was somehow placed on a pedestal as some gifted intellectual.
“Paul Ryan proved that in America if you’re born rich you can still achieve your dreams of one day giving yourself a massive tax break if you hang around Washington, D.C. long enough. Now he will have more time to spend with his family and contemplate his legacy, the $1.5 trillion in debt he’s left with our children.”
Ryan's withdrawal is seen by many political observers as a devastating blow to the Republican Party ahead of midterm elections in November. The action suggests that the party is crumbling under the considerable weight of Donald Trump.
Before he can run against a Republican candidate in November, Bryce first faces Cathy Myers in the Democratic primary for the seat.
Her campaign, on Twitter, said, "Paul Ryan gave up on representing his constituents a long time ago. Voters want a public servant who will work as hard as they do to find solutions to our problems in #W101. That's why we're going to win in November, whether he runs or not."
Editor's note: This story will be updated.