GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - After House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) officially announced his decision to seek re-election -- and even moments before -- reactions to the news were coming in to our newsroom inbox from politicians and organizations friendly to the Speaker and his political opposition. These are their complete, unedited written statements, with the most recent statements first.
“Representative Paul Ryan spent his career attacking the rights of workers, the livelihood of seniors, and access to affordable healthcare for American families,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “Wisconsinites are ready for a different direction and we look forward to electing a new leader in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District this November who will stand up for workers by working to create jobs, raise wages and protect the freedom to collectively bargain.”
“Paul Ryan’s decision not to run this November shows that Republicans are afraid of being held accountable to voters for pushing policies that hurt middle class Americans,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “Wisconsin voters want change. Paul Ryan wouldn’t even show up at a town hall to talk with his own constituents. We want real policies that help lift up working families, not continued partisan attacks on unions, schools and workplace rights in order to please billionaire campaign donors.”
State Representative David Bowen (D-Milwaukee)
“The pushback Ryan has received for political games during his time as Speaker of the House has been pivotal in ensuring today’s announcement. Thanks to the efforts of Wisconsinites like those of the 5o Miles More students, Ryan will no longer hold one of the highest ranking offices in the country. These students sacrificed their spring breaks last month in order to march 50 miles to Ryan’s hometown of Janesville to bring the issue of gun violence reform to his doorstep. They’re dedication to generate energy around this issue and bring accountability to Ryan’s failed leadership is commendable and it was an honor to march with them.
“Ryan’s decision to step down is an enormous victory for the future of our state and our nation, and I applaud all those that have fought to make this possible.”
National Right to Life president Carol Tobias
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has been a dedicated ally in the fight to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Throughout his career in the U.S. House, and in his tenure as speaker, he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the cause of life. Paul Ryan has a 100% prolife voting record over nearly 20 years in Congress, and as speaker has presided over passage of numerous pieces of legislation, including the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and various measures to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not support abortion. All of us in the right-to-life movement are grateful to Speaker Ryan for his leadership in our common cause of working for the day when all members of the human family are protected by our nation's laws.
U.S. Congressional candidate Beau Liegeois
"As I meet with people across the district, I continue to hear stories about how the disastrous Ryan-Gallagher agenda has left Wisconsin behind. We have a national debt that is growing faster than ever while our middle-class economy is stagnant, and they just passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill with a blank check.
Paul Ryan and Mike Gallagher’s only accomplishments were balancing a tax-giveaway for billionaires with proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security which hurts our seniors, and a healthcare bill that would have eliminated health care for 24 million Americans. These policies were wrong, and they do not reflect Northeast Wisconsin values. We need a leader who will stand up for Northeast Wisconsin, and I am ready."
America's Voice executive director Frank Sharry
“In the mid-1990s, I met Paul Ryan when he was young Jack Kemp acolyte working for Empower America. That Paul Ryan was an outspoken and tireless defender of immigrants and immigration. He was fearless, strategic and determined.
After he became one of the most powerful people in the nation, however, Speaker Paul Ryan did nothing on immigration except to front for President Trump's nativism.
The old Paul Ryan believed immigration was central pillar to the American experiment. The new Paul Ryan acts to advance Trump's odious ideas in the House of Representatives. As we speak, he and his leadership team are trying to gain support for a bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), that would take a wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty by slashing legal immigration, turbocharging deportations, building a border wall, denying state and local jurisdictions the authority to determine their own public safety strategies, and imposing government control on the hiring of all workers.
This is not only bad policy, but it’s bad politics. Trump’s nativism is a key component of why a Coalition of the Decent will flip the House this November. Instead of helping his more moderate members in suburban and diverse districts get a win on DACA, he remained tethered to the Freedom Caucus, and its insistence on keeping out and kicking out those who want to share in the American Dream.
He could have been a leader who put his party on the right side of history. Instead, the non-racist, pro-immigration libertarian of yore yielded to the party hack intent on kissing Trump’s ring and advancing a radical restrictionist agenda. How sad. How cynical.”
Giffords executive director Peter Ambler, (Rep. Gabby Giffords gun safety organization)
“Speaker Ryan’s decision to not run in 2018 is further evidence of Republican vulnerability on the issue of gun safety. As voter intensity on this issue increases, the politicians paid to defend the firearms industry are becoming aware of the fact that they can longer get away with staying silent. They know the same Americans who took to the streets to march for safer communities, will soon march to the ballot box.
“Speaker Ryan presided over Congress while our nation experienced five of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history. He watched as the gun death rate in Americans spiked to a level not seen in decades. Yet, Paul Ryan refused to allow even a single vote on legislation to improve our gun laws. Tragedy after tragedy, Ryan held moments of silence and offered ‘thoughts and prayers,’ but refused to take any meaningful action to prevent the next one from occurring. Instead, he cashed checks from the NRA and promoted their political agenda in Congress, prioritizing the interests of the gun industry over public safety.
“In the aftermath of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Americans are furious at politicians who have failed at one of our fundamental moral responsibilities — keeping our kids safe. Speaker Ryan is the personification of that failure. The voters of Wisconsin have an opportunity to turn the page and elect someone who knows what it means to fight for safer communities: Randy Bryce. Randy understands that the people of Wisconsin want someone who will fight to keep their children and communities safe. As an army veteran and a cancer survivor, Randy Brice embodies the courage and strength to persist our nation needs to fight to end America’s epidemic of gun violence, once and for all."
State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills)
"Wisconsin has a long history of producing great leaders, and Paul Ryan is one of its greatest. Paul always answered the call when his leadership was needed, yet never lost track of his roots. He worked tirelessly to represent his district and Wisconsin.
Despite all of his accomplishments in Washington, there is no more important task than to be a husband and a father. I know he looks forward to spending more time with his family and wish him well in retirement. I'm honored to have Paul as a friend."
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez
“Speaker Ryan’s retirement is an indictment of Republican leadership that has failed to provide meaningful results for the American people. Instead, Republicans have voted to gut funding for Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, student loans, public schools, and SNAP benefits, while trying to take health care away from millions of American families. They opposed measures to close the gender pay gap and viciously attacked a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body. They stifled any and all attempts to enact sensible gun laws. They refused to stand up to Donald Trump’s rampant bigotry, corruption, and dishonesty. And they consistently served Wall Street and wealthy corporations at the expense of their constituents.
“The American people are demanding change, and the disaster of unified Republican control of government has made one thing abundantly clear: Democratic values are American values. Americans want access to affordable health care, higher wages, quality education, commonsense gun reforms, and most importantly, a government that works for them. That is what the Democratic Party is all about.
“Since Donald Trump took office, 46 Republicans have resigned or made retirement plans, and Democrats have flipped another 39 state legislative seats from red to blue across the country. The American people are hungry for Democratic leadership, and the Democratic Party is organizing in every single ZIP code to provide it in 2018. As Paul Ryan heads for the exit, Democrats are fighting to make sure that his Republican colleagues join him in retirement come November.”
Governor Scott Walker
As dear friends of Paul and Janna for more than 20 years, Tonette and I simply say “thank you” to them and their family. On behalf of the more than five and a half million people of Wisconsin, we thank them for their deep dedication and service to our state and our country. While Paul leaves behind a far-reaching, reform-minded legacy and a long list of achievements in Congress, I believe this is just the beginning for him.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel
“Paul Ryan has been a champion for his constituents and a respected leader among his peers," said Chairwoman McDaniel. "He has left an indelible mark on Congress as an institution, most notably helping to secure the largest tax cut for the American people in a generation. We are grateful for his service to our country and his leadership in our Party."
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester)
“When I met Paul Ryan in 1998 during his first run for Congress, it was obvious he was someone of incredible talent and amazing ability. Now 20 years later, his record and accomplishments speak for themselves.
“Paul has been perhaps the best congressman Wisconsin has ever sent to Washington and also one of the best speakers to have gaveled Congress into session. His commitment to serving the people of Wisconsin and the United States is unparalleled.
“I am happy for my friend and his family, but sad for the 1st Congressional District and our country because men like him don't come around often.”
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin)
“Before I was elected to the Senate I served with Paul Ryan in the House and have spent many years working with him on behalf of the people of Wisconsin. We know each other well and while we have different views on policy, I consider him a friend and have a lot of respect for him as a person and a public servant. This was a difficult decision to make, and I wish Paul and his family all the best in the future.”
U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay)
“I want to sincerely thank Paul Ryan for his decades of service to, and sacrifices for, the state of Wisconsin and this country—I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity serve alongside him during my first term in Congress. He is an honorable man with many accomplishments, but most importantly he is a humble public servant who has never once lost sight of his Wisconsin roots and values. While his service and leadership will be missed greatly in the House, Paul has more than earned his right to a private life with his family in Janesville, and I could not be happier for him.”
State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette)
“While I am disappointed to see Speaker Paul Ryan announce his resignation, I feel lucky to call him a friend. Since 1998, Speaker Ryan has been a consistent conservative champion and a renowned policy expert; becoming Washington’s powerful voice of reason and judgement, which is dearly needed. Speaker Ryan exhibits what it means to be a leader.
“Speaker Ryan not only encapsulates what it means to be a policy mastermind, but a citizen legislator, never straying too far from his roots in Janesville. We can all learn from Speaker Ryan and his commitment to his community which he has never stopped serving.
“Washington will be at a loss without Speaker Ryan, and while his shoes may never be filled, I am confident that the 1st congressional district will continue to be led by strong conservative values. I wish Speaker Ryan and his family well as he continues onto his next endeavor.”
Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brad Courtney
“I first met Paul Ryan at the house of Waukesha County Chairman Don Taylor in 1998. He was and still is one of the most classy, down-to-earth people you will ever meet – treating everyone with dignity. Whether it was serving as Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential nominee, chairing two committees, or most recently as Speaker, Paul Ryan has accomplished things that have made us incredibly proud.
“Paul Ryan has been a passionate advocate for Wisconsin and a dedicated public servant for two decades. A tireless fighter for conservative principles, Paul was an ideas guy who was always fighting for hard-working Wisconsin families. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Paul for everything he has done for Wisconsin and the Republican Party.
“Wisconsin Republicans are committed to keeping this Congressional seat and I am confident that our eventual nominee will uphold Paul Ryan’s legacy of principled, conservative leadership.”
NextGen America President Tom Steyer
"History will not be kind to Paul Ryan. He will not be remembered as a visionary or a great legislator, but as a weak representative that compromised what little integrity he had to appease Donald Trump and an authoritarian administration. Paul Ryan has never been a leader, but rather a run-of-the-mill Republican, who’s biggest claim to fame will be pushing through an abomination of a tax bill that lines the pockets of his wealthy friends at the expense of working Americans.
"But let’s be clear: Although he and so many of his colleagues will be defeated in 2018, Paul Ryan is not retiring because he is going to lose in November. Paul Ryan is retiring because he already lost."
Democratic Governors Association
“Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision not to face Wisconsin voters this year is yet another major warning sign for Governor Scott Walker’s campaign,” said DGA Press Secretary Melissa Miller. “Voters in Wisconsin want change – and that’s why both Ryan and Walker faced difficult paths to re-election. Unfortunately for Walker, panic buttons and wake up calls don’t fix roads or improve schools. Wisconsin voters know he’s spent his time as Governor chasing national celebrity at the cost of Wisconsin’s middle class families, and no level of blaring alarm bells can change that.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America national communications director Kaylie Hanson Long
“People across America can now look forward to a time where Paul Ryan is not working every day to undermine our fundamental freedoms, including reproductive freedom. Ryan repeatedly tried-- and failed -- to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and each day he’s been in office, he’s shown that he does not stand with women and families. Instead of championing women and families, Ryan chose to champion Donald Trump’s backwards agenda. Trump’s legacy is Ryan’s legacy - that’s how history will remember him.
“The people of Wisconsin are now one step closer to getting the representative they deserve in Randy Bryce, who, unlike Paul Ryan, will fight for the rights of all people and believes unapologetically that women’s rights are human rights. NARAL and our members are energized to fight as hard as they can to make sure Randy Bryce can take his pro-choice values to Congress.”
One Wisconsin Now executive director Scot Ross
“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.”
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 494 business manager Dean A. Warsh
“The hundreds of working families who make up the IBEW Local 494 wish Speaker Ryan and his family the best as he returns to private life.
“This is increasingly one of the most important races in the nation. Speaker Ryan realizes working families are sick and tired of his leadership, because he has consistently attacked the working class, and used his powerful position to advocate for big-money donors, not his middle-class constituents.
“Now, we are looking forward to electing our union brother, Randy Bryce, to Congress. He will be a member of Congress focused on improving his constituents’ lives, and we can count on him to stand up for collective bargaining, unions, and the labor movement.”
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning
“There are three patterns Republicans are following in this divisive, unAmerican age of Donald Trump -- follow him, fight him or quit. Ryan is leaving, some Republicans on the national stage are willing to fight him while here in Wisconsin Scott Walker has chosen to follow the toxic GOP brand.
"His retirement is an admission by Speaker Ryan that his constituents do not approve of tax cuts for the rich at the expense of Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Ryan could not win over his constituents to his damaging tax plan, let alone the nation."
State Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna)
“I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude to Paul for going above and beyond for our state and country. I have seen firsthand Paul’s dedication to Wisconsinites over the last almost twenty years, putting our values, interests, and goals at the forefront of every decision in Washington – it is a quality that we will sorely miss here at home.
“Although it is with sadness that I see Paul leaving this important post, it is also with gratitude and understanding. After giving so many years to caring for his constituents, he has earned this time to now focus on his family, and I wish him all the best as he starts this next stage of his life.”
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin)
“Paul Ryan is a person of true integrity who I have had the great fortune to know over the last eight years. He has served Janesville, southeastern Wisconsin and our nation honorably. We should all be grateful for his sacrifice and understand his desire to be a full time Dad.”