West Virginia, Ohio reps react to Paul Ryan’s retirement announcement

PARKERSBURG — Congressmen representing West Virginia and Ohio praised the leadership of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan following his decision not to seek reelection.

Ryan, R-Wisconsin, will retire at the end of his term in January. He said Wednesday that he wanted to spend more time with his family and didn’t want his children to know him only as a “weekend dad.”

“Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t seek the position, but he answered the call and provided steadfast leadership to the House of Representatives,” said Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., one of several elected officials to issue a statement following Ryan’s announcement on Wednesday. “While we are sad to see such a close friend leave us at the end of this term, we respect his desire to spend more time with his family.”

Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said Ryan has served the people of Wisconsin and the United States “with distinction and integrity” and called his decision to focus on his family an admirable one.

“We have achieved much during his time as Speaker, including tax reform, regulatory reforms and rebuilding America’s military readiness. And, there’s still more to come,” Johnson said.

Ryan’s departure will leave a significant void, Johnson said.

“Over the coming months, I will work with my colleagues to encourage other strong leaders to step forward to guide us through these difficult times,” he said.

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., said that as the father of young children himself, he understands the challenge of balancing Congressional service with being a good husband and father.

“Speaker Ryan will be serving until the end of this Congress and I (am) confident he will continue to do a great job,” Mooney said. “I look forward to continuing to work with him and my colleagues in Congress to advance President Trump’s conservative agenda.”

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., said Ryan’s motives for ending his tenure are “absolutely sincere.”

“Speaker Ryan has served honorably in Congress, and it’s safe to say that the historic tax cuts we passed in December would not have happened without his leadership,” he said.

Some see Ryan’s move as a response to anticipated gains by Democrats in November, thanks to opposition to Trump.

“House Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement proves that Americans, including West Virginians, are tired of being attacked by the GOP and he knows it,” said Belinda Biafore, chairwoman of the West Virginia Democratic Party. “The GOP has failed at keeping false promises they made to get elected and now Speaker Ryan is scared to answer to the voters.

“The Republican Party is crumbling while Democrats are committed to fighting for working families and winning in November,” she said.