On Wednesday, Paul Ryan (R-WI) officially announced that he will not seek re-election in November after months of speculation regarding whether or not he would throw his name in the ring for another term. This prompted Trey Gowdy to leave a cryptic message for the Wisconsin Republican, inspiring some to ask, “Speaker Gowdy?!”
News broke early on Wednesday morning that Paul Ryan recently told confidants that he would not run for re-election this year. According to those reports, Ryan made his decision because he foresaw Republicans either holding a slim majority or losing the majority in the House. The Speaker’s counselor then confirmed that Ryan told his colleagues this will be his last year as a member of the House.
“This morning Speaker Ryan shared with his colleagues that this will be his last year as a member of the House,” said Brendan Buck. “He will serve out his full term, run through the tape, and then retire in January. After nearly twenty 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. He will discuss his decision at a press conference immediately following the member meeting,” Buck added.
Shortly thereafter, Paul Ryan officially announced that he will not seek re-election in November. The speaker said he is retiring because he wants to spend more time with his children and be more active in his family life, according to The Daily Caller. “I wanted to share with you a little of what I just told my colleagues a few minutes ago. You realize something when you take this job, it’s a big job with a lot riding on you and you feel it,” said Ryan.
“But you also know that this is a job that does not last forever,” added the Wisconsin Republican. “You realize that you hold the office for just a small part of our history, so you better make the most of it. It’s fleeting, and that inspires you to do big things,” he said. “That’s why today I’m announcing that this year will be my last one as a member of the House.”
In the wake of Ryan’s announcement, Congressman Trey Gowdy cryptically reminded everyone that the Speaker of the House does not need to actually be a sitting congressman. After calling Ryan the “smartest kid in the class” and wishing him, his wife, and their three children “all the best,” the South Carolina Republican addressed “those within Congress who always seemed to have a better idea or a smarter strategy,” telling them, “now is your chance to run for Speaker.”
“To those outside of Congress who always seemed to have a better idea or a smarter strategy,” Gowdy added. “You do not have to be a member of the House to be Speaker of the House and hence, now is your chance to run for Speaker.” The Constitution dictates that “the House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers,” but it does not stipulate that you have to be a sitting member of Congress to run for the leadership position.
This left many a Trey Gowdy fan hoping that his message was a sneaky way of insinuating that he might run for the Speaker position himself. Like Ryan, Gowdy recently announced that he will not run for office again at the conclusion of his term.
However, hearts were broken in short order when it was revealed that Gowdy’s message was nothing more than a call for loud-mouthed politicians to put up or shut up. When asked for comment on the possibility that he could become the first non-sitting member to become the Speaker of the House in U.S. history, a spokeswoman for Gowdy’s office responded simply: “not a chance.” Sigh.