Monday, April 16, 2018

Ryan Can't Save The GOP-- Can He Save His Own Political Future?


Truth-telling counts for nothing at all in DC; it's all about working within a narrative, positioning, marketing. When he announced he was bailing, Paul Ryan looked into the camera and, as he so often does, lied. He said he's certain the Republicans would hold the House majority. Quite the contrary-- like most Republicans who have lost their facility for political thought, Ryan knows there is virtually no chance the Republicans won't be a shriveled minority in 2019.

And only Inside the Beltway are people still talking about a close election-- like 25 lost seats. one being in southeast Wisconsin. The Republicans have lost the independents. They can't win in swing districts; they can't even win in districts that lean Republican. All the savvy non-Beltway political pros are betting they'll lose between 50 and 75 seats. Some say 80. And the most daring say if the DCCC would just sit still and stop interfering, Democrats could take close to 100 seats.

Former NRCC chairman Tom Davis of Virginia is a straight shooter. He told Roll Call that Ryan's retirement is "reminiscent of the rats leaving the ship, you know? The model for Gingrich, the model for Hastert, is you run for re-election and then you resign because you’re urging members to run and you run yourself. Paul has certainly earned the right to retire… But as the team leader-- you don’t want the captain leaving the ship." Immediately after Ryan announced he's leaving, Dennis Ross (R-FL) announced he was jumping ship as well.

Name a category of bribe givers to Congress. Almost every single one finds Ryan as the top recipient of their bribes. Wall Street-- Paul Ryan. Lawyers and lobbyists-- Paul Ryan. The health industry-- Paul Ryan. Energy and Natural Resources-- Paul Ryan. Construction-- Paul Ryan. Transportation-- Paul Ryan. Gun rights-- Paul Ryan. Hedge Funds-- Paul Ryan. Natural gas pipelines-- Paul Ryan. Retired-- Paul Ryan. Republicans need all that loot. And Ryan doesn't want to panic more of them into retiring. So he's lying about it.
House Republicans’ most prolific fundraiser is vowing to continue to do all he can to help them keep the majority in the midterms.

But Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s announcement Wednesday that he doesn’t want to be a part of that majority next year has only crystalized the perception that the House GOP is in for a drubbing in November.

“It’s over,” one GOP operative who’s worked on House and Senate races said... The short-term symbolism of Ryan’s retirement is a concern, but for most GOP campaign consultants, the biggest political impact of his departure will be what it does to fundraising for 2018 and beyond.

Vulnerable Republicans on Wednesday applauded Ryan’s decision to spend more time with his family and mostly shrugged off questions about whether this would cause more of them to retire.

“Actually, after two weeks at home, I feel really positive and encouraged,” said New York Rep. John J. Faso, one of the party’s most vulnerable members.

The filing deadline for New York is Thursday. Filing deadlines for other states, including Michigan, Florida, Kansas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, are coming up later this spring, so more members from those states could  choose to call it quits... Some Republicans see a certain incongruence in a leader asking imperiled members to run for re-election when he doesn’t even want to stick around.

GOP operatives largely agreed that Ryan’s departure won’t change the politics of 2018, when it comes to what issues are litigated at the ballot box.

Fundraising, on the other hand, is a different matter.

“The timing and execution of this decision is terrible,” one GOP operative who works on House races said in an email.

“There doesn’t appear to be any real transition plan, nor should we expect donors who were committed to helping the Speaker continue to be as engaged as they would have been. It is going to severely impact fundraising for members, candidates, the NRCC and outside groups,” he wrote.

Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, who chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee, predicted that Ryan will continue to be the House GOP’s biggest fundraiser through the end of the year.

“He tells me he’s going to keep fundraising,” Stivers said off the House floor Wednesday. “And he believes the people he talks to and his supporters will stay with him and help us.”

Team Ryan, the speaker’s political operation, will continue to raise funds for Ryan’s leadership PAC and the NRCC. Ryan has transferred more than $40 million to the NRCC this cycle. He also told GOP lawmakers Wednesday morning that he raised nearly $6 million during the two-week recess, according to three members who attended the conference meeting where he informed them of his decision to retire. His campaign committee will refund general contributions as required by law.

Several Republicans suggested that Ryan’s retirement could actually free him up to do even more campaigning and fundraising on behalf of members and candidates around the country this year.

But even if he continues to rake in the cash for 2018, there are still concerns about what comes after that. The biggest political hit, one GOP strategist said, will be to candidates and campaign committees in 2020.

“Leaders and members are going to have to step up next cycle to fill that void, which is easier said than done,” the strategist said, adding that Ryan had unique appeal across a wide swath of the party.

“His conservative fiscal beliefs play really well to Freedom Caucus donor types but also his pragmatic approach appeals to New York City donors,” the strategist said. “Depending on who takes his place, those are not easy audiences to appease at the same time.”

Democrats had already been making Ryan into a boogeyman this cycle.

Patriot Majority USA has released polling showing the speaker with job performance numbers worse than Trump’s in many districts Democrats are targeting.

“Saying ‘I’m going to vote for Paul Ryan’ wasn’t necessarily a plus in a swing district,” said Davis, a former NRCC chairman. “Nothing wrong with Paul, it’s just the nature of leaders.”

House Majority PAC, the major super PAC helping Democrats’ efforts to retake the House, has made Ryan the subject of much of its paid communication so far this cycle, releasing a national TV ad attacking him last month and running digital ads in targeted districts around the country tying Republicans to his agenda.

That message isn’t going away. “Even without Ryan on the ballot in Wisconsin this November, make no mistake-- Ryan’s agenda is going to be on the ballot in every district in the country,” House Majority PAC executive director Charlie Kelly said in a statement Wednesday.

Republicans, of course, are still banking on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi being unpopular around the country.
Although their numbers are comparable, polls show that Ryan is less popular in virtually every swing district. If he still wants to run for president someday-- and he does-- he needs to not be defeated by a union construction worker, he needs to not be seen as captain steering a ship that went to the bottom, and he needs to get away from the Trump shit-show.

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At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ryan has two years to find a heavyweight sponsor to form a drive for the White (Man's) House. I expect him to conduct such a search from K St or some other den of lobbyist iniquity.

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What political future?

His only in will be if trump DIES (if he is impeached or resigns, ryan becomes the last fellator of evil to bail) and pence gets caught blowing a donkey. I'm pretty sure pence doesn't blow that many donkeys. Not since his Indiana days anyway.

But don't lament for him. He'll write a book and make millions lying about his legacy. He'll do all the talk shows. Then he'll be a 8-figure per lobbyist for the kochs. His family will see less of him than they do now, which is a win for them.


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