Paul Ryan has become the latest Republican lawmaker to flee the sinking ship that has become the Trump-tanic. This morning he announced that he would not seek re-election to the United States House of Representatives not only creating a power vacuum in the House Republican leadership but adding to the number of open seats that the Democrats can pick up to take control of the lower house of Congress in November.
That brings the number of House Republicans that are not seeking reelection up to 25 as of today. When you consider two numbers 24 and 41, you can see why 45 is worried.
Twenty-four and Forty-one
Only 24 seats separate the Republican majority and the Democratic minority. Ryan’s departure makes a House flip more possible. Now, in many circumstances, it would be reasonable to assume that even in a midterm election, that not all 25 seats would flip. The problem is that 41 Republican seats currently can be called competitive.
So to keep control of the House, Republicans would need to not lose more than 24 seats in districts that are open or highly competitive. Near impossible odds.
That means that Donald Trump will need to spend the next few months pushing hard across the country to make a miracle happen in November. He will need to do the impossible. Keep at least 18 of these districts Red. That means more talking and less tweeting.
That alone might be too much for Trump.
Push the agenda early
The other option for Trump, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell might be in aggressive voting this summer. It is not out of the question for Republicans while they have the numbers to try and ram their entire agenda through the Congress and onto his desk for signing before November.
After all, it is harder to undo legislation when you have a Congress of one party and President of the other.
Just look at Republicans and their fifty-something votes on Obamacare.
Unfortunately, that is almost impossible after today.
All thanks to Paul Ryan.
It is not uncommon for a lame duck President or even a lame duck Congress to push through legislation.
But a dead duck Speaker?
This summer you will be seeing many Republicans that are looking over their shoulders. A record number of Democrats have filed for office. Republicans that have never before had a challenger have not only a Democrat but in some cases a primary challenger.
They will not be eager to back legislation that could hurt them in November.
In many cases, a strong Speaker could offer spoils or threaten committee assignments to keep his rank and file in line.
A House Speaker that not only will not be in the majority but not even in the House, has nothing to bargain or threaten with.
There is nothing Ryan can offer up to skittish House Republicans to deliver a vote on the budget Trump wants. There are no bargaining chips to build the wall, there is no special plea that the White House can push through House leadership to stave off political embarrassment.
At this point, every Republican leader in the House that is not retiring is looking at one position, House Republican Leader. If the Republicans hold on to the House by some miracle, that person is the next Speaker. If not then they are House Minority Leader with a chance at being Speaker in 2020.
Did Paul Ryan just cast a vote for Trump’s Impeachment?
There is another consideration to the decision by Paul Ryan not to seek re-election. And that consideration is named Robert Mueller.
Any attempts at firing him to stop his investigation will be met with an outcry from House Democrats and House Republicans in competitive districts.
They cannot be bought with pork when they understand that they might not be around to enjoy the bacon.
Mueller is now safe to continue is investigation unimpeded by any House interference. You may even see a House resolution protecting Mueller as the spring and summer drags on.
Should Trump be crazy enough to channel Nixon and fire Mueller, Ryan will not have the power to slow or stop Articles of Impeachment.
Ryan in his own way by saving his own skin might have saved the Republic.