Paul Ryan on Tuesday defended his decision to remain speaker through Election Day, telling his GOP colleagues he’ll be able to raise even more money now that he doesn’t have to focus on his own reelection effort.
The Wisconsin Republican, who announced his retirement last week, argued in a closed-door conference meeting that he’ll have more time to fly around the country and fundraise for House candidates, GOP lawmakers in the room said.
“He is still committed, until the end of his term, to raise resources and help the common cause,” said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), summarizing Ryan’s message. “Matter of fact, he noted that since he won’t be campaigning in Wisconsin, he’ll have more time to raise money.”
Added Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas): “He’s scheduling additional fundraiser over the summer because he will not be back in Wisconsin as much. … He’s going to take advantage of that time to raise more money for folks who need that.”
Ryan’s pitch comes as some Republicans whisper worries that his retirement announcement will cripple his fundraising prowess amid an already difficult midterm cycle for the party. Ryan has noted that he's raised more than any speaker — and that no Republican in the conference can top his money machine.
But there’s still fear in some corners of the GOP conference that donors will hold back because they want to curry favor with someone who will lead the party in the future, not a lame duck leaving Washington next year.
The fundraising question could become the decisive factor in whether Ryan stays through the entire year. If donors balk, the push to have an early vote to replace Ryan could come sooner.