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2018 Midterms

In the Hot Seat: Is Paul Ryan Vulnerable to Being Voted Out of Office?

At this point, the speaker is merely a sycophant to the president and two Democrats are battling to take him on.

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It’s no secret that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is unpopular.

He clearly has no appeal to Democrats, but his blind support of President Trump has angered some of his fellow Republicans as well. Many within the party are also upset because Ryan and the GOP have yet to achieve many of the key campaign promises they made during the 2016 election campaigns.

At this point, the speaker is merely a sycophant to the president that lost any sense of morality he once had to further promote the destructive policies coming out of the executive branch. Congress is theoretically supposed to act as a check on the president’s power, but it’s clear that Speaker Ryan will do nothing to stop Trump regardless of what the consequences may be.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)

His lack of leadership and outright cowardice combine to make him unworthy of his power. But unseating him won’t be easy. There are reports that the speaker will retire from Congress before the election, but he has denied them so far

However, there is hope in the darkness. There are two Democratic candidates running in the primary in Wisconsin’s 1st district.

Randy Bryce is a union iron worker that gained national attention with his initial campaign video that focuses heavily on the incumbent Republican. He has since received the endorsement of Bernie Sanders and raised over two million dollars through the end of 2017. He has never held elected office.

Cathy Myers is a school teacher in Wisconsin that served multiple terms on the Janesville, WI school board. She has raised just over two hundred thousand dollars so far, but has yet to receive the national attention of her primary opponent Bryce.

Both agree that the target in the election is Paul Ryan. But that does not mean that this is not a contentious primary on the Democratic side.

Myers says that she is the most electable candidate in the race because she won the election for the school board multiple times. In contrast, Bryce ran for state senate twice and lost each time to his Republican opponent.

The two have also sparred because Bryce has yet to fully commit to a debate with Myers despite it being a contested primary. While his campaign did not yet commit to the specific proposed dates, Myers said that this shows her opponent wants to convince voters that he’s the only person running in the primary rather than prove he’s the best candidate for the job.

The primary election in Wisconsin is not until August, so the two still have plenty of time to schedule such debates. And it is incredibly vital to do so because the best overall candidate must win in order to have a chance to take down Paul Ryan.

It is one thing to garner an enormous amount of national attention through impressive social media campaigns and videos, but to win, the candidate must do much more than that. While the ultimate job is still to defeat the incumbent, the candidate with the best ideas and experience should take on Ryan in November. This proposed series of debates will only enhance the voters ability to choose the right person for the job.

The general election against Ryan will be incredibly difficult for the candidate that wins the primary as the speaker’s power won’t be taken away from him easily. Despite the poor job he’s done as both a leader in government, Ryan still maintains a fairly strong approval rating in his district.

He has been in the seat since 1998 and the district remains a deep red area. Donald Trump won the district over Hilary Clinton in 2016 by a margin of over 10 percent.

Still, Ryan is not what he once was.

The speaker has continued to go along with the president regardless of public opinion. This could cost him come election time. But because the district is still largely in favor of him, it is hard to see Bryce or Myers gaining enough traction in the generally short time period between the general election and the Democratic primary.

Of course, the future cannot be predicted. It is very possible that Ryan could still retire, but it seems unlikely given the needs of the GOP as they hope to retain power in both chambers of congress following the 2018 midterms.

It seems as though Speaker Ryan will be around for another term as long as he wants to be. Nothing is guaranteed, and support for the Democratic challenger will be vital going forward. If the Democratic candidate is able to energize the portion of voters that feel disenfranchised by Ryan’s disastrous policies, then it is possible for Ryan to lose his power. But it won’t be easy.

This uncertainty proves that Democrats cannot focus all of their energy into one race that will be extremely difficult to pull off.

Instead, the party should support challengers in each race equally rather than focusing on taking down a specific powerful individual. In doing so, they would allow for more ideas and possibilities to be heard rather than focusing on a few key races.

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Lauren Grimaldi is a senior political science student at Roosevelt University in Chicago. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the Roosevelt Torch, the school's student run newspaper. When she graduates in May, she hopes to find work in policy reform, political campaigns, or writing. Follow her on Twitter @laurengrimaldi_ to learn more about her obsession with politics and baseball.

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