The Congressional Leadership Fund, the big-money Republican super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, has already set up shop in Washington’s 5th and 8th congressional districts.
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s retirement announcement spurred Washington Democrats to crow about a swelling blue wave in the 2018 midterms, while local Republicans largely downplayed the impact.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, the fourth-ranking House Republican and a close Ryan ally, praised his record.
“America stands on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before us because they put country first. That’s what Speaker Ryan has modeled for all of us,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
McMorris Rodgers rejected speculation she might join Ryan and the more than two dozen other Republicans in Congress who have decided to retire rather than face voters this fall. Ashley Stubbs, her campaign spokeswoman, said in an email McMorris Rodgers is certain to remain in the race.
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McMorris Rodgers faces her toughest re-election challenge to date, against former state Senate Democratic leader Lisa Brown, who touted an independent poll Wednesday showing her trailing, but within striking distance.
Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, said Ryan’s decision “is going to boost everyone’s spirits” and is “further evidence of a blue wave for 2018, particularly in the House.”
In Washington’s closely watched 8th Congressional District race, Democratic candidate Kim Schrier released a statement saying Ryan could not defend the House Republican agenda to voters.
“Americans want leaders who will stand up for their constituents, not act as rubber stamps on Donald Trump’s backwards policies. Paul Ryan’s retirement is a great sign for our campaign in the 8th District and for Democrats across the country,” said Schrier, a pediatrician who is competing with rival Democrats including attorney Jason Rittereiser and public-health leader Shannon Hader in the August primary.
The 8th District has only elected Republicans to represent it in Congress. But the district has favored Democrats in presidential races, and has been considered a tossup since Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, announced his own retirement last fall.
Dino Rossi, the former Republican state senator and three-time statewide candidate looking to succeed Reichert, portrayed Ryan’s departure not as trouble for the GOP — but as further evidence of dysfunction in the nation’s Capitol.
“Representatives in both parties have left office in large numbers over the past few election cycles, and many have cited the toxic, partisan environment that’s taken hold in Washington, D.C., for far too long,” Rossi said in a statement. “I entered the race for the 8th District because I’ve shown the ability to defuse angry partisanship and bring people together to solve problems, and those skills are needed now more than ever.”
John Murray, a Seattle-based public-affairs consultant who was deputy chief of staff to former Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, predicted Ryan’s departure will not hamper Republican candidates.
“He has done a tremendous job of fundraising already. It’s not like there is going to be a big hiccup,” Murray said.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, the big-money Republican super PAC aligned with Ryan, has already set up shop in Washington’s 5th and 8th congressional districts.
Still, Murray acknowledged “the environment is tough” for Republicans. “Anybody who says it isn’t is not shooting straight.”
Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who worked with Ryan on a bipartisan budget deal in 2013, said she got to know him well then, “and while we frequently found areas of disagreement, I have tremendous respect for his commitment to public service and for his willingness to work with me to find common ground and move away from the constant crises.
“In that spirit, I hope that he spends the rest of his time as Speaker working to make meaningful progress for families and the middle class,” Murray said in a statement.
Correction: A previous version of this story gave an incorrect first name for 8th District Democratic candidate Shannon Hader.