Experts, Republicans weigh in on Paul Ryan decision

Possible new role brings challenges for Ryan's political future

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has announced his intention to accept the role of speaker of the House if he’s elected to the position.

Ryan’s decision once again puts Wisconsin at the forefront of the national political scene.

La Crosse County Republican Chairman Bill Feehan, said Ryan’s announcement should give Republicans around the state a reason to celebrate.

“I think it’s fair to say that Paul Ryan is Wisconsin Republicans’ favorite son,” said Feehan. “There’s a lot of excitement about the possibility of him being the speaker of the House.”

Ryan’s ability to unite the party, according to UW-La Crosse political science associate professor Tim Dale, is what makes him most desirable.

“One of the reasons people were pushing so hard for Paul Ryan as a speaker, is that there is no other member of the House right now that has a chance at getting the unity,” said Dale. “At least something close to unity that Paul Ryan has.”

For someone with potential aspirations for something more than speaker of the House, some said it’s too big of a challenge.

“Approval rating for Congress is always going to be 10 percent, 11 percent, probably even lower than that. The speaker of the House is seen as the figurehead for Congress. So if people disapprove of Congress, they’re going to blame the speaker, whether it’s the speaker’s responsibility or not,” said Dale.

“I’ve been fond of telling folks back home, outside of the president, the speaker of the house has the most difficult job in Washington these days,” said Wisconsin Rep. Ron Kind.

Local Republicans agree, and said factions in the party must come together in order to be effective.

“You’re always going to have people with different opinions, so your job as the speaker is the unify those people, and to pass legislation,” said Feehan. “It’s important that if Paul Ryan does become speaker, that Republicans unite behind him.”

Regardless of his future ambitions, Republicans in La Crosse remain optimistic of Paul Ryan becoming the speaker.

“I think he’s the right man for the job, I’m not sure I’d want that job, but I do believe he’s a great leader,” said Feehan. “I think we’ll be in good hands with Paul Ryan as our speaker.”

According to Dale, the conditions set forth by Ryan, including extra time for his family, will be the biggest factor in whether he will be elected.

Current House Speaker John Boehner has set Wednesday, Oct. 28 as the date for the election.