The University of Virginia’s Center for Politics says Rep. Paul Ryan is still likely to win his re-election race this fall, but it’s not as sure a bet as it was earlier.
The center publishes Sabato’s Crystal Ball, which analyzes all the House races and gives them ratings. Sabato’s had rated Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District as “Safe Republican,” but now the rating is “Likely Republican.”
Sabato’s Managing Editor Kyle Kondik said the change is mostly based on suggestions that Ryan might retire from the House this year.
Politico magazine in December speculated Ryan is ready to end his House career.
Ryan said that idea has not crossed his mind and that he always decides about running for re-election after talking to his wife later in the election cycle.
Ryan must decide by June 1, the filing deadline to be placed on the ballot.
“It’s worth remembering that a ‘Likely Republican’ rating still means that Ryan is a significant favorite, and this is mostly about his future plans,” Kondik said in an email. “If and when he announces his re-election, we would consider moving it back to ‘Safe Republican,’ although one wonders what the political environment will look like whenever that announcement comes.”
Kondik continued: “I do think there is something to the idea that he may not be long for the House, and 2018 likely will be a more challenging year than most. But if he’s on the ballot, he will be very hard to beat.”
Kondik’s published analysis notes the current political environment nationwide leans toward Democrats.
Two Democrats are actively running to win their party’s primary election for the chance to take on Ryan: Cathy Myers of Janesville and Randy Bryce of Caledonia.
“Ironworker Randy Bryce (D), one of Ryan’s potential general election challengers, has become a minor celebrity on the left, and he raised more than $1 million in the last quarter, a lot of money for a House candidate (though he burned through almost all of what he raised last quarter, which calls into question how he is running his campaign),” Kondik wrote. “Still, in a big-wave environment, it’s not impossible that Ryan could be vulnerable, particularly because voters don’t seem to reward senior leaders the way they used to ...”
Bryce’s campaign responded, saying it used its early donations to build “a sustainable fundraising structure.” It said that strategy paid off with 125 percent growth in its donor list between the third and fourth quarters of 2017 and raising $1.2 million in the fourth quarter and another $1.5 million in the first two months of 2018.
Myers raised $235,627 by the end of 2017 but said she raised more than $300,000 in the past two weeks. She said her latest campaign video was viewed more than 1 million times.
Ryan campaign spokesman Jeremy Adler said in an email: “Southeastern Wisconsinites know Paul and know he’s fighting to make life better for them. Just like the previous nine elections he’s won by impressive margins, we have no doubt that he’ll be comfortably re-elected because he always puts the best interest of the 1st District first.”
Sabato’s, like so many other political prognosticators, was wrong about the 2016 presidential election, saying Hillary Clinton would win. It also predicted that Wisconsin was “Likely Democratic.”
Wisconsin was one of Donald Trump’s key victories.
A third Democrat might be seeking the nomination. Christopher Guerrero of Waukesha recently registered with the state Elections Commission, but The Gazette was unable to find any information about him. Matt Lowe, chairman of the Waukesha County Democratic Party, said he had never heard of him.