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Speaker Ryan will not seek re-election in November

[WASHINGTON] Speaker Paul Ryan told House Republican colleagues Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in November, ending a brief stint atop the House and signaling the peril that the Republican majority faces in the midterm elections.

Mr Ryan told the House Republican Conference that he will serve until the end of this Congress in January, which will mark 20 years in Congress. But his retirement announcement is sure to kick off a succession battle for the leadership of the House Republican Conference, likely between the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, and the House majority whip, Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

It could also trigger another wave of retirements among Republicans not eager to face angry voters in the fall and taking their cue from Mr Ryan.

Mr Ryan's decision to quit caught many in the party by surprise. He had just hosted a donor retreat last week in Texas, and most officials believed he would not leave until after November.

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Explaining his decision to his Republican colleagues Wednesday morning at a meeting in the Capitol, a subdued Mr Ryan said he wanted to spend more time with his children, who live in the same town where the speaker grew up.

He pledged that he would help fellow Republicans extensively in the 2018 campaign and said he would continue raising money at a powerful pace, according to two lawmakers in the room. Mr Ryan has become the party's most important fundraiser in the House and Republicans have been counting on him to help them collect and spend tens of millions of dollars defending their majority this fall.

He pointed to the recently enacted overhaul of the tax code and increased military spending as his signal accomplishments.

Growing emotional at points, Ryan said family considerations weighed heavily on his retirement, explaining that his daughter was 13 when he became speaker and he did not want to be a remote figure in her teenage years.

Ryan is by far the most prominent figure fleeing Congress in a long season of Republican retirements. More than three dozen House Republicans are leaving the chamber to retire or seek other offices, including a number who have voiced concern about the 2018 elections and intense dissatisfaction with the state of Washington under President Donald Trump. Several others have resigned in personal scandals.