Could this be the end of the road for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.?
While recent rumors on Capitol Hill suggest Ryan is seriously considering resigning his post, the top Democrat seeking his seat is seriously raking in the dough.
In fact, Wisconsin Democrat challenger Randy Bryce is pulling in more cash than any challenger to Ryan in the last two decades.
Bryce's campaign says it raised $2.1 million at the end of the last fundraising quarter. That makes $4.75 million in total donations. Bryce also has $2.3 million in cash on hand.
"Paul Ryan has never been more vulnerable," Bryce campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt told Mediaite. "The speaker is facing a well-funded, well-organized opponent with broad support, locally and nationally, in an extremely anti-incumbent environment. He may just want to put those rumors to rest and bow out gracefully."
In 2016, Ryan won Wisconsin's 1st district with approximately 65 percent of the vote. And Donald Trump was victorious by double-digit margins.
But Bryce's people reference last month's special election in Pennsylvania to illustrate how an underdog Democrat can take a Republican seat even after 2016 proved so successful for the party. In that election, Democrat Conor Lamb managed a major upset in the heart of Trump country.
"Trump only won our district by 10; he won PA-18 by 19," Hitt said.
As WND reported, rumors have been swirling about a possible Ryan resignation, perhaps even by May.
"The rumor mill is that Paul Ryan is getting ready to resign in the next 30 to 60 days and that Steve Scalise will be the new speaker," Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., told Nevada Newsmakers on March 26, noting that he's sharing the current buzz on Capitol Hill.
"Now that is interesting because nobody has talked to members (of the U.S. House) on how they are going to vote (on new leadership)," Amodei said. "Now, maybe they have talked to all of the members but me. I don't know, so that is the rumor mill from last week."
The impending resignation was apparently news to Rep. Ryan's office, which denied that the House speaker has any intention of stepping down, at least not in the next few months.
"The speaker is not resigning," Ryan spokesman Doug Andres told CNN on March 26.
Rep. Scalise, R-La., who is currently the House majority whip, made headlines last June when he was badly wounded in a mass shooting at a congressional baseball practice. He returned to Capitol Hill in September.
After the latest rumors of Ryan's resignation circulated, Scalise spokeswoman Lauren Fine issued a March 26 statement in support of Ryan.
"Whip Scalise is proud to serve alongside Speaker Ryan, and fully supports him to remain speaker. Our whole leadership team is focused on working with President (Donald) Trump to deliver more conservative wins for the country, and also ensuring we keep the majority so we can continue implementing President Trump's agenda that is getting our economy back on track," her statement read.
Still, Rep. Ryan still hasn't revealed whether he intends to seek re-election this year. A person close to Ryan told the Associated Press just last week that the speaker is planning to file campaign paperwork.
"Paul Ryan's future as House speaker has been such a topic of speculation that even the simple question of whether he will seek re-election to his Wisconsin seat remains secret," the Associated Press reported March 29. "Officially, Ryan says he's still deciding. But a person familiar with Ryan's thinking told The Associated Press this week the speaker plans to file campaign paperwork and intends to win his seat. ...
"If Ryan emerges victorious, even those closest to him aren't certain he'll stay in Congress, particularly if Republicans lose their House majority. Asked whether Ryan would serve in the minority, the person who discussed his re-election plans with AP would not say."
Ryan's political spokesman, Jeremy Adler, told the AP Thursday, "The speaker speaks for himself on this topic, and there is no update to his last public comments."
Rumors of a Ryan resignation have been spreading for many months.
In fact, just months ago, some of Ryan's close friends told CNN he could leave Congress after the midterm elections in November.
"Some say his departure could possibly happen even sooner," CNN reported. "Some friends indicate that Ryan may be suffering from a bout of 'Trump-haustion,' but others believe there is serious contemplation of leaving Congress in 2018. ... Ryan particularly dislikes the toll the job takes on his family, according to multiple sources."
Also in December, Politico cited several unnamed sources who claimed Ryan has clearly stated that he "would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress."
"Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker," Politico reported. "He consults a small crew of family, friends and staff for career advice, and is always cautious not to telegraph his political maneuvers. But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan's inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker – fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists – not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018."
Rep. Amodei said, according to rumors, Ryan "wants to play on the national stage in some capacity or another."
But the congressman said it's unlikely that he'd serve in Trump's Cabinet or at the White House.
"I'm speculating from at least as far away as you are, and my speculation is this: The White House and Paul Ryan would probably not be a great fit," Amodei said, later adding, "I would be very surprised if there were open arms at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue for 'come on into the administration, Mr. Cheese Guy.'"
As WND reported in March 2017, the House speaker has been under fire since long before Trump was inaugurated, particularly due to his failure to get Obamacare repealed. The Hill reported days before the 2016 election, "Chatter is growing louder on Capitol Hill that Paul Ryan's days as speaker are numbered."