Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Friday he would not seek to represent the 1st Congressional District in Washington, D.C.
Vos, R-Rochester, was considered a top contender among potential Republican candidates who could compete this year to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said this week he would not seek re-election.
“While I know that our nation’s capital desperately needs more conservative reformers from Wisconsin, Michelle and I have decided that we can do more good continuing to push state-based conservative reforms,” Vos said, referring to his wife, Michelle Litjens.
Vos’ announcement was the latest from a group of high-profile Wisconsin Republicans to reject a run.
Reince Priebus, former White House chief of staff for President Donald Trump; state Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva; state Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton; and Sen. David Craig, R-Town of Vernon, a former aide to Ryan, have all said they would not be launching a campaign to replace Ryan.
Meanwhile, University of Wisconsin Regent Bryan Steil and Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem, have said they are mulling whether to run to compete in a GOP primary against former U.S. Army Green Beret Nick Polce, of Lake Geneva, and Delavan businessman Paul Nehlen, who has drawn wide criticism — including from Republicans — for anti-Semitic and white nationalist remarks.
Steil, who used to work for Ryan, including as his chauffeur, has been courting top GOP donors for a potential run, according to a CNBC report using unnamed sources. Three former Rock County Republican Party chairmen Friday urged him to enter the race.
Ryan’s announcement was cause to celebrate for Democrats, who long have loathed his proposals to slash social safety net programs and cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations.
Wisconsin Democrats targeted Ryan with even greater intensity heading toward this year’s election. They touted his departure Wednesday as a sign of their momentum — and GOP weakness — heading into the 2018 cycle.
As of Friday, whichever Republican prevails as the candidate will face either Caledonia activist and ironworker Randy Bryce or Janesville School Board member Cathy Myers.
But that could change if former Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, of Kenosha, who also represented the district between 1993 and 1995, decides to run. Barca told Fox6 on Thursday he is considering it.