Ryan’s announcement reverberates in Mass.

If House flips, state delegation well positioned

HOUSE SPEAKER PAUL RYAN announced on Wednesday that he was stepping down at the end of this term to spend more time with his family, but US Rep. Michael Capuano said other factors are probably at work as well.

“I do believe he hears the steps of the Democrats coming to take over the House,” Capuano said. “From a Democratic perspective, it’s all good.”

If the House flips Democratic in the midterm elections, the Massachusetts congressional delegation is well positioned to gain tremendous influence in Washington. Rep. Richard Neal would be in line to chair the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. James McGovern would take over the Rules Committee, and Capuano and Rep. Stephen Lynch would probably land chairmanships of key subcommittees.

Ways and Means and Rules are two of the most powerful committees in the House. “As the president would put it, that’s huge,” said James Brett, the president and CEO of the New England Council.

House Speaker Paul Ryan

Capuano, who will have served 20 years on Capitol Hill at the end of this term, said that if the Democrats retake the House he would most likely end up as chair of the housing and insurance subcommittee of Financial Services or the railroad, pipelines, and hazardous materials subcommittee of Transportation.

Capuano said he wasn’t sure if his seniority, and the potential leadership position it could yield if Democrats retake the House, would become a factor in his reelection campaign against primary challenger Ayanna Pressley, a Boston city councilor.

“It’s hard to tell,” he said, acknowledging that most voters don’t generally care about such issues. But he pointed out that “it’s inside baseball that should matter to the average voter. Like it or not, seniority matters in the House.”

Pressley issued a statement saying “the people of our district care far less about who has been in the halls of D.C. the longest or who is the biggest insider, than they do about who is going to stand up and give voice to the thousands of families in this district that have gone unseen and unheard while being gutted by years of regressive Republican policies.”

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

In his announcement, Ryan said he wanted to leave Capitol Hill to spend more time with his family. He said he would be leaving the House in good hands and expressed confidence the chamber would remain in Republican control.

But many analysts say Ryan’s departure, and the decision by more than 40 other House members to retire or seek other offices, reflects unease about the party’s chances in November. Shortly after Ryan’s announcement, Republican Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida announced he was also leaving after this term. Like Ryan, Ross said his decision was related to a desire to spend more time with his family.