Read Steve Scalise's statement on Paul Ryan retirement

Speaker Ryan to retire leaving big election-year GOP vacuum

His retirement could trigger more such announcements, imperilling the party's chances in the elections.

We can't say for sure whether that's really Ryan's primary motive against seeking re-election in November 2018. But Ryan downplayed that it would be a distraction.

Lawmakers had expected Mr Ryan might leave Congress if Republicans lose the House in November.

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in 2018. "We are with you Paul!"

The discussions about Ryan's future have been closely held, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Last month, Trump slammed Congress over the $1.3 trillion spending bill, which Ryan played a key role in crafting, over its failure to include funding for Trump's border wall and a fix for the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA).

"Before I was elected to the Senate I served with Paul Ryan in the House and have spent many years working with him on behalf of the people of Wisconsin".

"We know the speakers have served a fairly lengthy period", Sabato said.

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"It's always weighed heavily on him. and at a moment like this when his kids are reaching the same age as when his father passed away, it's especially poignant", the person familiar with the decision told reporters.

Ryan credited his own good conscience for not going that route: "Just as my conscience is what got me to take this job in the first place, my conscience wouldn't let me go out that way", he simpered at his presser. But Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, suggested it might not be realistic for Ryan to remain in the top leadership position, noting the race to succeed him will begin "immediately".

The number two Republican, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, is a frontrunner for the speaker's job, should the party maintain its majority. Asked to what degree Trump's presidency influenced his decision not to seek re-election, Ryan said, "Not at all".

The Ryan campaign, one of the most prolific and battle-tested finance juggernauts in politics, will decide how to hand off the keys to a war chest worth millions of dollars, a Republican strategist close to leadership circles told CNBC.

The Ohio Republican, who retired from politics in 2015, once said he was "unalterably opposed" to legalising marijuana.

Ryan's ascension to the Speaker's office three years ago didn't fool us ... Even then, McCarthy must prove himself acceptable to the conservatives who derailed his speakership campaign in 2015, or he could fall short of the votes he needs to win the gavel, paving the way for Scalise, who is perceived as being more ideologically rigorous.

Senator Ron Johnson (R) had praise for Ryan's efforts.

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