President Donald Trump's unpopularity is already negatively impacting the Republican Party's chances in 2018, said Politico on Wednesday.
A number of high-profile Republicans have announced that they are retiring at the end of their term and GOP candidates are walking away from races all over the country ahead of what many predict will be a "blue tsunami" in 2018.
Politico's Gabriel Debenedetti said that the GOP has also failed to recruit quality candidates for upcoming races.
“No one wants to be a sacrificial lamb, but [Republicans] don’t even appear to be trying in some of these states,” said Shripal Shah of American Bridge -- a Democratic super PAC. "It’s not a missed opportunity. It’s malpractice.”
In addition to Ryan, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) have announced they will not be seeking re-election. House member Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) is stepping down after getting caught paying taxpayer money to settle a sex harassment case.
In New York, both of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)'s strongest Republican challengers have dropped out of the race. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have seen challengers run from the prospect of losing to them in 2018.
Republican strategist Jonathan Felts told Politico that Pres. Trump's historically low popularity ratings have hamstrung the effort to recruit new candidates.
"Having sat there and done that recruitment in a tough time: If the president has bad numbers, that’s a challenge,” Felts said.
In Virginia, Republicans have struggled to find a candidate to face former Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine. The two most likely contenders at this juncture are state delegate Corey Stewart -- a former Trump campaign official in the state -- and far-right Christian zealot Rev. E. W. Jackson.
Jackson is a virulently anti-LGBT official with the Family Research Council (FRC), which was designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He has accused the ACLU of being run by demonic forces and has denounced yoga as a gateway to witchcraft.
“That’s the state of the Republican Party,” said Susan Swecker of the Virginia Democratic Party. “No one wants to run on a ticket when you have Donald Trump as the head of your party.”