House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Wednesday announced that he would not seek reelection -- and Republicans are now starting to freak out about imminent doom in this year's midterm elections.
In an interview with the New York Times, former Rep. Thomas M. Davis (R-VA) said that Ryan's decision to step down after his current term could portend disaster and crush Republican morale heading into this fall's elections.
"This is the nightmare scenario," he said. "Everybody figured he'd just hang in there till after the election."
Similarly, Axios reports that "one of Washington's best-wired Republicans" thinks Ryan's announcement could be the final nail in coffin for the House GOP's majority.
"This is a Titanic, tectonic shift," the source said. "This is going to make every Republican donor believe the House can’t be held."
Ryan's retirement also makes it more likely that a Democrat could pick up his seat this November, as Ryan was already facing a well funded challenge from Randy Bryce, an iron worker and union representative who raised an impressive $2.1 million last quarter to challenge the outgoing Republican leader to represent Wisconsin's first congressional district.
With Ryan not running again, election forecasters at the Cook Political report have shifted WI-01 from being a "Solid R" district to only being a "Lean R," while Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has shifted it from "Likely Republican" to "Toss-up."