Paul Ryan Becomes Youngest House Speaker in 150 Years

Rep. Paul Ryan at the U.S. Capitol (AP Photo)
Rep. Paul Ryan at the U.S. Capitol (AP Photo)

The jury is still out on likely House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan. Is he a good conservative, not conservative enough or Republican in name only? Hatchet man or healer? Mr. Ryan appears to be the panacea the party prays for, described by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus as “the right person at the right time.” The opposition is also pleased; Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer called Mr. Ryan bright, industrious and even “outstanding” this week.

Whatever the description, there is one reality about Mr. Ryan that can’t be disputed.

“The 45-year-old Ryan will go down in the books as the youngest Speaker in nearly 150 years — the youngest to hold the position since Maine Republican James Blaine in 1869,” notes the ever-vigilant Eric Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota political professor who doggedly tracks historical trends in politics.

“He would be younger than each of the last 26 speakers, from Democrat Michael Kerr of Indiana in 1875 through John Boehner,” the professor says.

The average age of House speakers over the years has been 62. But Mr. Ryan would not be the youngest of all.

“That title goes to Virginia Whig Robert Hunter, who was elected to the post at the age of 30 years, 7 months and 25 days in 1839. The oldest in the chamber’s history was Illinois Democrat Henry Rainey in 1933 at 72 years, 6 months, 17 days,” the exacting Mr. Ostermeier says, adding that, prior to the Civil War, a dozen House members in addition to Hunter won the speakership while in their 30s.


Meanwhile, the speculative press has much to say about House Speaker-to-be Paul Ryan. Just a few headlines from the last 24 hours:

“Paul Ryan: The Haunted House doesn’t need a Speaker. It needs an exorcist” (Alabama Media Group); “Don’t call him Paul — it’s Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Politico), “Meet 11 Republicans who could make Paul Ryan’s job very difficult” (Washington Post), Will the speakership be the end of Paul Ryan? (Bloomberg News), “Paul Ryan doth protest too much” (The American Prospect), “What Paul Ryan can teach us about work-life balance” (The Fiscal Times), “Can Paul Ryan keep the manure out of the house barn?” (Roll Call), “Republicans like Paul Ryan — but will they turn on him?” (Gallup editorial).

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Source: The Washington Times | Jennifer Harper