Paul Ryan Declines Senate Bid

ABC News' John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports: Just a couple of days after Senate Democrat Herb Kohl announced his plans to retire from elected office at the end of his term in 2012, Rep. Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget committee, has ended speculation that he might run for the open seat.

"For my family and me, the most important factor in making this decision was determining where I could make the biggest difference. Our nation is quickly approaching a debt crisis that will do serious damage to Wisconsinites and all Americans if it is not properly addressed," Ryan, R-Wis., stated. "I believe continuing to serve as chairman of the House Budget Committee allows me to have a greater impact in averting this debt-fueled economic crisis than if I were to run for the United States Senate."

Ryan, a seven-term lawmaker in the House of Representatives, says he will instead run for reelection for his seat representing the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin.

In the wake of the surprise announcement last week that Kohl, D-Wis., would not run for reelection in 2012, Ryan, the architect of the Republicans’ “Path to Prosperity” budget resolution, had said he would take some time to decide whether to run for the open seat.

It sure didn’t take too long to think about.

While Ryan said he is “grateful for the tremendous outpouring of encouragement” that he received after Kohl’s announcement, ultimately there is more work to be done in the House.

“House Republicans have taken bold steps forward in tackling our fiscal and economic challenges – we have led, where others have not,” Ryan stated. “I want to keep building on this progress.”

The “Path to Prosperity, which passed the House on April 15, is sure to be a political lightening rod in the 2012 election, with Democrats already fiercely pounding at the plan they say would “end Medicare as we know it.”

Although the resolution is unlikely to pass in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to bring to the bill up for a vote soon in order to put Senate Republicans on the record on the controversial plan.

Republican Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin governor and HHS secretary for President George W. Bush, is expected to run for the seat, although Thompson has also played with the idea in the past, including the race where Ron Johnson eventually defeated Russ Feingold in 2010. Democratic supporters are also encouraging Feingold to launch a campaign to return to the Senate.

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