Timeline: Paul Ryan's 20 year political career

Paul Ryan was one of the youngest people to ever hold one of the top jobs in the U.S. Government. He rose quickly in the Republican Party, that's why it's surprising for some people to learn he's stepping away at the age of 48.

"My 5th generation roots combined with the kind of experience I've had in Washington make me a well-qualified candidate to work for the taxpayers in this district," a 28-year-old Paul Ryan said in an interview back on Sept. 9, 1998.

That message helped elect Ryan to the U.S. House of Representatives 20 years ago.

"People knew what I stood for," Ryan said in an interview on Nov. 4, 1998. "I crisscrossed the district on a grassroots campaign telling people what I believed in. I think that's what won at the end of the day."

Before that election, he was relatively unknown. Graduating from Miami of Ohio in 1992. Entering politics a few years later, as a political aide and speechwriter.

Once elected to Congress, Ryan became Chairman of the House Budget Committee and was a favorite of fiscal conservatives. 2012 Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney announced Ryan as his running mate for Vice-President. They crisscrossed the country campaigning but lost to President Barrack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Ryan remained popular in his home state of Wisconsin, winning reelection to the House by a landslide in 2014.  The next year, he was called on to become Speaker of the House when John Boehner retired. Ryan initially refused the nomination, but later agreed to the new role. He was sworn in on October 29, 2015, and became the youngest speaker to be elected since the 1800's. A few months later Donald Trump became president. 

When he initially declined the Speaker of the House nomination, it was because he didn't want to sacrifice time with his family. Now, time with family is the reason he gives for retiring from politics when his term is up in January. He's been married to his wife, Janna, for 18 years. They have a daughter and two sons - all in their teens. Ryan, himself, lost his father at the age of 16. 

Print this article Back to Top