U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik is one of many Republican members of Congress praising House Speaker Paul Ryan following his announcement Wednesday that he will not seek re-election this year.
Stefanik, R-Willsboro, has served with Ryan, R-Wisconsin, in the House since 2015. Before she was elected to Congress, she directed Ryan's preparations for the vice presidential debate in 2012.
In a statement, Stefanik called Ryan "a true friend and mentor."
"One of the greatest honors of my professional life has been working with and learning from Paul Ryan," she said. "He is humble, honest and thoughtful. He did not seek the job of speaker, but he stepped up to serve during a challenging time in our nation's history. Paul has challenged us all to raise our gaze, and he is deeply respected on both sides of the aisle because of his principles and commitment to the American idea."
Ryan cited family as his reason for not seeking re-election after nearly 20 years in Congress. He and his wife have three teen children.
At his weekly press conference, Ryan recalled not wanting to become speaker after John Boehner left the post in 2015. But he was urged by several of his colleagues to run for the position.
Ryan was elected speaker in October 2015.
He singled out two of his biggest legislative achievements: the tax legislation that Congress approved and President Donald Trump signed in December and rebuilding the U.S. military.
"I have accomplished much of what I came here to do and my kids aren't getting any younger," he said. "If I stay, they will only know me as a weekend dad."
Ryan's announcement comes as Republicans are facing a tough fight to retain control of the House of Representatives. Several GOP members have either retired or are facing tough re-election campaigns.
When asked about the impact of the midterm elections on his decision, Ryan said politics wasn't a factor.