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It’s All in the Family for Ryan on Speaker Day

Ryan with his wife, kids and mom at the 2012 Republican national convention. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Ryan with his wife, kids and mom at the 2012 Republican national convention. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:45 p.m. | It was a job he said he didn’t want — largely because of the toll it may take on his family.  

But as Paul D. Ryan claimed the speaker’s gavel, that is who surrounded him: His wife, Janna; their three kids: 13-year-old Liza, 12-year-old Charlie and 10-year-old Sam; his mother; siblings; and “more cousins than I can count on a few hands,” the Wisconsin Republican noted in his first words to the House chamber.  

Ryan entered to a standing ovation after having just won the speaker’s vote. His wife and daughter smiled, clapped enthusiastically and exchanged brief words with each other. After he was announced as the new speaker , nearly all in the chamber turned to look at his family. His wife mouthed, “Thank you.”  

Also in the Speaker’s Box were Ryan’s mother Betty Douglas, who achieved a bit of stardom in her own right when she campaigned for her son during his 2012 vice presidential bid; his sister Janet, brothers Stan and Tobin, as well as their families.  

Mitt Romney, who chose Ryan for his running mate, was also on hand with his wife, Ann. Romney said Ryan has the “judgment, the lack of ego, the intelligence and the humility to reach out within his own party to people who have different views and to reach across the aisle with people of good will who have differing views.”  

“He will listen and bring those ideas to the front, and I think you’ll see him be a very effective speaker,” Romney added.  

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who as a freshman House member in 1995 brought Ryan on as his legislative director, watched the speaker vote from the House floor.  

“When you see somebody you’re in the crucible with — we both came in the ’94 revolution, first time Republicans held the house in 40 years, he’s my LD. … When you come through that together and then to see somebody ascend to the speakership, it’s just a really wonderful moment,” Brownback said.  

Brownback also noted that Joanne Kemp, the widow of Ryan’s mentor, Jack Kemp, sat in the speaker’s box to watch the vote. “I was honored to be here,” Brownback said.  

Ryan’s wife declined comment, saying simply, “No, thank you,” when asked what the day meant to her family. Another female family member, who declined to identify herself, said it was “an important day for our family and our country.”  

Ryan wasn’t the only lawmaker with kids on the Hill.  

Several others — including Rep. Sean P. Duffy, R-Wis. — brought along children with them to the gallery for the historic day.  

When the House clerk called the name of Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., his 10-year-old son, Andrew, gleefully stood up and voted for Ryan, eliciting laughter from the gallery.  


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