There was no Eric Cantor-style upset in a businessman’s bid to oust House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in that state’s GOP primary Tuesday night.
After last week’s tussle over whether GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump would support Ryan, after Trump thanked Paul Nehlen for his support, Ryan easily beat back a challenge from Nehlen.
With 86 percent of precincts reporting, Ryan had 84 percent of the vote to Nehlen’s 16 percent.
Nehlen made a last-ditch effort with a campaign ad comparing Ryan to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and an appeal to voters to “save America from Speaker Ryan’s dangerous globalist agenda.”
“Can’t thank you all enough for the support over these past four months. Truly an amazing journey thanks to all of you,” Nehlen tweeted after returns showed his loss. “We very likely stopped TPP and damaged Paul Ryan’s ability to continue growing government. That’s the beginning of a fight we’re ready to get started.”
Ryan said he was “humbled that so many want to see me continue to work on their behalf.”
He added that voters want someone “inclusive, not divisive” who will “tackle our tough problems.”
“In times as uncertain as these it’s easy to resort to division… that stuff sells but it doesn’t stick… most of all, it doesn’t work.”
Ryan vowed to “make sure that the status quo — which is not good enough — will not continue” on Capitol Hill.
He wrapped up thanking his “employers,” aka his constituents, before taking some questions from local reporters.
Ryan was asked if Nehlen’s resounding defeat was a bellwether for whether Donald Trump was “doomed” in the general election.
“I don’t think it means he’s doomed in November,” Ryan replied, arguing that his strong victory over a primary challenger just reflected his deep local roots. “I say what I mean and I don’t do it in a mean way… that’s why I think I won.”
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus issued a statement congratulating “my friend Paul Ryan on a well-earned victory.”
“Speaker Ryan’s commitment to faithfully representing the people of Wisconsin and making the case for conservatism have never changed, and his years of principled public service make him a trusted leader in our party,” Priebus said. “I know Paul will continue to articulate his vision for a confident and strong America, and I look forward to seeing him return to Congress for another term as Speaker of the House.”