PAUL RYAN: A VERY YOUNG SPEAKER
The jury is still out of likely House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan. Is he a good conservative, not conservative enough, or Republican in name only? Hatchet man or healer?Whatever the description, there is one reality about Mr. Ryan that can’t be disputed: “The 45-year old Ryan will go down in the books as the youngest Speaker in nearly 150 years — the youngest to hold the position since Maine Republican James Blaine in 1869,” notes the ever-vigilant Eric Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota political professor who doggedly tracks historical trends in politics.
“He would be younger than each of the last 26 speakers, from Democrat Michael Kerr of Indiana in 1875 through John Boehner,” the professor says, who notes that the average age of House speakers has been 62. But Mr. Ryan would not be the youngest of all.
“That title goes to Virginia Whig Robert Hunter, who was elected to the post at the age of 30 years, 7 months, and 25 days in 1839. The oldest in the chamber’s history was Illinois Democrat Henry Rainey in 1933 at 72 years, 6 months, 17 days,” the exacting Mr. Ostermeier says. “In the 18th through the mid-19th Century it was not uncommon for the House to elect Speakers who were shy of the age of 40. Prior to the Civil War, 12 House members in addition to Hunter won the speakership in their 30s.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan is the youngest speaker in 150 years, according to a