ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:
In the wake of the surprise announcement that Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., will not run for reelection in 2012, Wisconsin lawmaker Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget committee, says he will take some time to decide whether to run for the open seat.
“I was surprised by Senator Kohl’s announcement and want to take some time over the next few days to discuss this news with my family and supporters before making any decision about how I’m best able to serve my employers in the First Congressional District, our state and nation,” Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Despite their political differences, Ryan, the architect of the Republicans’ “Path to Prosperity” budget resolution, also praised Kohl for his service to Wisconsin.
"In over two decades of service in the Senate, Herb Kohl has done much to help the great state of Wisconsin and the lives of its residents," Ryan said. "While Senator Kohl and I have had our policy disagreements in the past, he has always had my respect. It has been a privilege to work with him over the years, and I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Ryan, who is serving in his seventh term in the House, devised Republicans’ “Path to Prosperity,” which would transform Medicare into a block grant program. A vote on the measure passed the House on April 15.
The measure is sure to be a political lightening rod in the 2012 election, with Democrats already fiercely pounding at the plan they say would “end Medicare as we know it.”
Although the resolution is unlikely to pass in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to bring to the bill up for a vote soon in order to put Senate Republicans on the record on the controversial plan.
Kohl, a four-term senator, became the sixth Senate Democrat to announce retirement this election cycle.
Kohl is one of the wealthiest Members of Congress well-known as the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team, which he purchased in 1985. Kohl amassed his fortune from his family-owned business, Kohl's grocery and department stores, which he sold in 1979. He is also a distinguished philanthropist, donating $25 million to the University of Wisconsin in the mid-90s to build a basketball arena, which was named in his likeness: “The Kohl Center.”
ABC News’ Matthew Jaffe contributed to this report