Janesville may be proud of its native son Paul Ryan, but that appreciation didn’t fully extend to the ballot box on Tuesday.
In his congressional race against Democrat Rob Zerban, Paul Ryan not only lost his hometown of Janesville, but also failed to take his own ward. With Ryan part of the national ticket this year, Paul Ryan the neighbor mattered less than Paul Ryan the politician, according to Carthage College political science professor Jerry Mast.
"This encourages people to look past personal characteristics of Mr. Ryan, and think a little bit more in depth about his qualifications on ideological levels," he says. "Looks at him in more political terms."
Even though he lost heavily Democratic Janesville, along with the cities of Kenosha and Racine, Ryan more than made up the difference with strong showings in more conservative areas of the district, such as those in Waukesha County and suburban Milwaukee, finishing with a nearly 12-point winning margin. Still, it was his closest race since first winning the seat, but it may also be his last, as his considers a possible presidential bid.
"In two years time, he may have bigger fish to fry, so to speak," he says. "So this may be his last term."
While Republicans may have to recruit possible Ryan replacement candidates, Zerban already on election night, was fielding questions about whether he’ll run again.
"I'm sure I'll think about it," he said. "I'm not exactly sure if I'll follow through on that, but I'm sure that Kenosha County and the local areas can count on me serving the community in one form or another."