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Paul Ryan’s move sets other players in motion

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
May 18, 2011

Rep. Paul Ryan’s announcement Tuesday that he won’t run for the U.S. Senate sets up much of the political chessboard for 2012.


Ryan told the Gazette he is committed to running for his eighth term in the House of Representatives in November 2012.


Ryan’s announcement opened the door for other Republicans who are considering a bid to replace Sen. Herb Kohl, who will not run for re-election in 2012.


Former Gov. Tommy Thompson is among the GOP candidates interested in running for Senate, according to press reports.


“He and others were waiting for my decision. It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to make a quick decision, because I didn’t want to freeze the field and prevent other folks from getting in the race,” Ryan said.


Ryan said he talked over the weekend to “just about every (GOP) leader there is,” including U.S. senators, and received lots of encouragement to run for Senate.


“They obviously want to take back the Senate seat and win back the U.S. Senate,” Ryan said.


Ryan resisted that pressure, however, and said it’s a comfort to him that there are other Wisconsin Republicans who could do the job. He said it’s too early to throw his support behind anyone.


Ryan said he also consulted family and friends, and the consensus was that he would have more impact on the debate about the nation’s economic future as chairman of the House Budget Committee than as a junior senator.


Ryan’s plan to fix what he calls a historic debt and spending crisis has drawn the attention of political leaders across the spectrum, including President Obama. No discussion of the top issues can sidestep Ryan’s ideas on changing Medicare and cutting government spending.


“I just feel I can be far more effective staying where I am and in the leadership role that I have, affecting the debate, which I thinks speaks to the future of our country, our economy and our prosperity,” Ryan said.


“I really believe we need make a very important decision in America about what kind of country we want to be for the 21st century, and the way in which we deal with this spending and debt crisis will literally determine the kind of country we are coming out of it,” Ryan added. “That’s what I want to focus on, and that’s why I want to remain the chairman of the budget committee.


A Democrat expected to run against Ryan for the 1st Congressional District seat, meanwhile, said Ryan’s support for tax cuts for the richest and his ideas for changing Medicare mean that Ryan is not the person for the job.


Rob Zerban of Kenosha said former President George Bush’s eight years in office led to the current recession. Zerban sought to tie Ryan to what he calls Bush’s failed policies.


Tax cuts did not produce jobs under Bush, Zerban said, and they won’t produce jobs under Ryan’s plan.


Meanwhile, job losses in the 1st District have been “epic,” Zerban said.


Zerban said the solution should start with getting rid of the Bush tax cuts. Congress extended those cuts in December.


“You can’t be supportive of the Bush tax cuts in December and come out in April and pretend you are the budget hawk,” Zerban said of Ryan.


Zerban said he is pleased with his fundraising so far and hinted that his formal announcement could come soon—perhaps at the Democrats’ state convention June 2-4.



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