Janesville, WI—Paul Ryan will finally make his way home to Janesville, Wisconsin, Monday. In anticipation of his nomination by the Republican National Convention for vice president, Ryan will headline a “send-off” rally at a local high school. Then he’ll try to make it to Tampa as Hurricane Isaac hits.
It’s significant that, even as his fellow Republicans rearrange their flight schedules, Ryan will finally find time to visit his hometown—two weeks after Mitt Romney tapped the House Budget Committee chairman as his running mate. The decision of the Romney-Ryan campaign to hold an initial “homecoming” rally more than sixty miles from Janesville, a blue-collar town that tends to vote the Democratic line, was duly noted by his constituents.
That’s problematic for Ryan, as he will not just be running with Romney in November.
The congressman is actually running two races:
1. As a junior member of the Republican presidential ticket that seeks to remove Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden from the White House.
2. As a Congressional incumbent who—despite his national candidacy—is still seeking a new term representing southeastern Wisconsin in the US House. Taking advantage of a Wisconsin law that allows contenders on a national ticket to remain on the ballot in their House races, Ryan is running a “have-it-all” re-election campaign that would allow him to stay in the House if the Romney-Ryan ticket loses.
Ryan’s focus is clearly on race No. 1.
The congressman has for all intents and purposes agreed to debate Biden. They’re set to face each other October 11 at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and it should be a great debate. Ryan and the vice president disagree on just about everrything, and they are fundamentally different contenders: Ryan, the multi-millionaire son of privilege whose "rise to political power and financial stability was boosted by family money and connections" (in the words of The Los Angeles Times); Biden, the scrappy working-class kid who made his own way to the top.
But Ryan has yet to agree to debate his challenger in the Wisconsin House race.