At the peak of his national prominence, Congressman Paul Ryan’s support in Wisconsin has been tanking.

In 2012, the Janesville Republican lost his home precinct, his hometown, his home county as a candidate for vice president. And he was re-elected to the U.S. House with the lowest margin of his career.

Why? Wisconsinites are getting to know where Ryan stands on the issues. And they are unimpressed.

Ryan got by for years on the basis of family ties and nice-guy image.

But voters don’t think it’s very nice to propose the mangling and dismemberment of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And they don’t think it’s very wise to align with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Ryan has gone to extremes.

And that makes Rob Zerban, the Democrat who in 2012 ran the best race ever against the incumbent, think he might be able to beat Ryan in 2014.

“It’s just totally unbelievable that the incumbent in this district continues to vote to risk the full faith and credit of the United States,” says Zerban. “He continues to vote in favor of crashing the global economy. His commitment to partisanship and ideology is so extreme that he actually voted for the United States to default on our obligations."

Zerban, a successful businessman and local elected official from Kenosha County, may be on to something.

The challenger takes note of a recent survey by Public Policy Polling, which determined that only 48 percent of voters would back Ryan’s re-election run after being informed that he supported a government shutdown.

That’s grounds for hope for Zerban, who announced last week that he would make a second race against Ryan.

Recent events have provided the challenger with an even greater opening than he had in 2012. And Zerban is seizing it with a message that addresses popular outrage over the shutdown -– and over Ryan's decision to join 143 other House Republicans in seeking to maintain it even after a compromise was reached to reopen the government.

“(We) need new leadership in the House,” says the Democrat. “We need leaders that work to avoid catastrophe -– not invite it.”

John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. jnichols@madison.com

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(13) comments

alifetothemax

As someone who did campaign work in Rock County, I can say that if the 2012 Zerban campaign "ran the best race ever against the incumbent" they have nowhere to go but up. Rob is a great guy but he should make sure to hire quality field staff this time around.

DaTruth
DaTruth

Love it when Nichols puts on his progressive cheerleader's skirt to rouse up opposition against one of the few people (Ryan), who understands the depths and consequences of our wanton spending.

When the spending game is over, John; the stadium owned by China, and those you have led in cheer are taken off the field to a life of economic slavery, will they blame Ryan for being right or you for being nothing more than a mouthpiece for their new masters?

aspyder

"We need leaders who avoid catastrophe, not invite it"

So then what are the long range plans for deficit reduction? When do we address Medicare and Social Security funding/retirement age/benefits as these programs are going broke? It's easy for Democrats to say 'keep your hands off our SS and Medicare programs,' but what do they propose to make the programs solvent other than stick their head in the sand and say there is no problem? Any suggestion of doing anything is 'changing the program as we know it.' And of course they are correct because ANY change at all would in fact be 'changing the program as we know it.' But that being used as an argument shows how easily the masses are manipulated or fooled.
The Sequester cut 3% from record government spending. We are told the Sequester is unsustainable but nothing is said of the record government spending and debt. We are told government spending is the key to jobs and financial recovery and yet our national debt has increased $12 trillion in 12 years, $7 trillion alone since Obama has taken office so where are the jobs, ... where is the recovery?

So who exactly is inviting a catastrophe?

GodHeals

I like Ryan because he, like Jesus according to the Tea Party backers of Ryan, hates everybody who is not within 2 paint chips of his skin tone and below 7 times about the poverty rate. He hates Social Security and Medicare. So do I. I hate the majority of Americans. They are just Leaches. Ayn Rand told me so.

remy17

we need new leadership in the White House. not leadership that invites and creates crises because "no crisis should be wasted"

Gayle

After reading numerous posts by these two, I've come to the conclusion that Tomtom
and Dode are from another planet.

Dode
Dode

We are from Planet Earth. Welcome!

kcwisc

My my.. I hope Zerban will win the next time around. Ryan is a disgrace to W. Where on earth did he get his values? Almost forgot; Koch brother dollars...

tomtom33
tomtom33

Why? Because he concentrated on his national run. He was so popular in his district that he didn't have to spend much time and money defending his seat.

By the way Ryan did not support a government shut down any more than Obama and Reid did.

Nav

tomtom33, your propaganda machine never stops!

You fail to mention that Re. Ryan's district was HEAVILY Gerrymandered the last time around and that is the ONLY reason he won the election.The people who know him the best (his native city of Janesville and Rock County) totally abandoned him because they know he is such a FAKE and wants to end social security and Medicare as we know it.
There is a very real possibility that he will LOSE next year even in his a heavily gerrymandered district!

President Obama and Harry Reid do not have the power to "vote" for a shut down. Rep.Paul Ryan did, and that will come back to haunt him. My guess is he is having second thoughts now!

tomtom33
tomtom33

Please cite the evidence of heavy gerrymandering. I don't believe it. A very real possibility that he will lose next year? Is that like the sure thing that Walker was going to lose the recall?

Obama and Reid could have done something other than not negotiate. Their intransigence caused the shutdown.

Gayle may be onto something.

Dode
Dode

I don't recall Zerbo saying this about Present 0bama or any of his democrat colleagues in the last election. They are the ones spending like drunken sailors, wrecking our credit rating and risking the future of the children. But then Zerbo is lying when he says Ryan supported a government shutdown, when it was his party that wanted it for partisan purposes. SHAME

Norby

If you have no defense, just change the topic. But you fool no one but yourself.

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