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A Profile of Republican House Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin


Paul Ryan Campaigns In Wisconsin
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Conservative Credentials:

Republican Congressman Paul Davis Ryan has represented Wisconsin's first House district since 1999, and in his sixth term he began to emerge as the new face of the Republican Party. Despite the heavily Democratic demographic of his home district, Ryan ran as a conservative in 1998 and won, beating the Democratic favorite by 15 percentage points. Before running for Congress, Ryan worked for several conservatives, including Sen. Sam Brownback and former housing secretary Jack Kemp. In 2009, Ryan offered conservative alternatives to both the 2010 Democratic Budget and Obama's health care reform plan.

Early Life:

Paul Ryan was born Jan. 29, 1970 in Janesville, Rock County, Wisc., the youngest of Paul Sr. and Betty Ryan's four children. He was raised Catholic. Sharing the same first name as his father, Ryan's childhood nickname was "P.D." Ryan attended Joseph A. Craig High School, and between his sophomore and junior year, his father died (Ryan was just 16). His father's death provided Ryan with Social Security benefits until his 18th birthday, which he used to pay for his education at Miami University of Ohio. Ryan, a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, graduated in 1992 with a degree in economics and political science.

Formative Years:

After graduating from college, Ryan worked as a marketing consultant for his family's Janesville-based business, Ryan Inc., a construction firm founded by his great-grandfather in 1884. Ryan also headed up his own consulting firm, and worked as an aide to former Sen. Robert Kasten Jr. until 1993. This whetted his appetite for politics, and in 1995, Ryan became Sen. Sam Brownback's legislative director, a position he held until 1997. Ryan also worked as a speechwriter for former drug "czar" William Bennett and helped former US housing secretary Jack Kemp in his bid for vice president.

Congressional Races:

When Republican House Rep. Mike Neumann announced he was running for Senate, Ryan decided to run for Wisconsin's first House District, which Neumann was vacating. Although the district is predominantly Democratic, Ryan, a conservative Republican, was also a home-grown fifth-generation resident of Janesville. Ryan first faced 35-year-old beer distributor Brian Morello in the Republican primary and after beating him went on to a 15-point victory over Democrat Lydia Spottswood in the general election. For the next four races, Ryan would defeat Democrat Jeffrey C. Thomas. In 2008, he defeated Democrat Marge Krupp.

Work as Congressman:

One of the first things Ryan did as a Congressman was to convert an old truck into an office so he could hold office hours in the far reaches of his district. As a ranking Member of the Committee on the Budget, Ryan introduced HR 6110, "A Roadmap for America's Future" a comprehensive proposal that tackles the interrelated crises in health care, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the tax code and the national deficit. In 2009, he joined other House leaders in introducing an alternative to President Barack Obama's budget proposal for 2010.


Spending a large amount of his time serving his constituents in Washington, Ryan met tax attorney Janna Little, who lived in Arlington, Va. An Oklahoma native, Little graduated from Wellesley College and George Washington University Law School. In 2000, Ryan asked Little to marry him at Big St. Germain Lake in northern Wisconsin, one of his favorite fishing spots. The couple was married in Oklahoma City in December 2000. They have one daughter, Elizabeth and two sons, Charles and Samuel, in Janesville.

Ryan on Five Major Issues:

  1. Abortion: Has a 100 percent voting record with the National Right to Life Committee. Voted against allowing embryonic stem cell research. Voted against the transportation of minors across state lines for abortions. Voted against partial birth abortions except to save a mother's life.
  2. Immigration: Voted in favor of building a fence along the Mexican border. Voted in favor of extending Immigrant Residency rules. Voted in favor of comprehensive immigration reform without amnesty.
  3. Civil Rights: Voted in favor of prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. Voted to protect the pledge of allegiance. Has expressed support for an amendment to ban flag desecration.
  4. Families: Voted to ban gay adoptions in Washington. Voted to constitutionally define marriage as between one man and one woman. Voted to reduce the Marriage Tax by $399 billion over 10 years. Voted to establish a nationwide AMBER alert system for missing children.
  5. Gun Control: Has an "A" rating by the National Rifle Association. In 1999, he voted to decrease gun waiting periods from three days to one. Voted to prevent gun makers, gun manufacturers and gun sellers from being sued for gun misuse.

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