Paul Ryan – Out of Touch, Why the 1st District Needs a Change

The Washington Post is tracking the voting records of Congressional members including the number of missed votes and how often they vote with their party. Paul Ryan continues to vote against the interests off his District with 93% of his votes following the GOP party line.  This compares to the voting records of Representatives Petri at 89.6% and Sensenbrenner at 90.2%, who represent far “redder” districts than the 1st District.  Ryan’s voting record is also a sharp contrast when viewed in light of the fact that his district went for Obama 51% to 48% according to Swing State Project. If the 2,600 residents of his district who signed a petition asking for a public option are a sample of what’s wanted there, he’s even more out of touch.

Given the recent Washington Post/ABC poll as reported by Chris Cilliza of the Fix “Less than one in five voters (19 percent) expressed confidence in Republicans’ ability to make the right decisions for America’s future while a whopping 79 percent lacked that confidence”, it is curious why Ryan continues to vote his party rather than his constituents.

My conclusion after doing some research, is that his votes are based on satisfying his contributors, on his personal ambitions and his beliefs rather than on serving his District and the State of Wisconsin.  Let’s look into this a bit more.

So why does he continue to vote this way?
It appears that Mr. Ryan feels that his giant war chest gives him the freedom to vote his way rather than to represent his district. In his quest for national fame and higher office as a conservative Republican, he votes against his district’s interests. His war chest and name recognition makes it difficult for relatively unknown and less-funded opponents from within or outside his party to gain traction in the 1st District. According to Open Secrets he has an amazing $1.441 million in cash on hand, results that place him at the 21st highest ranking among congressional candidates (see Open Secrets rankings).

So where is Ryan collecting his seemingly impregnable war chest?
In the 2008 election cycle, Mr Ryan collected $875,065 or 52.9% of his total contributions from Political Action Committees and $655,264 or 47.1% from individuals according to Campaign Money.

Of these individual contributions,  77.8% came from within WI, although not necessarily in his District.

How about today?
Larry Everhart, his Campaign Treasurer, filed his most recent report on October 2, 2009 according to the Federal Elections Commission.  You can see a PDF of the 170 page filing here.

In the election cycle to date, he has reported net contributions of $829,770.81 according to the report.  Of these contributions, $343,396 (41.2%) were from corporate PACS and $489,337 (58.8%) from individuals, both those itemized and un-itemized.  I did not analyze the location of his donors, but in a Janesville Gazette article from July 15, 2009 following the prior period’s report, Paulette Garin, an unsuccessful 2008 Democratic opponent said that “Of the money contributed for the 2010 election cycle, 40.5 percent was itemized contributions from individuals, and only 12 percent came from within the 1st District” according to reporter Frank Schultz.

Open Secrets revealed that Paul Ryan’s major contributors (both PACs and Individuals) for this election cycle when categorized by industry were: Insurance, Health Professionals, Retired, Securities and Investments and Misc Finance.

Paul Ryan, WI 1st District Contributions
Paul Ryan, WI 1st District Contributions

If you look at his total contributions by combined sector both individual and PACs, Open Secrets reveals that his highest contributions have come from Finance Insurance and Real Estate, followed by Health Care.

Paul Ryan WI-1, Major Donations by Sector
Paul Ryan WI-1, Major Donations by Sector

According to Open Secrets, when categorized by total $ amount by individuals and PACs combined his major donors were:

  1. Northwestern Mutual (outside of his district, but in state) – $9,000
  2. Terry Kohler-run and Sheboygan-based Windway Capital – $9,000
  3. Select Medical Corporation, a Pennsylvania-based leading provider of specialty health care – $8,200
  4. National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors (representing 70,000 life and health insurance agents)
  5. Investment Company Institute, representing U.S. Investment Companies – $5,500

How about his legislative record?
According to Open Secrets, he ranks 272nd out of 441 as a sponsor of a bill, at 7 bills and 417th as a co-sponsor at 76th.  It looks like he’s been too busy raising money and hobnobbing with his party’s leadership to get much done.

Meanwhile provides a means for you to see his votes for this year and for prior periods.

Given his 93% following of the GOP Party line, it isn’t too surprising to see that he was on the losing side of the vote in voting against a number of significant pieces of legislation that benefit his district including the following:

  • H.R. 2749 Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 – 283 yes, 142 no
  • H.R. 1622 R&D on Natural Gas Vehicles – 393 yes, 35 no
  • H.R. 1728 Mortgage Reform and Predatory Lending Act – 300 yes, 114 no
  • H.R. 1 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (Stimulus) – 244 yes, 188 no
  • H.R. 2657 Defense Authorization Act 281 yes, 146 no

(This act is the one that finally brings the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill into law once it is signed by the President.  Paul Ryan voted against funding the military in an effort to assuage the right wing of his party’s hatred and fear of gays and lesbians.)

While I’m not a resident of the 1st District, I’d encourage informed voters to look behind his blow-dried good looks and articulate speaking style to the substance and implications of his votes when you decide who should represent your District.  From all indications it isn’t Paul Ryan.  I’d recommend that you retire him to K Street where he belongs.


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15 thoughts on “Paul Ryan – Out of Touch, Why the 1st District Needs a Change

  1. Great overall look at Ryan’s record, which is astounding. Why people vote for him and against their self interest is puzzling.

    But generally speaking, conservatives recognize the problems, but except them as the “way things are.” I just had a bitter debate with my conservative friend who defends the way things are, even if he forces taxpayers to pay for his health care (he doesn’t have any) and corporate welfare (like Mercury Marine). To him, that’s just the way it is. That’s freedom.

    Ryan’s name made the top ten list of potential presidential candidates in 2012.

    1. Hello John,
      Thanks for your kind words and for commenting on my post. It was interesting to track down information on Ryan.

      I agree with you about people and their voting records. I can only assume that it is in part that they are too busy and too uninterested in actually following the votes of those who represent them at city hall, in Madison or in Washington. I also believe that the “mainstream media” is doing an abysmal job of covering Congressional voting records, thus the need for media outlets like Blogging Blue to help synthesize and bring this reality to light.

      I suspect that your friend hasn’t had to face a debilitating disease or a costly accident that might change his opinion about health care reform.

  2. In tomorrows Kenosha News the Kenosha Democratic Party has taken out a full page ad to answer this question. Why do people vote against their own interests for Paul Ryan?
    We will let people know what Ryan has been up to.
    His funding sources from . In addition, we will talk about how the right wing is swelling the truth into down right lies in order to make their short sighted monetary gains.
    One has to wonder how someone like Ryan keeps his seat during such hard and uncertain economic times. It is very clear that the Bush years have devastated this country. It should be noted that Ryan voted 98% of the time with Bush. Somehow , this does not seem to phase people.
    The problem? Money
    The solution? Get the money out of politics…easier said than done. So we pack our PAC funds to help our own . More individuals gave money this last election cycle (who NEVER gave before)to a political candidate than in history. Why? They thought it would help.

    1. Hello,
      I hope that your ad generates some contributions and gets people thinking about who represents them and how they are voting.

      One of the problems that I see with defeating Ryan, is that the mainstream media is not covering his votes and is giving him a free ride even when he is voting against the interests of his constituents. I’d like to see the Janesville Gazette, the Kenosha News and all of the other print and broadcast media covering his District assign reporters to real news coverage and analysis. If an unpaid blogger can do it, certainly a political reporter should be able to report reality too.


  3. The campaign to defeat Paul Ryan should be a top priority of the DCCC. But it isn’t. They’re very complacent about the race, probably waiting for some idea “moderate” or Blue Dog to run some time in the future. Ryan is incredibly corrupt and incredibly ambitious. It’s shocking that a congressional district with so many high profile Democratic office holders has been unable to offer Ryan a real race. Ryan is the only Republican this year who has merited his very own ActBlue page from Blue America.

    1. I agree. I wonder why Mike Sheridan of WI 44th Districtr is considering a run for the Governor’s seat, but seems to be unwilling to take on Paul Ryan.

  4. Thank you, Howie, for calling attention to the Act Blue page.

    I just returned home from the “Showdown in Chicago” protest against the American Banker’s Association (according to the Act Blue page – Paul Ryan’s number one donor in 2008).

    I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by PBS and outlined Paul Ryan’s role as an “architect” of the TARP bail out of mostly unregulated and now un-accounted funds.

  5. As a constituent of Paul Ryan’s I know that he does not represent my interest with his vote! Quite clearly he uses his vote for greedy Wall Street investment bankers. His voting record demonstrates a trend toward hurting the working class, the under privileged and the poor! It’s long overdue for a change in leadership for the citizens of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District!

    1. Thanks for commenting. We need to see more of his constituents speaking up and voting against him. His money should not be a barrier to his defeat when an articulate and aggressive candidate who better represents his District steps forward.

  6. Great Article on the failure of Paul Ryan. I agree that he needs to be beaten for the betterment of our state! There are numerous problems though, one being that his district is so spread out and there is no actual TV market to go to. You have Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford television to try and buy ads in. Another is the perpetual talking up of what a great guy he is. Wineke perpetually called him the best the repubs have, which drove me batty. He is easily the worst elected repub official in WIsconsin.

    I think the next campaign should highlight his starring role in Michael Moores latest movie. Id also like to see him called on his unbelievably misleading campaign ads he used last time. He also has to be called out on how badly his votes have hurt the auto industry. He should not get more than 5% of the Janesville vote, im amazed that he keeps winning in Janesville.

    Finally, I dont have the time right now to track this, but I would bet you would find an interesting link between Paul Ryan and many, if not all, of the private equity firms that have bankrupted Simmons(which resides in his district).

  7. I repeatedly contacted Paul Ryan to ask him to represent me on health care reform. He only tried to scare me with “gov’t take over”, “rationing” and “denial of coverage” lies. A good portion of his campaign is funded by health care providers and he is their obedient lackey. 8 out of 9 of these health care providers are not even in WI. He does not care about or represent Wisconsiites! Paul Ryan is unhealthy for WI and all Americans! I will get behind and campaign for anyone who can defeat him with all my heart. He must be defeated as sure as anything evil must be defeated!

  8. Who is going to be his Democratic contendor in November 2010? I am from Illinois, but I really want to contribute to whomever his contender will be. Ryan is DANGEROUS. I am appalled by him, and all of his lunatic ravings and antics during this entire health care debate, and he must be stopped. I can be emailed at Please, if anyone here knows who Ryan’s democratic challenger for his seat will be in November, PLEASE send me that person’s name and/or website address. I want to contribute NOW to his/her campaign.

    My big question is, how did Ryan EVER get elected, and six times???? How Republican is this district??? He’s dangerous and insane and acts like a neo-Nazi, and he must be stopped in his tracks. He’s talked more than enough, and needs to be defeated this year. He’s a complete weasel-pig.

    1. Considering the stellar politicians Illinois produces (and you probably voted for), you would do well to mind your business and clean up your own house first.

      You also don’t present any rational arguments against Ryan, besides name-calling, including “nazi.” How original. (Note to Zach: I thought only the tea partiers did that?!)

      1. Well, it sounds like you voted for Paul Ryan. It’s been about six years since these posts, and look where he’s at. He will be WORSE than Boehner.

        No, I did not vote for Illinois’ current governor. I did vote for Blago, and despite his previous incarceration, and selling Obama’s senate seat, he was still a good governor for Illinois.

        Illinois has had its share of corrupt politicians, yes…and I have never condoned them. BUT, Paul Ryan IS a neo-Nazi. That is not name-calling..that is a FACT. He is a FASCIST, but you are probably too lazy to listen to him on the House Floor in years past. He voted to repeal Obamacare every time it was up. His “budget” is a sham (and so, I am glad he is out of the Ways and Means Committee). He is one dangerous wingnut. And what is so sad is that a FEW of the older rethuglicans call him “more sane” than the TeaBaggers.

        There are no thinking rethuglicans in either chamber any more. You have all been swayed by your TeaBilly, brainless wingnuts.

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