Is Paul Ryan the leader of a party proud to rally around his banner and his budget plan? Or someone that the party would prefer not to talk about?
If you ask Republican Senate candidates — or at least if you check their websites — it seems that it’s the latter: No one is denouncing Ryan, of course, but on the whole, he’s just not there. Perhaps Ryan doesn’t poll well. Perhaps it’s just that no one wants to be associated with anything in Congress, even a conservative hero.
Here are the details. I looked at the websites of the Republican candidates most likely to be members of the 113th Senate when it convenes in January 2013. Those include candidates in open seats in Republican-leaning or swing states, and challengers in states where the incumbent Democrat is generally perceived to be in trouble. In states which have yet to hold their primaries, I took the leading candidate and, if the polling indicates a close race, one or perhaps two others. Overall, that gave me 16 candidates in 11 states.
And out of those 16, how many mentioned Paul Ryan and his plan? I count two. Only two. Richard Mourdock, the upset winner in Indiana who defeated incumbent Senator Richard Lugar in their recent primary, says he “supports the ‘Ryan Plan’ as a good first step to preserving” Social Security and Medicare (yes, I know that Ryan doesn’t touch Social Security). And Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, one of three candidates from Ryan’s home state that I checked, is quite eager to tout his support. Ryan gets numerous mentions, and passing Ryan’s budget is a bullet point on Thompson’s “deficit reduction” page.
But other than that? Nothing. Republicans are eager to tout their support for a Balance Budget Amendment, and opposition to earmarks, but they have no interest in signing on to what Republicans in the House are up to, including those candidates who are currently members of the House and voted for the Ryan budget.
That also includes eight of the nine senators in my group who are currently seeking nominations. Even those who are primarily interested in convincing Republican primary apparently don’t find the Ryan name to be their kind of magic.
Now, some caveats. I looked in the “issues” areas of their websites; it’s possible support for Ryan appears elsewhere. Moreover, while I clicked through on anything about budgets, spending, or health care, it’s certainly possible that it was elsewhere. And I can’t say at all whether anything else in the campaign, stump speeches or ads or anything, mentions Ryan.
All I can say is that from what I can see, the people who care most about what voters think — the candidates soon to face voters — certainly don’t appear to be very excited to tout Ryan.