Paul Ryan (Wis.) is the Republican nominee for vice president. But beginning this week, voters in Wisconsin's 1st district will also see new TV advertisements from his House campaign. Ryan's congressional campaign manager has confirmed that Ryan will spend $2 million on ads in the Milwaukee and Madison media markets.
Ryan's new ads, ostensibly an effort to help his front-running House bid, could also boost the GOP presidential ticket's efforts in Wisconsin. A Republican presidential nominee has not carried the state since 1984, but polling shows a competitive race there this cycle.
A Wisconsin law has allowed Ryan to remain a candidate for his seat in Congress, even as he runs for vice president (so the news that he is running for his House seat isn't on its own anything new). If Mitt Romney loses in November, but Ryan wins his congressional race, he can keep his seat. If Romney wins and the congressman leaves to join the new administration, a special election would be held to replace him in the House if he is reelected there.
Ryan, who was first elected in the 1st district in 1998 and has never really faced a very serious reelection challenge, will begin airing ads congressional campaign manager Kevin Seifert said will be the first in a series.
Seifert said the new ad "focuses on the critical choice before voters this November and the importance of electing leaders who are capable of advancing solutions that get America back on track. This is the first in a series of ads that will be rolled out between now and November 6th by Ryan for Congress." He confirmed that the Ryan will be spending $1.5 million in the Milwaukee market, then another $500,000 in the Madison market starting in late October.
Ryan's Democratic opponent in the 1st district is businessman Rob Zerban, who is believed to be a sizable underdog. Ryan is well-known in his district and has a lot more money in his campaign account. According to campaign finance reports filed in late July, he had more than 10 times as much money as Zerban. And a Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted for Ryan's campaign on Sunday and Monday showed the incumbent leading Zerban, 58 percent to 33 percent.
While Ryan remains popular in his district, his easy reelection wins have defied the partisan tilt there at the presidential level. President Obama narrowly won the district in 2008.
Nonetheless, it does not look like Ryan is in a whole lot of trouble back home. But his House campaign has money to spend ($5.4 million as of late July) and as Romney works to try to win Wisconsin, Ryan's new ad could boost the GOP ticket's outreach efforts in the swing state. After all, Milwaukee and Madison are two of the state's largest media markets.
Ryan's simultaneous campaigning is not unprecedented. It's happened before, as recently as 2008, when Joe Biden, then a senator from Delaware, appeared on the ballot in his home state as Obama's vice presidential nominee and as a candidate for Senate. He won reelection to the upper chamber, and would have been able to return there had the Democratic ticket lost the presidential election.
One key difference between Delaware and Wisconsin, though, is that the latter is a presidential swing state and the former is not.
Updated at 8:57 p.m.