Mitt Romney's No. 2 has a safety net in case the GOP presidential ticket doesn't win the White House.
Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan also is on the ballot seeking another term as a Wisconsin congressman.
Filming for Ryan's
re-election commercials finished a few days before Romney introduced the
Wisconsin congressman as his running mate, and the ads will air this
fall as planned.
Wisconsin law allows Ryan
to seek both offices at once. He usually wins by comfortable margins,
but his district tilts Democratic in presidential races and, this year,
Ryan won't have the luxury of much time back home.
"I'm already on the ballot. You can't even go off the ballot," he told CBS's "60 Minutes."
Congressional District stretches from the shores of Lake Michigan
through industrial zones, bedroom communities and farm fields until it
reaches Ryan's hometown of Janesville to the west. Republicans have
filled the seat since 1995, with Ryan serving the area for all but four
of those years. But Democrats - and even a Progressive Party member -
have held it over the years, including former Clinton administration
Defense Secretary Les Aspin.
Democrats would need to
convert more than two dozen seats to retake the majority in Congress. So
far there's little indication they will put extra effort into toppling
Ryan, the House Budget chairman. Throughout his career, Ryan has far
outperformed the top of his party's ticket, including in 2008 when
President Barack Obama narrowly won a district that Ryan racked up 64
percent of the vote.
Ryan's opponent back home
is Rob Zerban, a former Kenosha County board member and catering company
owner. At last report, Ryan's $5.4 million campaign stockpile was 10
times bigger than what Zerban had at his disposal.
But Zerban argues that he can benefit from the heightened scrutiny Ryan will be under as a national candidate.
"He's now on a national
stage. This budget is going to receive such scrutiny that people as they
find out more and more about it, they're going to reject it
wholeheartedly," Zerban said.
Retired purchasing manager
Jon Flora, 68, of Janesville, said it doesn't bother him if Ryan puts
less energy into running for Congress. His wife, Vicki, a retired
banker, chimed in that she doubts it will matter anyway.
"He's untouchable," she said. "You've got to like him even if you don't want to."
Airline pilot John Catlin,
48, lamented that Ryan running for vice president would rob the district
of a powerful voice in Congress. He said a double run could leave
"A lot of people will be wondering which office he's really trying to get," Catlin said. "Do you vote for him twice?"
Four years ago, Vice
President Joe Biden found himself in the same spot. He was Obama's vice
presidential selection, as well as the Democratic nominee for Senate in
Biden's Republican opponent that year, made a stink about the incumbent
"blowing off the people of Delaware." He skipped every forum for
candidates for statewide office and sent surrogates to read prepared
It didn't hurt him a bit:
Biden won with almost 65 percent of the vote - his largest win margin in
seven races. He never served a day of the term, resigning to assume the
In 2000, Democratic Sen.
Joe Lieberman easily won a new Senate term while he was the running mate
of unsuccessful presidential nominee Al Gore.
Back in Wisconsin, Ryan
campaign manager Kevin Seifert said his team knew Romney could tap the
congressman when they developed their game plan. Ryan spent his summer
as he normally does, hitting local parades and holding town halls.
"Voters know Paul very well. That's not going to change in the fall because he hasn't been here," Seifert said.
Bumper stickers and stacks
of signature green "Ryan for Congress" are ready for distribution. At
his campaign headquarters last week, a handful of workers carried on
last week with typical campaign tasks. During a brief Wisconsin
homecoming, Ryan met privately with a few dozen family and staff members
to thank them for their efforts and to urge them on.
In the days before Romney
made his choice public, Ryan crammed in ad shoots at various spots
around town featuring supporters and testing out lines he would use in
his debut remarks as a vice presidential candidate.
Supporter Cheryl Gray, a
former furniture store owner who appears in some scenes, grew suspicious
when a Sunday shoot was suddenly canceled. That was when Ryan secretly
traveled east to meet with Romney and his vetting team. The filming
resumed Monday and Tuesday and when Gray asked Ryan if he'd be joining
Romney on a swing state bus tour, she said he played coy.
"He was kind of taken aback," Gray said. "He really did not let on."