Meet Paul Ryan’s other opponent on the November ballots

Zerban hoping to oust Ryan from Congress
Meet Paul Ryan’s other opponent on the November ballots
Rob Zerban

By now most everyone knows that Janesville native Paul Ryan will be facing off against President Obama and Vice President Biden in November.

But Ryan also has a second, lesser-known opponent he’ll be doing battle with this fall.

In addition to being on the presidential ticket, Ryan will also be on the ballot to be reelected as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives serving Wisconsin’s First Congressional District.

Ryan will be running for an eighth term in Congress to serve an area that covers parts of Rock County, along with the southeastern corner of the state.

Wisconsin election law allows candidates to run for two offices at once, as long as one of those offices is either president or vice president.


In fact, even if Paul Ryan wanted to run only for vice president, it’s too late for him to get off the ballot at this point.

Despite the fact that he won’t spend much time campaigning in the district.

But his opponent will.

His opponent on that congressional ballot will be Rob Zerban, a Democrat from Kenosha.

Zerban has been in the race for more than a year, but it took his opponent becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate to get Zerban some attention.

So how can the little-known Zerban hope to defeat not only a veteran congressman but a vice presidential candidate as well?

Oddly enough, Zerban says it starts with experience.


“Paul Ryan’s never seen a challenger like me,” Zerban declared. “I’m somebody who’s lived his version of the American Dream. I’m somebody who’s built two successful small businesses. Somebody with private experience, something Paul Ryan lacks.”

Since Ryan will be busy this fall campaigning to unseat the president, Democrats may feel this is their best chance to beat Ryan back home.

Of course, Republicans disagree.

“Oh, I think they have it 180 degrees wrong,” said Rock County GOP chairman Jay Mielke. “When all of a sudden the guy running for the first congressional district is the number two name in the top ticket across the whole nation, and that’s what they got to fight against, I think they’ve got a huge uphill battle there.”

Since Ryan was first elected in 1998, he’s consistently won about 65 percent of the vote.

That’s no small feat in a swing district that voted for George W. Bush and then Barack Obama.

“Paul Ryan has got a special ability to reach across the aisle to those who don’t necessarily agree with all his ideas,” added Mielke.

But that is a sentiment not shared by Zerban.

“People like my personal success story,” said Zerban. “They like the experience I’ve had, and I think people are ready for change.”

Zerban owned two catering companies before becoming Kenosha’s County Board Supervisor.

Ryan’s seat is by far the highest office he’s ever gone after.

Zerban said he went to college with federal Pell Grants and got reduced cost lunches at school.

He doesn’t want to see Congress cut those programs.

Should Ryan win both races in November, he would void his seat in the House of Representatives.

Zerban wouldn’t then automatically be declared the winner of the race; the governor would call for a special election next year.