Pope’s visit, Janesville work ethic part of Ryan’s decision to run for speaker

Pope’s visit, Janesville work ethic part of Ryan’s decision to run for speaker

Janesville Congressman Paul Ryan has returned home for the weekend, before likely becoming the next Speaker of the House.

Ryan came through Dane County Regional Airport Friday afternoon and declined questions before heading back to his hometown.

Those in Ryan’s hometown have been watching his political career moves with interest, some surprised that he could be chosen for two high-profile political jobs in just a few years.

“My God, what are the chances of having someone being sought after for two incredible positions in our lifetime?” asked the owner of the Italian House Edmund Halabi. 

Ryan spent last week at home in Janesville, in part at his home parish of St. John Vianney, pondering his political future.

“I think he approached this with a very sincere heart,” said parish priest Monsignor Donn Heiar. 

Heiar said one of the factors that Speaker John Boehner cited as why he stepped down from the speakership–a visit from Pope Francis–also made an impression on Ryan.

“In the midst of all that goes on in our world and our political world, this Holy Father, a powerful position in the world came in with noble simplicity and gentleness and compassion and I think that spoke to Paul,” Heiar said.

Longtime Janesville radio host Stan Milam of The Big 1380 said after interviewing Ryan for many years, he didn’t expect that the speaker’s chair would be something he’d ever decide to take. 

“Why would he want to be a referee to a bunch of recalcitrant members who sit around and argue about where their offices are?” Milam said. 

Milam said he believes Ryan’s Janesville work ethic led him to take the job. 

“I know him to be someone who wants to get things done and I think that’s the key to this,” Milam said. “He wouldn’t do it if it was going to be continually fighting all the time.”

Ryan will remain in Janesville through the weekend, in a community who seems excited for his next step.

“If and when he comes through our drive-thru to pick up his food, my God I’m gonna be elated for the speaker of the House going through my drive-thru taking food home to his family,” Halabi said.

Ryan will face a speaker vote in the House Republican Conference on Wednesday and in the full House on Thursday.