Ryan among many homegrown politicians from Janesville

Paul Ryan selected as Mitt Romney's running mate
Ryan among many homegrown politicians from Janesville

Vice presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan isn’t the only Janesville native who climbed his way up the political ladder to Capitol Hill.

A handful of people have left Janesville for state government or Washington, D.C., some even from Ryan’s high school.

Three years retired, former government teacher Sam Loizzo had his fair share of talented and promising students.

“You can tell those kids who really had that desire, that passion, and Paul’s really one of them,” Loizzo said.

Loizzo searched through photos on his laptop, many from his annual trips he took with students to D.C. Ryan’s office was a frequent stop on those trips.

When Ryan was around Janesville, he would often show up in a classroom to teach. Loizzo even has a certificate from Congress, showing Ryan recognized him on the House floor.

Although the two are on different sides of the political spectrum, Loizzo considers Ryan to be a good friend, and he said he both teases with him and respects Ryan.

“There have been some great products that Janesville Craig has produced, and the school district in general. There’s no doubt about it,” Loizzo noted.

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That proof is on Craig High School’s honor wall. One of the inaugural plaques recognizes Ryan for his accomplishments in politics. Along with him is former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and state Sen. Tim Cullen.

Ryan’s predecessor as 1st District representative also came from his hometown.

“The young man who started in a small town like Janesville, Wis., and winds up being the vice president of the United States of America, that’s the American dream,” U.S. Senate candidate Mark Neumann said at a rally Sunday.

Neumann is also from Janesville.

“I just think that’s part of the story that’s going to come out and part of the thing that’s going to help them win this race,” Neumann added.

Loizzo said the face time area politics give the families and students in the area keeps young people pursing politics. While some may think there’s something in Janesville’s water, Loizzo credited a good upbringing, good teachers and good opportunities.

“A lot of it comes from within. I think we can steer kids or give them the opportunities,” Loizzo said. “I think there’s something to be said there. It’s a great place to incubate.”