House Speaker Paul Ryan has represented Wisconsin’s First Congressional District since he was sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives in 1999.
But for the first time since the Fall 1998 election, voters won’t see Ryan’s name on the ballot when they head to the polls in Tuesday’s primary.
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Ryan announced earlier this year he is not running for re-election.
Art Cyr, a professor of political science and economics at Carthage College, said the First District’s population is diverse.
It stretches from Janesville all the way to Lake Michigan, and as far North as portions of Waukesha and Milwaukee Counties.
“A lot of traditional residents on farms and with industrial, manufacturing backgrounds,” Cyr said of the district. “But there’s also a very substantial, and relatively new, residential population and professional population.”
He said that’s why he considers the district a toss-up.
Republicans Paul Ryan (January 1999 - present) and Mark Neumann (January 1995 - January 1999) were preceded in representing Wisconsin’s First District in Congress by Democrats Peter Barca (May 1993 - January 1995) and Les Aspin (January 1971 - January 1993).
In recent, presidential elections, voters in the First Congressional District broke for Donald Trump in November 2016 and Mitt Romney, with Ryan on the ticket as his running mate, in 2012.
But Democrat Barack Obama won the First District in 2008.
“It’s a very mixed district, and one that I think is open to appeals from both parties,” Cyr said.
On Tuesday, Democrats hoping to nominate a candidate that can turn Ryan’s longtime, red seat to blue will choose between Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers.
Republicans will see Paul Nehlen, Nick Polce, Jeremy Ryan, Kevin Steen, and Bryan Steil on the ballot.
Independent Ken Yorgan is also running.
Cyr thinks voters in the area will make up their minds based on issues, and not flashy campaign ads or strict party affiliations.
“The people in this district are serious about policy,” Cyr said. “I think what resonates with them is authenticity.”