Of all the people whose lives became more interesting since last Saturday, when we all embarked upon the zombie-eyed granny-starving portion of the presidential campaign, nobody, not even Willard Romney, had his life made more interesting than Rob Zerban, the classically trained chef — “Paul Ryan and the House Republicans aren’t just cooking the books. They’re burning the hell out of them,” he cracked when I spoke with him by phone this afternoon — who is running against Paul Ryan in the First Congressional District of Wisconsin. Ryan already has made it clear that he has every intention of running for vice-president, and for re-election to the House, at the same time, so, suddenly, Zerban is in a prime position, as Aristotle put it in his Politics, to fk up Ryan’s shit in a big way back home. There they are, Willard and the zombie-eyed granny-starver, basking in the glow of giant rallies somewhere across America and, suddenly, the hometown congressional numbers start going south. Does the vice-presidential candidate have to wing his way home to grip the flipper at the Friday-night fish fry at the Bull and Bear in Kenosha? Or is he just going to spend a small fortune on TV ad time so he can buy himself another term as the bootstrappy youngster from Main Street USA? It’s an intriguing prospect….
“I don’t think I’m going to make too much of an issue out of it,” Zerban said. “I’m going to talk about the Ryan budget, and all the horrible provisions in it. I think people are going to see him for what he is. If he wants to run for both offices, he’s certainly entitled to do that under current law. I think the Obama-Biden team are going to highlight the Ryan budget and as soon as people in the district see what it would mean to their lives, they’ll see it as having the wrong priorities for the state of Wisconsin.
“What I was hearing on the ground even before this, from people in the First Congressional District, even before this weekend, was that people didn’t understand why he came up with this proposal. They’re not ideas that are coming from the First Congressional District. I think he finally showed his true stripes and people are thinking he’s too extreme for the district.”
When Ryan had that burst of magical thinking that he calls a “budget” a while back, Zerban thought that the “budget” was a clear indication that Ryan’s eyes had risen from the near horizons of Janesville. “I felt pretty early on, when I saw this budget, that he was trying to gun for a national profile,” Zerban said. “I looked at this budget and, when everybody was screaming about how extreme it was, I was thinking, ‘He’s trying to raise his profile.’ There’s no other reason for him to be doing this. I felt he really wasn’t concerned about what people in the First Congressional District thought about him any more.”