Ryan’s Plan B

I hadn’t fully realized until now that Rep. Paul Ryan is simultaneously running for vice-president and for an eight term in the House. An AP article says Ryan’s about to go up with re-election ads in his district, and suggests that since they were put together before Mitt Romney chose him as his running-mate, they may not even mention his White House ambitions, which may be a bit confusing to voters.

Wisconsin is one of the relatively small number of states that allow for a double-decker candidacy. Joe Biden was re-elected to the Senate in Delaware in 2008; so was Joe Lieberman in 2000, and LBJ in 1960. The only candidate I can think of who hedged on a presidential candidacy was Lloyd Bentsen in 1976, but he obviously didn’t make it past the early primaries.

What this means, assuming Ryan wins his House race but loses the Big One, is that he won’t have to get himself a Fox News gig or become president of the Ayn Rand Institute (or its new semi-affiliate, the Cato Institute) to keep himself in the limelight as the putative future champion of the conservative movement. Since there’s not much chance of the GOP losing control of the House in November, he’ll still chair the Budget Committee and have the chance to thrill beltway pundits with his wizardry while alternative tormenting and serving as a foil for Barack Obama.

I don’t know what Mitt Romney’s Plan B would be, though the odds of him getting another chance to run for president are about as good as Herman Cain’s. Guess he can build another house or two, and finally release his tax returns with a shout of: “Ha, Ha, Suckers!”

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.