Whatever party they’re from, Senate District 46 candidates agree on one thing about Mitt Romney’s choice for running mate: He represents a clear choice between the Republican challenger and the sitting president.
“Now instead of this tit-for-tat nonsense going on, we’ve got real issues to talk about,” said , a GOP candidate for the House District 46B seat. “This pick is to pick a fight, and I’m very pleased with the election now.”
(DFL-District 46) certainly doesn’t have the same high opinion of Paul Ryan, but he too sees a clear split between the campaigns.
“I think he’s a pretty radical choice,” Latz said. “He’s a Tea Party conservative. His budget proposals would upend decades of bipartisan consensus on how to approach government.”
That’s where the agreement ends, though. To local Democrats, Romney’s selection represents a dangerous direction for national politics. Latz said Ryan’s economic ideas target Medicare, Medicaid, education and other elements of the social safety net.
“I think there’s a lot about that plan—the Ryan budget plan—that would do serious damage to our country,” Latz said.
Rep. Ryan Winkler, the Democratic incumbent in District 46A, said Ryan might "bring some energy and ideas to the Romney campaign." But Winkler's other thoughts were less glowing.
"Unfortunately for Republicans, Congressman Ryan's ideas are not popular with the public because they call for drastic reductions in important programs like Medicare," Winkler said. "Usually the selection of a running mate does not factor into voters' choice in a presidential race unless it becomes a negative factor. Congressman Ryan's selection may be a negative for Romney, but ultimately will have little real effect."
For the Republicans, Ryan is a reason to get excited about the Romney campaign—something not all GOP stalwarts were ready to do before. Arvidson liked what Romney had to say before he announced his vice presidential pick but still had doubts because of the former governor’s more-moderate record in Massachusetts. Ryan’s selection, though, has convinced Arvidson that Romney is serious about conservative principles.
, the Republican candidate for House District 46A, echoed those thoughts.
“He's focused on solving our major problems at the federal level and with some Democrat support has proposed specific solutions,” Swanson wrote in an e-mail interview. “I think Ryan makes the ticket stronger and places the spotlight on the huge federal debt and growing deficits.”
Arvidson said Romney’s pick has energized other Republicans—which, in turn, should help his own campaign.
However, Latz doesn’t see the choice being an issue at the state level between now and the election—although he said it could embolden Republicans after the election if the GOP retains control of both legislative chambers and if Romney wins.
He also thinks it poses risks for the presidential candidate.
“It certainly defines him more clearly, but it also means he’s on the hook for every detail in the Ryan budget,” he said.
Swanson doesn’t think Romney will win Minnesota, but he’s hopeful that Ryan will help him win Wisconsin and the election overall.
“Romney has a very good chance of winning the Presidential election, but he (will) have to somehow deal with the half truths, distortions, and lies by his opposition,” Swanson wrote. “Even our President has repeatedly distorted the truth and can be expected to do whatever it takes to win; after all he's a Chicago politician.”