That has yet to quell local speculation that Ryan might challenge Kohl in a state where the GOP recently captured the governorship, both chambers of the Legislature, a Senate seat and two House seats.
All those factors, Wisconsin pols said, could make it attractive for Ryan to run statewide.
“The fact that today Republicans are taking control of the House has still not dissuaded talks” of Ryan running, Wisconsin-based consultant Scott Becher said.
Ryan turns 40 later this month and is widely considered a hot commodity on the national circuit. But now in his seventh term, he serves as the brain trust of the GOP conference.
He is often mentioned as a future presidential candidate, and as Becher pointed out, “How do you become president? You become a Senator or a governor.”
But the budget wonk has repeatedly said he is not looking to run for higher office anytime soon, whether it’s for a Senate seat, the governor’s office or the White House. GOP voters don’t appear to accept that message: Ryan received 52 percent of Wisconsin Republicans’ support for the Senate nomination in a Public Policy Polling survey conducted last month.
Ryan’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
In Ohio, Republicans said they believe they have an opportunity to knock off first-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), but it’s unlikely they’ll persuade Rep. Jim Jordan to accept the challenge.
The three-term incumbent was elected to lead the Republican Study Committee for the next two years, a leadership position that will give him an opportunity to lead what he calls the “conservative conscience on Capitol Hill.” Already, Jordan reports being inundated with speech requests for the coming months.
“I’m focused on the Republican Study Committee and my work here,” Jordan told Roll Call. But what about a Senate bid? He’s “leaning against that,” Jordan said, noting that he’s also excited about his new chairmanship of an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.
In California, Rep. Darrell Issa has been listed among Republicans interested in challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) in 2012. But the six-term Member is now chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has assumed a much higher profile on Capitol Hill.
It is not a profile he is looking to change, spokesman Kurt Bardella said.
“Chairman Issa can do more to advance his agenda by staying here in the House and working at the Oversight and Government Reform Committee than he can by being one of 100 in the Senate,” Bardella said.
In 1998, Issa wanted to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) but lost the GOP primary despite spending nearly $10 million from his own pocket. Two years later he was elected to the House. He bankrolled the 2002 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis (D), winning him plaudits among California Republicans, but the conservative has otherwise demurred from statewide politics.
Dave Gilliard, Issa’s California-based political consultant, said it will be tough to find a formidable candidate to challenge Feinstein next year.