Paul Ryan hopes to avert primary surprise after Trump tweak

From The Associated Press:

JANESVILLE, Wis. (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan had nearly $10 million in the bank and a primary opponent no one had heard of. Then Donald Trump got involved.

An expected walkover for the country’s highest-ranking Republican officeholder became one to watch Tuesday, with Ryan seeking to avoid the most shocking of upsets against a political unknown hoping for a Trump bump.

Paul Nehlen’s star rose after Trump praised him last week on Twitter, then later pointedly withheld his endorsement of Ryan. Trump relented just three days later after coming under criticism from GOP leaders, but the burst of publicity was priceless for Nehlen, an executive at a water filtration company.

A sampling of voters outside a polling place in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville found a majority backing Ryan.

Bob and Maureen Becker said they’re familiar with Ryan from the 40 years he’s spent in Janesville, and that he went to high school with their daughters.

“To me it was a no-brainer,” Bob Becker told the Janesville Gazette.

But Nehlen voters could be found, too. They included Joanne Simenson, who called Ryan “a big spender, just like the rest of them.”

“I know (Ryan’s) going to win, but it sends a message,” Simenson said.

No House speaker in modern political history has lost a primary, and Ryan is hugely popular in the southeastern Wisconsin district he has represented for nearly two decades. He crushed a protest candidate in the GOP primary two years ago, winning 94 percent of the vote. The only other time he had a primary challenger …

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