MILWAUKEE – Even though he's up for re-election in November, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) says the most important election in Wisconsin is Governor Scott Walker's recall race.
"This is the second most important election in the country next to the presidential election,” Ryan said.
Ryan said the recall election trumps everything but the presidential race -- because the recall's impact extends beyond the Badger state's borders. "Most folks in Washington D.C. look at this election as a national trend setting election,” he said.
Ryan was in Milwaukee Monday, April 9th talking about his budget plan to business leaders, but the conversation soon turned to the recall. "Basically, courage is on the ballot,” Ryan said.
Ryan's Democratic opponent in the First Congressional District, Rob Zerban, agrees the recall is important -- to the point that it's sapping resources from other races.
“In Wisconsin, you talk to donors and they say, 'look, I’m really supporting the recall effort right now,'” Zerban said. “Once the recall is done there will be more of a focus on our elections this November."
Experts say outside groups -- including political action committees and unions -- could spend $100 million in Wisconsin trying to win the Walker race.
"It's definitely a referendum on Walker's misplaced agenda and misplaced priorities,” Zerban said.
Ryan says the outcome of that referendum has the potential to cast a long shadow over American politics for years to come.
"If Scott Walker or these state senators get recalled in June,” Ryan said, “what governor or state Legislature in the future is going to take on these big structural challenges? What politician is going to take on these entrenched special interest groups and deal with these problems in the states if this is what happens to you? That's why the stakes are so high."