(MADISON, Wis.) — As Paul Ryan love fests go, Wisconsin’s Republican Senate primary might put his national roll-out to shame.
Since well before Mitt Romney introduced the Wisconsin congressman as his running mate on Friday, candidates in Ryan’s home state have been jockeying for super-fan status.
On Tuesday, Wisconsin Republicans will decide a multi-way Senate primary, the winner of which will run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin in November. As in primaries across the country, Ryan’s budget plan is orthodoxy among Republicans.
The top three Republicans in this race all back Ryan’s budget and Medicare reforms. Emphatically, in fact.
Former congressman Mark Neumann has praised it. Former governor and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has promised, repeatedly, to pass it. And when Ryan introduced it in March, businessman Eric Hovde began airing a radio ad in its support.
The three candidates even attended a rally in Wisconsin on Saturday, as Ryan made his debut as the VP candidate, and all lavished praise on him.
In a tight race, where polls have shown Hovde and Thompson as the leaders, each has sought an edge by clamoring to back Wisconsin’s hometown budget hero.
None of this is very unusual, as GOP candidates elsewhere have backed Ryan’s Medicare overhaul. In competitive races in Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota, GOP candidates are on the record supporting Ryan’s 2011 and 2012 budgets. In Virginia, former Sen. George Allen embraced Ryan over the weekend.
In New Mexico and Montana, GOP candidates have opposed Ryan’s budgets, and have been put on the spot in 2012.
Former New Mexico congresswoman Heather Wilson, who never had to vote on a Ryan plan, voiced unspecified “concerns” with his health-care provisions, unwilling to say whether she opposed or supported his budgets outright, at a briefing with reporters in Washington, D.C., in July.
In Montana, the state GOP has run a TV ad touting Rep. Denny Rehberg’s opposition to Ryan’s budget.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Sophie Tatum, CNN
Robert Patten, EastIdahoNews.com