Since that first race, he's never had a serious contender. One could argue he's that good and his constituents love him. But there could be other reasons, as Ben Jones writes in the Janesville Gazette: "In addition to crafty campaigning, political observers say Ryan has also enjoyed the advantages of incumbency, including name recognition, mountains of cash and redistricting lines drawn by GOP allies."
Ryan will be on the ballot Nov. 6 as Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate and the incumbent in the race for the 1st Congressional District. As always, he has a huge fundraising advantage over his opponent, who this time is Democrat Rob Zerban. From 2000 to 2008, Ryan outraised his opponents by a combined 31-1. In 2010, Ryan's advantage was 325-1.
His fundraising prowess was clear on Oct. 6 when he raked in $2.8 million for his vice-presidential bid at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. Tickets for the dinner ranged from $250 to $100,000 per couple.
According to Bloomberg, Ryan, who became chair of the powerful House Budget Committee in 2011, is "one of the top political fundraisers in Congress, with backing from the employees of banks and insurance companies that would benefit from his actions on financial regulation and Medicare." According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Ryan currently has $5.4 million in his campaign account. That's about $2 million more than the next highest House member, reports Bloomberg.
Of the $3.2 million Ryan raised between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2011, $817,000 -- about 25% -- came from financial, insurance and pharmaceutical companies, the Center for Responsive Politics reports. Goldman Sachs is his second-biggest source of funds historically. Other big donors include Northwest Insurance, which is based in Milwaukee, and Abbott Labs, located just south of Ryan's district. But the bulk of his money comes from outside Wisconsin -- 65% during this period, according to Center data.
Wealthy donors to tea party causes, including the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, have also fattened Ryan's campaign chest.
"Mr. Ryan is one of a very few elected officials who have attended the Kochs' biannual conferences, where wealthy donors sit in on seminars on runaway government spending and the myths of climate change," The New York Times noted on Aug. 13.
Ryan's relationship with the Kochs has been long and extensive, said US News and World Report on Aug. 14: "Before entering Congress, Ryan worked with a conservative group that would eventually merge with a Koch brothers' group to become FreedomWorks, a leading sponsor of the tea party movement."
According to the Times, the Koch Industries PAC donated more than $100,000 to Ryan's campaign and his leadership PAC since 1998, including $70,500 to his campaign PAC. Entrenched politicians often set up leadership PACs to distribute money to other candidates.
Ryan has also benefited from ties to billionaire Paul Singer, whose hedge fund, Elliott Management, is worth $19 billion, according to Fortune. The Wall Street Journal reported that Singer aggressively promoted the choice of Ryan to Mitt Romney.
In 2012, only Goldman Sachs and KKR & Co. gave more than Elliott Management to the Republican National Committee. So far this year Elliott has given $644,650.
And according to Russ Choma of the Center for Responsive Politics, the "single, biggest source of dollars" for Ryan's leadership PAC is individuals from Elliott Management. Singer and Elliott executives gave Ryan's leadership PAC, known as the Prosperity PAC, $40,000 between 2008 and 2012.