Paul Ryan may have been on the losing ticket with running mate Mitt Romney, but he was a winner in Wisconsin where he once again was elected to serve as U.S. congressman.
Ryan won his eighth consecutive term as the representative for Wisconsin's 1st District, a position which helped him rise to national prominence as the chairman of the House Budget Committee during his last term.
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Now, when he returns to Congress in 2013, many political watchers will be wondering where Ryan goes from here. Will his run as a vice presidential candidate boost his stature in the House, or will he follow the path of recent Veep candidates whose stature within their parties was significantly altered after their losses, including Sarah Palin, John Edwards, and the soon-to-be-retired Joe Lieberman?
All three V.P. candidates were once at the top of their parties, but after suffering losses at the national level, fell from their parties' pedestals rather quickly.
In the 2000 election, Lieberman lost alongside Al Gore on the presidential ticket against George Bush and Dick Cheney in the famous recount election. In 2006, he was forced to leave his own party after a Democratic challenger won the Senate primary. Lieberman still won his seat as an Independent and then threw his support behind 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain. Lieberman announced plans in 2011 to retire from national politics at the end of this term.
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John Edwards and Sarah Palin both lost on their bids for vice president, Edwards alongside John Kerry in 2004 and Palin alongside John McCain in 2008, and watched as their political careers were swallowed by tabloid fascination with their personal lives.
Shortly after Edwards' bid for the presidency in 2008, he was indicted on campaign finance crime charges and was the subject of a National Enquirer story about his affair with a campaign worker that resulted in Edwards having a secret love child. The scandal, which erupted while Edwards was running for president, ended his political career despite the fact that he was eventually found not guilty in a headline grabbing trial.
Palin rose to fame as McCain's running mate in 2008, but shortly after their loss she resigned from her post as Alaska governor and became a political consultant to Fox News. She was featured in a reality show on TLC, and her daughter was a featured performer on Dancing With the Stars. But Palin decided against running for president this year and it's not clear that she is a viable candidate in the future.
Stu Rothenberg, a political commentator who writes the Rothenberg Report online each week, said he doubts Ryan will fare the same way his most recent predecessors have.
"That is a conclusion based on a ridiculously small sample," he said.
"I suppose he'll get more media attention that will make him one of the party's spokesman over the next couple of years," Rothenberg said. "Without the White House, there's no obvious party spokesman other than Boehner, so who's going to be on the Sunday morning shows and doing interviews? I would think Ryan will definitely be in the mix."
Ryan, who is heading back to Wisconsin today, released a statement saying he looked forward to going back to Congress next year.
"I am immensely proud of the campaign we ran, and I remain grateful to Gov. Romney for the honor of being his running mate," he said. "I look forward to spending some time with my family in the coming days and then continuing my responsibilities as chairman of the House Budget Committee and representative of Wisconsin's First Congressional District."
Ryan drew praise as the HBC chair after introducing his budget proposal, which became a controversial part of the Romney campaign when Ryan was announced as his running mate in August.