Paul Ryan's Wife: 11 Facts About Janna Ryan

Janna Ryan, a D.C. lobbyist turned small-town mom.

ByABC News
August 13, 2012, 5:00 PM

August 13,2012 -- intro:Janna Ryan has been a congressional spouse for 14 years, but outside the Wisconsin district that has elected her husband, Paul Ryan, to the U.S. House of Representatives seven times, she is unknown.

While Ryan made waves across the country with his budget plans, his wife kept him "grounded" in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., said state Sen. Dave Craig, who worked in Ryan's district office for a decade before his election to the Wisconsin Senate.

"Janna has been the definition of balance for Paul," Craig said. "She has always been Paul's rock to make sure he's grounded."

But over the next 84 days, as the pair heads off to swing states across the United States as the prospective second couple, Janna Ryan's low profile is becoming high profile.

From her small-town roots to her K Street resume, here's 11 things you probably don't know about Janna Ryan.

quicklist:1title: More people attended Ryan's first rally as Romney's VP pick than live in her hometowntext: Janna Ryan is a small-town girl in every sense of the word. She grew up in the tiny town of Madill, Okla., where the population is 3,781.

If every single resident of her hometown had attended her husband's first campaign rally as a vice presidential candidate Sunday, the Madill crowd would have accounted for hardly a third of the crowd.

quicklist: 11title: She was a K St. lobbyist before marrying Paul Ryantext: Janna Ryan, then Janna Little, left her small-town roots for the nation's capital to earn her law degree from George Washington University. After graduation, she worked as a tax attorney and lobbyist for PriceWaterhouseCooper and then for Williams & Jenson.

During her three years as a lobbyist, Ryan fought primarily for health-related clients, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance company and the American Physical Therapy Association.

"She is a very bright individual," Craig said. "As a former tax attorney, she is a really good sounding board for a member of Congress."

She left her K Street life behind after she married Paul Ryan in 2000, when the couple moved to her husband's hometown of Janesville, Wis.

quicklist:2title: She's a stay-at-home momtext: Unlike many congressional couples, the Ryans never moved up to Washington, D.C., after Ryan was elected to Congress, deciding instead to stay in Janesville.

"They wanted to make sure their kids had the experience Janna and Paul did," Craig said, "that they have an upbringing with a backyard, be able to kick a ball around, throw a ball around in the backyard."

She is how a stay at home mom raising three kids: 10-year-old Elizabeth "Liza" Anne; 8-year-old Charles "Charlie" Wilson and 7-year-old Samuel "Sam" Lowery.

Craig, Ryan's former congressional staff member, said it was not uncharacteristic of Janna to bring the kids by Ryan's congressional office in Wisconsin's first district, even if Ryan wasn't there.

"She is certainly a extremely supportive political spouse," Craig said. "She knows the first district and the first district knows her very well."

quicklist: 3title: She is older than her husbandtext: Compared to the other wives in the presidential race, Janna Ryan is a young'un. But compared to her husband, she is the old one.

Janna Ryan is a year older than her husband, whom she married at the age of 31.

quicklist: 4title: She already has a fan sitetext: Minutes after news leaked that Mitt Romney was planning to announce Ryan as his running mate, a college sophomore scooped up the website url for Janna Ryan's name. Within hours was live with biographical information about the prospective second lady.

"She brings an impressive resume to the table," said the site's founder, Matt McKnight, a sophomore at Ohio University. "She had a successful professional career and strong family values."

McKnight, who said he's a big Romney-Ryan supporter, said he initially bought the domain simply because it was available.

"I wanted to make sure it didn't get into the hands of an opponent," McKnight said, adding that he'd be happy to turn the site over to the Romney-Ryan campaign in exchange for a ticket to the inauguration.

quicklist: 5title: She's an outdoorsy typetext: Growing up in Oklahoma, Ryan picked up a taste for the outdoors, one that she shares with her husband, an avid bowhunter and catfisher who has been known to go noodling while visiting his wife's family in Oklahoma.

Ryan accompanies her husband on his bowhuning trips and tags along on some of his fishing adventures, said Craig. Ryan chose one of their favorite fishing spots, Big St. Germain Lake in Wisconsin, to pop the question.

In the couple's wedding announcement Paul Ryan commented that she "shared some of his love of the great outdoors."

quicklist:6title: Her mother was a three-time cancer survivortext:Janna Ryan's mother, Prudence Mae Little, was first diagnosed with melanoma when Janna was 4 years old. After winning her first battle with melanoma, and then beating breast cancer and ovarian cancer, Little died of advanced melanoma in 2010.

quicklist: 7title: She went to the same college as Hillary Clinton text: Wellesley College, a seven-sisters school outside Boston, can claim Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright, ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer and correspondent Cokie Roberts among its famous alumni.

If Mitt Romney wins the White House, another name will be added to that impressive list: Janna Ryan, who would take Jill Biden's place as the second lady of the United States. Ryan studied Spanish at Wellesley, which U.S. News ranked as the nation's sixth best liberal arts college in 2012.

quicklist:8title: She worked for a Democratic congressmantext: She may have married a Republican, but Janna Ryan got her start in Washington working for a Democrat.

After graduating from law school, Ryan went to work as a congressional aide for Oklahoma Rep. Bill Brewster.Her cousin, Rep. Dan Boren, is also a Democrat from Oklahoma.

qucklist: 9title: She is a millionairetext: When Janna Ryan's mother died in 2010, she inherited a trust fund worth between $1 million and $5 million, according to Rep. Paul Ryan's financial disclosure forms.

The trust is the Ryan's largest asset and bumps the Ryans' net worth to between $2 million and $7.7 million, the Los Angeles Times reported.

quicklist: 10title: Politics is in her blood text: Janna Ryan's family has strong ties to Oklahoma politics. Her mother was appointed by the governor as a founding member of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission and the Oklahoma Council of Campaign Compliance and Ethical Standards, according to her obituary.

Her grandfather, Reuel W. Little, helped found a third party – the American Party - in Oklahoma during the 1968 presidential race so to help former Alabama Gov. George Wallace get on the state's presidential ballot, according to The Oklahoman.

Reuel Little ran for governor in 1970 but received only 4 percent of the vote. Four years later after his failed bid, Little's son-in-law David Boren waged a successful bid for the governor's mansion.