Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s primary challenger this time around is unusual, even for a long-shot candidate. His last name is also Ryan — something he hopes will help him on election day, and he’s haunted the Wisconsin state legislature as he rides around on his Segway during singing protests.
Meet “Segway” Jeremy Ryan, an eccentric activist renowned in Wisconsin for mainly two things: citations for public disruptions and moving around virtually only on a Segway. Ryan, 25, filed to run in the Republican primary against Rep. Ryan.
Segway Ryan has been cited 30 times for causing public disruptions at protests at the Wisconsin capitol (his YouTube page features mostly clips of protestors confronting police at the Capitol). Specifically, Segway Ryan is mostly known around Wisconsin for repeatedly challenging the Wisconsin Department of Administration’s rules prohibiting signs in the capitol rotunda. Segway Ryan can mark that as a victory, since the rule has been revoked.
A profile of Segway Ryan in the University of Wisconsin’s Badger Herald portrayed him as a big talker who couldn’t quite back up everything he said about himself with hard proof. The profile also noted how in online communities Segway Ryan is often reviled with one internet commenter calling him the “‘liberal’ version of the James O’Keefe the ACORN pimp [sic].”
But this version of O’Keefe also rides a Segway, constantly. Segway Ryan says he suffers from Anderson-Tawil Sydrome, according to the Badger Herald. The disease is extremely rare and usually includes chronic paralysis and arrhythmia. Segway Ryan also said he suffers from five cardiac arrests. Altogether that makes Segway Ryan’s body pretty fragile. The Segway is meant to compensate for that.
Segway Ryan has become famous for riding his Segway around the Wisconsin legislature.
As for his campaign against the popular Republican congressman and former vice presidential candidate, Segway Ryan isn’t sure he’s going to hire a campaign team. It’s also unclear what Segway Ryan does to earn money these days. In an interview with TPM, he said he runs a “global wholesale consulting firm in telecommunications” — but he refused disclose who his clients were and couldn’t really offer any hard proof that he actually did work in telecommunications.
“The best I can offer is just talking to people who have been around me for the past several years,” Segway Ryan told TPM. “Some of my friends can confirm that I’ve been bringing large sums of money for a very long time.”
Segway Ryan, in fact, is actually a veteran political candidate. He ran, under the “Individual Party,” for state Rep. Chris Taylor’s (D) 76th District in 2012. The way Segway Ryan sees it, his best chance of being elected to Congress is by ousting Rep. Ryan.
“Since my last name is Ryan, he is going to be forced to at least acknowledge me to differentiate himself from me,” Segway Ryan told TPM. “He might not have to acknowledge what I say, he might not acknowledge what I do or my beliefs but he’ll have to differentiate himself from me. And this will allow me to get my name out there more than any other race I could run in.”
Rep. Ryan is the heavy favorite to win reelection in his district. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
He told TPM that he isn’t liked by either Republicans or Democrats and that he really can’t align closely enough with one party or the other.
“The Democratic Party of Wisconsin doesn’t like because I have done many consider to be left wing activism and they have no control other. The Republican Party doesn’t like me because their current agenda does not align at all with their founding agenda and their principles that are even stated on their website and I intend to expose that and they don’t tend to like that very much,” he said.
On Friday, Segway Ryan unveiled his new campaign website using the slogan “the Right Ryan.” Rep. Ryan’s campaign has refused to answer
One Democratic campaign official who specializes in Wisconsin politics put it candidly.
“There’s not a chance in hell he wins that primary,” the Democratic political operative told TPM. “This is a guy who has somehow managed to offend both sides of the aisle. He’s just out there purely to grab a headline.”
(Photos of Jeremy Ryan via Facebook)