Zerban's message has struck a chord with some voters in difficult straits.
Linda Wells-Toso, 61, who lives near the homeless shelter, said she worked as a nurse but had to quit to take in her 33-year-old daughter after she suffered a traumatic brain injury.
She's worried Ryan's fiscal proposals would make life even harder.
"Every day we balance how she can afford to live here. Are they going to cut her Medicaid? And he's busy touting Ayn Rand crap," Wells-Toso said, referring to the story of how Ryan read Rand's works in college.
Ryan is clearly operating on a different level. The Secret Service has all but barricaded the streets leading to his expansive brick home in Janesville's historic district. While Zerban worked in the homeless shelter, Ryan rallied the GOP faithful in Bristol, Va.
But his reputation as hometown-boy-made-good is so strong he might not even need to campaign in these parts.
"He's been there for us," said Margaret Delaney, a 65-year-old neighborhood volunteer. "He wants to serve, however he can do it. He's been here long enough. People know who he is."
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