Ryan joins host of Wisconsin politicians in U.S. limelight

Paul Ryan is the first Wisconsin politician to run on a major party ticket in a presidential election, but he’s not the only state resident to achieve national prominence:

• Former Democratic Gov. Patrick Lucey was No. 2 on the presidential ticket with John Anderson when the two ran as independents in 1980.

• Former Madison Mayor William Dyke, currently an Iowa County judge, was the vice presidential candidate in 1976 with Lester Maddox’s American Independent Party campaign.

• Robert La Follette Sr. ran for president as a Progressive Party candidate in 1924.

• Former Milwaukee Mayor Frank Zeidler was the Socialist Party presidential candidate in 1976.

• Sen. William Proxmire, a Democrat best known for his parsimonious campaigns and for his "Golden Fleece" awards for what he considered wasteful federal spending, served from 1957-89.

• Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat and former governor, is known as the founder of Earth Day in 1970.

• Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold co-authored the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, passed in 2002.

• Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy was infamous for investigating alleged Communists in government. He was censured by the Senate in 1954 for behavior "contrary to senatorial traditions."

• U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist served on the court from 1972 to 2005.

• U.S. Rep. Les Aspin, a Democrat, served in Congress for 22 years before becoming secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton in 1993-94.

• U.S. Rep. Melvin Laird was a Republican congressman for 16 years before serving as secretary of defense under President Richard Nixon.

• Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Republican who served as secretary of Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush, also ran for president in 2008. He currently is vying for U.S. Senate.

• U.S. Rep. Dave Obey is a Democrat who served 42 years in Congress before retiring in 2011. He was chairman of the powerful Committee on Appropriations.