Paul Ryan’s Cousin Laughs About High School Superlatives’ Irony

Adam Ryan, second cousin of Mitt Romney’s running-mate Paul Ryan, said he may not be watching the vice presidential debate tonight.

“I get too nervous,” Adam Ryan said.

The two cousins grew up together, both graduating from the same 1988 class at Janesville, Wisconsin’s Joseph A. Craig High School.

Adam was the one in the family who was named most likely to succeed at their public high school. Paul, who now represents his hometown in Congress, snagged “biggest brown-noser,” Adam confirmed.

Adam, who’s a Yale graduate according to his LinkedIn profile, can laugh about the irony.

He’s got at least one thing on his more famous cousin, though he doesn’t point it out: the Wisconsin congressman never rose as high in the family construction business, started by the cousins’ great-grandfather in 1884.

Adam Ryan is now president of Ryan Inc. Central, a land excavation firm based in Janesville. Paul Ryan worked in marketing for the company from 1997 to 1998, when he was first elected to Congress.

“He was very effective,” Adam said. “In a short amount of time, he made a lot of contacts, found a lot of potential work to bid on. It’s not surprising given his subsequent success.”

Paul, who has no ownership stake in Ryan Inc., never encouraged the family business to go into government contracting, Adam said. The firm dabbles in it though, and is currently working on a $4.9 million Illinois highway interchange project that received federal funding, as Bloomberg reports today.

The firm also won a Pentagon contract in 1995 to build a third golf course at Andrews Air Force Base, a project criticized by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers as a symbol of government waste.

That $6 million contract benefited the Ryan family, and maybe even the sitting president: President Barack Obama spent Aug. 4, his 51st birthday, golfing at Andrews Air Force Base. It’s unclear if he used the course built by Ryan’s family.

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