Continued from page 1

Mr. Zerban has called out Mr. Ryan for simultaneously running for two elected seats, which is legal in Wisconsin.

“This congressional race should not be a consolation prize,” Mr. Zerban said last week. “Winning this race and representing the people of southeast Wisconsin would be the greatest honor of my life.”

Mr. Ryan still enjoys a $4.8 million to $1.9 million fundraising advantage over his challenger for his House seat. But Mr. Zerban and his supporters say the race also is about showcasing what they call egregious problems with the incumbent’s 2013 budget proposal, which calls for significant changes to Medicare.

“Not only is Rob Zerban getting attention just because he’s running against a vice presidential nominee, but even before that he was getting a lot of attention in the district because he was bringing the focus back to what Paul Ryan actually was doing in Washington,” said PCCC spokesman T. Neil Sroka.

Mr. Powell, meanwhile, has tried to frame Mr. Cantor as an unapologetic partisan irrevocably beholden to large corporations and special interest groups

“We’re the underdog, and we relish that role,” Dave “Mudcat” Saunders, a longtime Democratic strategist advising Mr. Powell’s campaign, said last month. “After this campaign’s over, if we’ve done our job, Eric Cantor can forget about taking John Boehner’s job because the true Eric Cantor will be exposed, not just in the 7th District but in America.”