Jack Ryan (Senate candidate)

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This page is about the U.S. politician; for other uses, see Jack Ryan
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Jack Ryan ran for the United States Senate from Illinois and was forced to withdraw due to reports of past sexual behavior.

Jack Ryan (born 1960) is a Republican politician from the state of Illinois. In 2004, he ran for the United States Senate, hoping to succeed retiring Republican Peter Fitzgerald. On 16 March 2004, he won the Republican primary, thus pairing him against Democrat Barack Obama. However, after reports of embarrassing allegations about Ryan's sexual past, he withdrew his candidacy on 25 June 2004 and officially filed the documentation to withdraw on 29 July.


Ryan spent his childhood in Wilmette, Illinois with his five siblings, and attended New Trier High School, generally recognized as one of the best public high schools in the United States. He graduated high school in 1977, and went on to Dartmouth College, where he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his MBA from Harvard University, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. After this, he worked for Goldman Sachs as an investment banker, first in New York City and then in the Chicago branch.

In 2000, he left Goldman Sachs and taught at an inner-city Chicago parochial school called Hales Franciscan High School. Ryan has never held elected office.

Platform and campaign

Ryan is a proponent of across-the-board tax cuts and tort reform, an effort to limit payout in medical malpractice lawsuits. He is a proponent of school choice and an approach that stresses accountability in education, a stance similar to the No Child Left Behind Act signed by President George W. Bush.

In a controversial move, Ryan had Justin Warfel (a campaign worker) follow his opponent, Barack Obama, twenty four hours a day and record everything he did in public on videotape. Warfel did not follow Obama into his office, private residences, or the bathroom, but other than this he recorded Obama at all times. Warfel also heckled Obama by yelling questions at him in public. The tactic backfired when many people, including Ryan's supporters, criticized this activity. Ryan eventually withdrew Warfel but did not apologize. [1] (,1,3572265.story)

Demise of the campaign

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Ex-wife Television and Movie Star Jeri Ryan

Ryan was married to actress Jeri Ryan in 1991; together they had a son, Alex. They divorced in 1999 in a California court and the records of the divorce were sealed at their mutual request. Five years later, when Ryan's Senate campaign began, the Chicago Tribune newspaper and WLS-TV, the local ABC owned station, sought to have the records released. Both Ryan and his wife opposed having the records unsealed, claiming that they could be harmful to his son if released.

On June 22, 2004, the California judge in the case agreed to release the files. The decision generated much controversy because it went against both parents' direct request and because it generally reversed the early decision to seal the papers in the best interest of the child.

Now public, the court filings by Jeri Ryan revealed that she claimed that her husband had taken her to sex clubs in New Orleans, New York City, and Paris where he asked her to perform sexual activities with him in front of other attendees of the clubs. Jeri Ryan described one as "a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling." In opposing court papers, Ryan denied the allegations, calling them "ridiculous" and accusing her of trying to libel him with the accusations, which he labeled "smut", and trying to sabotage a potential political career. After the papers became public, he continued to deny the allegations and vowed to stay in the race. Jeri Ryan refused to comment.

Before the Republican primary election, state party chairwoman Judy Baar Topinka asked Ryan if there was anything embarrassing in the files; he replied that there was not. Republican Representative Ray LaHood called on Ryan to drop out of the race. By June 25, Dennis Hastert, another prominent Illinois Republican (and the House Speaker) had "made some calls", according to anonymous sources reported in the Daily Southtown, and the consensus was for Ryan to step aside. The Southtown newspaper also reported that Ryan was expected to step aside. One of the factors--aside from the sex club allegations--was the belief that Ryan had misled the Republican leadership. As support continued to decline, Ryan withdrew from the race on June 25, 2004.

After the resignation, Republican leaders caucused to replace Ryan on the party ticket. Many potential candidates refused the seat, citing lack of money and almost certain defeat to the immensely popular Obama, late entry and being perceived as a second choice. Businessman James Oberweis, who finished second behind Ryan in the party primary, repeatedly mentioned himself as a possible successor, citing his willingness to spend his own personal fortune, rather than sap money from the state party. Oberweis' attacks on illegal immigration, however, were controversial within the party, as it may have been viewed as opposing President George W. Bush's proposal finding a practical solution to illegal immigration issues that was not yet accepted within the party establishment. They also considered Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka (who declined to run) and Andrea Barthwell, a Chicago physician and former Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (who announced she would like the nomination). Illinois Republicans eventually narrowed the field to Barthwell and conservative statesman, radio commentator, and frequent out-of-state candidate from Montgomery County, Maryland, Alan Keyes. In what was widely perceived as a victory for the conservative wing of the party, they offered Keyes the nomination on August 4, 2004. In an effort to promote his conservative issue agenda, Keyes accepted the offer on August 8. He went on to lose the race to Democratic candidate Barack Obama by the largest margin of any candidate in Illinois history.


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