In what was once a General Motors town, a union town, a city with a strong UAW presence, some people are having a hard time making heads or tails out of the Paul Ryan phenomenon.

Sure, Ryan represents more than Janesville. Wisconsin’s First Congressional District stretches from the south-central part of the state, down to the Illinois line and east to Lake Michigan and encompasses the Republican-leaning Milwaukee suburbs and other areas where Ryan gets a lot more votes than he does in Janesville and surrounding Rock County.

But Janesville — Ryan’s hometown, where voters backed Democrat Tom Barrett in this year’s unsuccessful effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker — has supported Ryan, too, even as he’s become an icon in conservative circles with a plan to slash government spending, reduce the federal deficit, rewrite Medicare and, Ryan insists, put the social safety net on a sustainable path.