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Politics

Meet Janna Little Ryan, Who Wants To Be America's Second Lady

She's a former Washington, D.C. lawyer and lobbyist with deep roots in Oklahoma Democratic politics. Her husband, Rep. Paul Ryan, just became Mitt Romney's running mate.

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Janna Little Ryan grew up in Oklahoma, the niece of the state's former Democratic governor and senator. She graduated from Wellesley College, the private women's college in Massachusetts whose alumnae also include Hillary Clinton, and George Washington University Law School in DC. Just a few years later, she met and soon married a freshman member of Congress, Rep. Paul Ryan. Today, Mitt Romney introduced Ryan as his running mate, and Janna Little Ryan, a year older than Ryan, could become the Second Lady of the United States.

After meeting in Washington during his first term in Congress, Ryan proposed to Janna Little at Big St. Germain Lake in northern Wisconsin, reportedly the spot of one of his favorite fishing holes. They married in Oklahoma City in December 2000.

Before their marriage, she was beginning a career after law school as a lobbyist/lawyer in Washington. According to OpenSecrets, Janna Little had several lobbying clients in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Working for PricewaterhouseCoopers, her clients included:

1998:

Cigar Assn of America

Cltn for Extension Expiring Provisions

Meridian Investments

Natl Assn of Convenience Store Operators

United Parcel Service

USX Corp

Vermont Yankee Corp

1999:

Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Cigar Assn of America

Meridian Investments

Natl Assn of Convenience Store Operators

United Parcel Service

US Forest Capital

Vermont Yankee Corp

2000:

American Assn of Nurse Anesthetists

Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Cigar Assn of America

Conoco Inc

Natl Assn of Convenience Store Operators

Steam Generator Coalition

United Parcel Service

Vermont Yankee Corp

For Williams & Jensen, they included:

1998:

AEGON USA

American Home Products

Cigna Corp

National Assn of Rehabilitation Agencies

Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America

1999:

American Home Products

American Physical Therapy Assn

Cigna Corp

National Assn of Rehabilitation Agencies

Novartis Corp

Pharmaceutical Rsrch & Mfrs of America

Wyeth

2000:

American Home Products

Janna Little Ryan's parents: Dan and Prudence Little

Janna Little was raised by Dan and Prudence Little.

Dan Little has served as a University of Oklahoma regent and was the head of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics in Oklahoma City — where a residence hall is named after him.

Prudence Little died following a battle with cancer in May 2010. According to her obituary, she, like her daughter, attended Wellesley College. Later in life, she was appointed by Governor Henry Bellmon as a founding member of the first Oklahoma Ethics Commission, providing vital legal guidance through the first Court challenges and political controversies and to the Oklahoma Council of Campaign Compliance and Ethical Standards. Beginning in 1992, Prudence served on the University of Oklahoma Foundation.

Janna Little Ryan's grandfather: Reuel Little

Via reuellittleclassicrun.com

Reuel Little, Janna Little Ryan's grandfather, helped form the American Party in Oklahoma in 1968 — suing to get let people register as members of the party — when George Wallace was making a run for president on a populist, pro-segregation platform with the party. Reuel Little then ran for Oklahoma governor in 1970 as the party's candidate, garnering 24,000 votes.

Madill, Oklahoma, where Janna Little was raised, still holds an annual race in his name.

Janna Little Ryan's uncle: Former Senator and Oklahoma Gov. David Boren

cache.daylife.com

Then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was greeted by former Oklahoma Sen. David Boren, as Obama's campaign plane arrived in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Saturday, March 15, 2008. The conservative Democrat from Oklahoma endorsed Obama's presidential bid in 2008.

cache.daylife.com

Although Boren was a conservative Democrat in Congress, he served as a foreign policy advisor to Obama's first campaign. Here's Boren, third from the left, at a meeting of Obama's foreign policy panel of former U.S. officials at a hotel in Washington June 18, 2008.

Boren currently serves as the co-chair, along with former Republican Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board.

Her cousin, the former Gov. Boren's son, is a Democratic House member from Oklahoma. Today, Rep. Dan Boren said:

“Andrea and I are excited for Paul and Janna. Janna and I grew up together and I couldn’t be more proud of my cousin.

"Like my late mother after whom she is named, Janna is a wonderful parent to their children and will be Paul’s strongest supporter on the campaign trail. Paul has a firm moral compass and has always approached his job as a congressman with diligence and honesty.

"Having many friends on both sides of the aisle, he is an effective and talented leader. Although we belong in different political parties, I see Paul as a friend, a fellow hunter, and most importantly, a family man.”

Janna Little Ryan on the campaign trail

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Janna Little Ryan shaking hands during a campaign event at the Crenshaw Gymnasium on the campus of Randolph-Macon College on August 11, 2012, in Ashland, Virginia.

Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.

Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com.

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