I was on a hospital board once where the CEO would go to Washington now and then and make the rounds on the many issues affecting health care. At that time, both Kohl and Baldwin were senators. I recall him expressing frustration with Baldwin and Kohl, saying their offices were lackadaisical and uninformed. About Ryan, he said, "he gets it," referring not to his politics but his willingness to work hard enough to be prepared and responsive.
I like Baldwin a lot and just wish Ryan would go away, but that's probably how he built his grass roots support. And it's another reminder how fatal it is for a politician to become/appear disconnected from her constituency. And dems have to deal with that perception.