Image: Paul Ryan
Carolyn Kaster  /  AP
House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 13.
updated 5/16/2011 8:30:07 AM ET 2011-05-16T12:30:07

Wisconsin Republican congressman Paul Ryan, chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, said Sunday he might decide as early as this week whether to run for the U.S. Senate to replace retiring Democrat Herb Kohl.

Appearing Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Ryan said his family and supporters just started digesting the idea.

"It was a bit of a surprise to us all," Ryan said of Kohl's announcement of his intention to retire. "I plan on making an announcement very quickly."

Kohl won't seek re-election in 2012

Kohl's surprise retirement creates at least eight open seats that could help determine the balance of power in the Senate.

Video: Gingrich: Ryan’s Medicare proposal is ‘too big a jump’

Other possible candidates include Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen; former Rep. Mark Neumann, who lost in the Republican gubernatorial primary last year; and Scott and Jeff Fitzgerald, a pair of brothers who lead the Wisconsin Legislature and are closely tied to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and current Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett are also being mentioned as possible candidates to keep Kohl's seat in Democratic hands. Other names that have come up include current U.S. Reps. Ron Kind and Tammy Baldwin.

In Ryan's CNN appearance, he also spoke about the debate over the debt ceiling and the nation's budget troubles, and said both parties are to blame for the current deficit.

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"Look, both parties messed this up," Ryan said. "This is not a Republican-created problem or a Democrat-created problem, it is both parties. And we've got to face up (to) that if we're going to get this situation under control."

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