After serving two terms as Illinois Attorney General, Ryan launched two unsuccessful campaigns for Governor of Illinois, becoming the Republican nominee in the first (in 2002) and losing his party's nomination in the second (in 2010).
After earning a bachelor's degree in political science from Benedictine University, he graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law and subsequently worked for the DuPage County State Attorney Office.
He was criticized for his role in the unjust prosecution of two suspects in the infamous Jeanine Nicarico homicide case.
He and his wife Marie became parents to six children. His family life was marked by tragedy: his youngest daughter, Anne, died at age twelve from a brain tumor, and one of his sons, Patrick, committed suicide.
He lost the 2002 Illinois gubernatorial race to Democrat Rod Blagojevich.