With his status as speaker of the House of Representatives, the far-right and the far-left see Paul Ryan as an easy target. The slump in Republican support over the last year has encouraged Democrats to try and topple him. Right-wing populists who believe Ryan is too establishment and doesn’t do enough to support President Donald Trump will try once again to defeat him in the Republican primary.
Wisconsin’s first district is one of the most politically diverse. It includes two major swing counties, Racine and Kenosha, as well as highly Republican Walworth. Additionally, the district houses a portion of Rock county, including liberal-leaning Janesville. These areas include swaths of blue-collar workers. Lastly, the district contains several conservative suburbs like Muskego, Franklin and Oak Creek from Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.
Ryan understands the diversity of his district and has never lost an election for Congress. Arguing that gerrymandering has led to his invincibility is difficult because he has been winning elections since 1998, way before redistricting under Republican leadership in 2011. In only two of these elections, has he received less than 60 percent of the vote. The gerrymandering argument is further weakened when taking a look at his electoral history, which shows the election he came closest to defeat was in 2012 just after redistricting, when he received only 54.9 percent against Democrat Rob Zerban.
Despite his electoral strength, many Democrats believe that they have a real chance to defeat. They are rallying behind Randy Bryce, a union ironworker and Army veteran who has received a lot of attention for his announcement ad, which focused on how the repeal of Obamacare would affect his mother, who suffers from multiple sclerosis.
The ad went viral and Bryce became the front-runner in the Democratic primary. In the first twelve days of his campaign, he received a record $430,000 in donations. Liberals are enthusiastic, calling him “the Iron Stache.” Bryce, however, has proven to be a highly flawed candidate over the last several months.
There were some warning signs for Democrats. Bryce has run for lower offices before, once for Assembly and once for State Senate. He lost both. He’s a man with no experience in political office running against one of the most experienced and powerful men in the country. While the left drools all over him, Bryce is drastically unqualified and it shows.When asked about how to handle North Korea’s recent aggression, Bryce said that he had no specifics and that he was going on a trip to Washington D.C. to get “better educated on the issues”.
Bryce also lacks basic knowledge on economic issues. When informed that the single-payer health care plan he supports would cost $32 trillion in tax hikes, he was fine with that solution because “there are a lot of people getting away with not paying their fair share in taxes right now.” This is false. IRS data shows that the top 1 percent paid $568 billion in federal income taxes, 39 percent of total taxes collected. When asked about the tax plan Ryan supports, he said he didn’t know that much about it because he’s been “really busy campaigning.”
Paul Ryan’s inability to connect with constituents has weakened his appeal — enter Randy BryceIn politics and sports, the most fun question to ask is “what if.” Perhaps it was the Chicago Cubs’ shocking Read…
Bryce’s personal finances are under scrutiny as well. He recently cleared a lien on his property by paying $1,257 in back child support. Last month he concluded a 2004 court decision by paying off a 15-year-old loan of $1,776 (at the time of payment, the total of more than $4,200 because of interest). Curiously, all it took for him to pay off these debts was his candidacy. Bryce has also had to apologize for a rude tweet he sent that attacked the relationship of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
At least Bryce does apologize. That cannot be said of the ignominious Paul Nehlen, who thought that his crushing defeat in the 2016 primary was somehow powerful enough to write a book about. His candidacy is one of the worst in recent memory. Every time he speaks, you can expect the opposite of truth.
Nehlen will spout off the typical talking points of the alt-right. He advocates for protectionist tariffs to end free trade because it will lead to “balanced trade.” I’ve already done plenty to debunk these arguments, which fly in the face of truth. Free trade has been very beneficial for the United States because it lowers the prices of goods for consumers.
Republicans in Wisconsin’s first district remember Nehlen’s despicable suggestion during the 2016 primary to round up Muslims and ban them from the country. He has targeted the speaker’s children because they’re sent to a Catholic school. His rhetoric is deeply uncivil and threatens everything America stands for. The idea that Ryan does little to advance Trump’s agenda is silly. It was his part of the legislative branch that passed health care reform. He’s also been very productive with tax reform.
Donors of Paul Ryan’s opponents must like wasting money. Reading the latest news on his opponents, Ryan must be smiling somewhere. Re-election is on the horizon and there’s little to no serious challenge standing in his way.
John Graber ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in history and political science.