The House Speaker, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, will be met with a Democratic challenger in the 2018 midterms. One candidate, labor activist Randy Bryce, has released a campaign advertisement that has already drawn attention on social media (video below).
On June 19, Bryce announced that he would mount a campaign to take Ryan's seat in the Wisconsin 1st Congressional District.
"My values are my neighbors' values, and we know that Washington has gotten way off track," Bryce said in his official announcement, according to the Associated Press. "Whether it's healthcare, jobs, national security, education, or the environment, there's not one issue where Paul Ryan and [President] Donald Trump are headed in the right direction. It's time for a change in Congress."
Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran, a cancer survivor and a union ironworker who lives in Caledonia, Wisconsin. He previously made two unsuccessful bids for the state Legislature and will compete against political activist David Yankovich to capture the Democratic nomination during the Wisconsin 1st District's primary in August 2018.
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Ryan, who was first elected to the House in 1998, will be a formidable incumbent. The House Speaker won re-election in 2016 by a margin of 35 percentage points over former Democratic candidate Ryan Solen.
Despite Ryan's strong showing in 2016 and his leadership status in Congress, recent polling indicates that the GOP incumbent could be more vulnerable than ever come the 2018 midterm elections.
On May 10, a Public Policy Polling survey found that only 43 percent of voters in Wisconsin's 1st District approved of Ryan's job performance while 51 percent disapproved. And, 46 percent of respondents said that they would vote to re-elect Ryan while 48 percent said they would cast a ballot for someone new. When voters were informed that Ryan had voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the American Health Care Act (AHCA), 52 percent said they would be less likely to support Ryan.
On June 20, Bryce highlighted that potential vulnerability with his first campaign advertisement. The video showcased his mother, who requires multiple prescriptions and who tearfully wondered what would happen if the costs for her medications rose.
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"My mother has multiple sclerosis, my father is in assisted living, and I survived cancer in my 20s to have a miracle child in my 40s," Bryce said in the advertisement, according to AOL News. "What Paul Ryan and the Republicans are doing to take health care away from millions of us, to make it cost more and cover less, and to allow the protections we've gained to be stripped away -- it's just unacceptable."
The Democrat hopeful concluded his advertisement by extending an offer to Ryan.
"Let's trade places," Bryce said. "Paul Ryan, you can come and work the iron. And I'll go to D.C."
The advertisement swiftly generated attention on social media, with observers remarking on Bryce's blue collar credentials.
"[Bryce] was genetically engineered from Bruce Springsteen songs," joked one Twitter user.
"Guys there is a union ironworker running against Paul Ryan oh my goodness," wrote another Twitter user.
Freelance journalist Paul Blest remarked on the emotional impact of Bryce's campaign ad, tweeting: "If democrats have any brains at all this will be every 2018 ad."
Republican Party spokesman Alec Zimmerman released a statement blasting Bryce's prospects, honing in on the candidate's history as a labor activist.
"The voters of Wisconsin have already rejected Randy Bryce multiple times," Zimmerman said. "Instead of fighting for hard-working Wisconsin families, Randy Bryce will say and do anything to get to Washington and defend his liberal special interest friends."