Saturday, June 24, 2017

DCCC-- Never Too Busy To Protect Paul Ryan's House Seat In Wisconsin-- It's In Their DNA Now


That’s an old Blue America radio spot we ran against Paul Ryan at some point in the distant past. As you may know, Randy Bryce isn’t the first Democrat to go up against Ryan. In 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 Ryan's Democratic challenger was Jeffrey Thomas, a retired orthopedic surgeon from Ryan's hometown of Janesville. The Ryan-friendly Thomas' only issue for his first three runs was healthcare and he never quite cracked a third of the vote, but in 2006 he ran against Ryan's shady relationship with Republican corruptionists Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay and went all the way to 37%. In 2006 Ryan raised over $1.6 million and Thomas, who always refused to raise money for campaigns, spent $5,000 of his own. He was the ideal candidate for a DCCC uninterested in offering Ryan any kind of a challenge.

In 2008 Obama won Ryan’s district, 51-48%. Predictably (albeit irrationally), the DCCC had refused to back the Democratic candidate that year, Margaret Krupp, and she was only able to spend $134,042 against the $2,251,389 Ryan spent. He took 64.0% of the vote to her 34.7%. The following cycle, there was a lot of excitement about building on Obama’s win and finding a strong candidate to the on Ryan. The DCCC, in no uncertain terms, told Wisconsin politicians that they shouldn’t waste their time. A progressive activist, Paulette Garin, a member of the National Single Payer Alliance and the Wisconsin state Coordinator for both Progressive Democrats of America and the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care, stood up anyway. Paulette spent almost all of her time campaigning for healthcare reform rather than for Congress but in August, 2009, she faced off against Ryan in the only contest he agreed to participate in-- a goat-milking event at the Racine County Fair. Paulette beat him.

Maybe that made the DCCC nervous, because they smacked her down like a ton of bricks falling on her head. How dare she! She had only raised $3,549 in the primary. The DCCC found their own candidate to run against her, someone they were quite certain would offer no threat to Ryan, and put up John Heckenlively, a hugely oversized unemployed man who lived in his parents basement. After the DCCC worked to sabotage Garin and deliver the nomination to Heckenlively, they promptly abandoned the district and “their” candidate, who went on to raise just $12,066 and accrue just 30% of the vote (two years after Obama had won the district with 51%). That's the DCCC. They've been protecting Ryan's reelection bids every 2 years since 2000. I'm sure there must be a great reason and maybe Pelosi will tell us in her memoir someday.

When we set out to recruit a candidate for the 2018 cycle, we were fully aware that the DCCC would, once again, do whatever they had to do to keep Ryan in his seat. And so were all the local elected officials. Each one of them passed on the race. Finally, progressive state Senator Chris Larson and former candidate Rob Zerban each suggested I call union activist and progressive stalwart Randy Bryce. So I did. He told me he was leaning towards running and that the Wisconsin Working Families Party was urging him to as well. I started to get to know him and I could see immediately that Randy was not going to be another childish, wishy-washy moderate in the Ossoff mold. This was a fully-mature, independent-minded working class family man with a life of experience that has shaped his political perspectives. No one was ever going to have to persuade him that a living wage is better than a minimum wage or that single payer health care is the way to go. Bryce had long ago come to those conclusions and he’s been doing the persuading for years. In 2016, he had been a Bernie activist and a Bernie surrogate-- and after Hillary won the primary, he was a Wisconsin state elector for Hillary.

You probably know by now that he declared his candidacy last Monday. On Monday morning he had 7,200 twitter followers. His introductory video caught fire-- hundreds of thousands of views in the first few days-- and his twitter following rocketed past 85,000. Requests for local and national press started flooding in. The first member of Congress to endorse him was Ro Khanna, an economic populist, who said "We need leaders connected to the community who can speak with authenticity about the need for universal healthcare, better wages, and good jobs. Randy has a bold vision that is rooted in his life experience. It's heartening to see people like Randy step up to serve. That is what our founders envisioned."

But the DCCC wasn’t buying any of it. They immediately started looking around for their own “candidate” to set up as a shill to force Randy to spend his funds in a primary. Now there’s some stolen valor guy from somewhere-- Ohio or Florida-- that’s not WI-01 or even Wisconsin running and EMILY’s List quickly dug up one of their identity politics offerings-- a woman version of Heckenlively. Suddenly a battalion of silly Hillary dead-enders was swarming all over twitter spreading their poison. No one paid much attention and an interview with Randy by Sarah Jones in the New Republic made a mockery of all their lies.

Sarah: Tell me why you decided to challenge Paul Ryan.

Randy: I’m a lifelong resident of Southeastern Wisconsin. I graduated from public schools, went into the Army after that. When I came back, I was diagnosed with cancer and I didn’t have insurance, and now it’s considered a preexisting condition. I worked sometimes two full-time jobs to make ends meet. Finally, I joined the union, the Ironworkers Union, which had an apprenticeship. I got my journeyman’s card and I’ve been doing that for 20 years now. As I drive through the district I can look and see, “I worked on that, I built that.” So literally I spent the last 20 years of my life building the district. Looking over at Paul Ryan, I’m wondering what he’s been doing.

Things have been taken away from us. Autoworkers used to have a lot of great-paying jobs building cars. Right now they’re tearing down the UAW plant-- the General Motors plant-- in Kenosha, there’s a huge abandoned facility in Janesville, and some of the best-paying jobs in Waukesha County are going up to Canada.

People are working harder these days and having less to show as a result for it. Paul Ryan hasn’t been in the district for a town hall in over 600 days and it’s time to make a change. If I can’t perform my job I get fired at work. And it’s time to get someone who can do the job Paul Ryan was hired to do.

Sarah: How will your experience with the union influence your campaign?

Randy: I see this as an opportunity to create stewardship, to look out for the rest of the people in the community. Just like I’ve done as a member of the union’s executive board. It’s about taking care of people, and making sure that they’re heard, and that people are treated fairly. Nobody’s been heard, and that’s the biggest complaint right now.

Donald Trump won an area in Kenosha that had traditionally been Democratic, but people are waking up and they’re seeing that it was all talk. They have buyer’s remorse now. I’m a working person, I don’t play one in a video. That’s my life, and I’ve always stood with working people. That’s where I’m coming from. The majority of the people in this district are working people. They’re not corporate donors, and that’s who Paul Ryan’s been spending most of his time with.

Sarah: Do you support the Fight for 15 campaign?

Randy: I do, and I’ve been at numerous actions on behalf of providing people a livable wage. I feel strongly that anyone who works a full-time job deserves the freedom to be able to stand on their own two feet.

Sarah: Your first ad focused prominently on health care. Do you support single-payer health care?

Randy: I do. I am convinced we need to move towards single-payer. It works every place else. There are improvements that need to be done with Obamacare, but to completely remove it and the protections that are in place, I see that as the wrong way to go.

Sarah: Can you tell me a little bit about how you decided that your first ad would be about health care and that you would feature your mother?

Randy: Well, it’s one of the issues that’s intergenerational. The Ironworkers are self-insured, so it’s based on hours worked. So especially during the winter months, when there’s not a lot of work, it makes me, as a dad, concerned I might lose health insurance, which would affect my son. Do I make him stay inside in his room and wear knee pads and a helmet to eat dinner? Or can I let him be a kid? Parents shouldn’t have to worry about that. It also affects me personally being a cancer survivor. Luckily I’ve been in remission, but what if it comes back? How is it going to affect me? And with medical bills being the leading cause of bankruptcy I don’t want to be in that position. I don’t want to have to choose between paying my rent or seeing my doctor.

And it affects my parents: My mom, who is in the video, has multiple sclerosis. Luckily she has insurance that can get her the medication she needs, but there are too many people that don’t. If one person can’t get the medication they need, that’s wrong. My father’s in assisted living because he has Alzheimer’s, so that affects my mom too. Thankfully, she is able to have her independence due to the medication she takes, so she can go see my dad. Health care is a universal issue that affects all ages and all races-- everybody, regardless of economic status.

Sarah: What’s your position on abortion rights?

Randy: I am firmly committed that it is a woman’s choice to make decisions about what happens to her body.

Sarah: And you support LGBT rights as well?

Randy: Absolutely.

Sarah: For people who aren’t from your district: What do you want them to understand about it?

Randy: It’s a broad section of Wisconsin. There’s large urban areas, cities like Racine and Kenosha, which is now the third-largest city, and more to the west it’s all farmland. It’s a big cross-section of working people. You could pick up the first district in Wisconsin and put it pretty much any place on the map and it would blend in anywhere across the United States. It’s a lot of people, and it’s made up of different ethnicities, and it’s a melting pot of what America should be. We take care of our neighbors.

Sarah: How are you going to address the urban-rural divide in your campaign?

Randy: It’s easier to hit the urban areas as far as reaching more people, but there’s going to be emphasis placed on going to the harder-to-reach places. We need to pay attention to everybody in the district. It’s easier for me, living where I do, to reach out to the urban people, but there are concerns too for farmers-- like making sure that rural roads are taken care of, that they have access to things like broadband service.

I’ve always had such a healthy respect for farmers. I know the hours I put in are hard hours, but we have eight-hour days. Farmers work from sunup to sundown; they don’t get days off and they have to worry about their retirement. Maybe it’s getting them access to some kind of pension system, so that after donating the best years of their life to raising the farm they have some restful years to enjoy what they earned.

Sarah: Paul Ryan often appeals to his roots. But you seem to have a very different vision about what it means to be from a state like Wisconsin.

Randy: It’s obvious who Paul Ryan is making his decisions for when he has time to go to 50 fundraisers throughout the country and not have one town hall in his own district. If I don’t show up for my job, I’ll get fired and they’ll get somebody else to take my spot. I can’t imagine asking somebody for $10,000 to have their picture taken with me. That’s unimaginable. It shows where his priorities are and they aren’t the people in this district. When he shows up there are breaking news alerts: Paul Ryan has been seen in the First Congressional District at such and such a place. It’s so wrong.
Goal Thermometer There’s no doubt the Pelosi and her DCCC will divert energy and resources from winning congressional races to, once again, throw whatever they can in to protect Ryan, this time against Randy Bryce and his already popular grassroots campaign. But Randy's put together an intrepid and experienced campaign committee that knows how to respond to establishment sabotage and won’t shy away from a fight, not even with all the powers that be inside the Democratic establishment. And... they need our help-- which is why I’ve included the Blue America congressional ActBlue thermometer on the right. Remember, there's no such thing as a contribution too small-- not when you're talking about a grassroots campaign. Please consider giving what you can. It’s a real shame about Mark Pocan though. I had such high hopes for him. We saw him as such a promising guy…

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At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What does your reference to Pocan mean?

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Bula said...


"It’s a real shame about Mark Pocan though. I had such high hopes for him. We saw him as such a promising guy…"

Please explain...

At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Confused said...

I'm confused by your comment about Mark Pocan at the end of the article. What's Pocan done???

At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Glenn O. said...

I believe there's a perception among the (D) movers & shakers that hate/fear re. Ryan draws many voters Left. It's a wienie-wimpy mirror of the (R)s' vicious-slanderous strategizing. (R)s can't come up with policy's that are good for enough voters to justify support of (R) politicians so they instead slander (D) politicians with bogus investigations, obstruct effectiveness, and dismantle useful accomplishments of (D). The (D) mirror of this is deciding that it's messy to expose the (R) wrong-doing so they will simply leave the terrible (R)s in power to "drive" voters to us. So, (R)s deal with their inadequacies through aggression, (D)s deal with theirs through virtual passivity. Their both behaving like students who go through far more trouble getting out of their assignment than just doing the work correctly would be.


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