Paul Ryan is little more than a RINO whose position is rarely etched in stone.
Wisconsin Hopeful Seeks to Tie Speaker Paul Ryan to Donald Trump.
Nehlen did not prevail during the last election, if Republican’s wake up, he can show Ryan the door.
Randy Bryce, a local labor activist, is preparing a campaign launch in the coming weeks to challenge the Wisconsin House seat and has enlisted staff members including Bill Hyers, a Barack Obama alumnus who ran upset campaigns for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.).
Mr. Ryan, who has built an image as an economic policy specialist, is also one of the party’s most prolific fundraisers and has nearly $10 million in his campaign account.
And only one House speaker since the Civil War has been turned out by his own constituents; Democratic Speaker Tom Foley lost his seat in the 1994 GOP wave election.
Mr. Bryce’s challenge represents a change in the Democratic Party’s thinking about what districts to consider competitive in 2018.
“It’s a winnable district and Paul Ryan has gotten away with being a nice local person that they like,” Mr. Hyers said. “This is the first time where he’s really going to have the face the voters with the fact that he’s gone Washington.”
Local labor activist Randy Bryce attending a 2015 demonstration against a Republican right-to-work bill in the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis.Photo:Amber Arnold/Associated Press
WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan, for the first time since entering Congress, may next year face a Democratic opponent who has a professionally managed campaign and the prospect of significant financial backing.
In an interview, Mr. Bryce said he would seek to tether Mr. Ryan to President Donald Trump and argue that their effort to dismantle large parts of the Affordable Care Act has hurt working people in the district.
“They’re handcuffed together,” Mr. Bryce said. “People are having buyer’s remorse and they’re seeing what’s going on. Trump made a lot of promises that I can see why working people would support, but now they’re waking up.”
Since he was first elected in 1998, Mr. Ryan has only once received less than 60% of the vote in his district, which covers parts of six counties in Wisconsin’s southeast corner.
An Army veteran who took some college courses but didn’t graduate, Mr. Bryce, 52 years old, is a single parent who survived testicular cancer.
He conducted an interview on Thursday, in his pronounced Wisconsin accent, during a break from a project in which he is working to build a parking deck at the Milwaukee Veterans Affairs hospital.
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“I don’t think it takes somebody with a law degree or a doctorate to listen to their neighbors,” he said.
A Bernie Sanders surrogate in Wisconsin during last year’s presidential primary campaign, Mr. Bryce lost his two previous runs for office, a 2012 primary for state assembly and 2014 state senate race.
His chance to be competitive now, Democrats say, lies in riding what they hope will be a national Democratic wave that sweeps away the 24-seat Republican majority in the House, and the opportunity to raise millions from party supporters by running against the House speaker.
“He has to run a credible campaign and there has to be a national Democratic wave that captures and swoops up districts like this one,” said Sachin Chheda, a Wisconsin Democratic operative who is working with Mr. Bryce.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, above on May 25, is the highest-profile GOP target heading into a midterm election cycle where Democrats say they plan to challenge an unusually wide array of senior members.Photo:Tom Williams/Zuma Press
Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm, conducted a May survey that found that 51% of the district’s voters disapproved of Mr. Ryan’s job performance, compared with 43% who approved.
The same poll found 46% would vote to re-elect Mr. Ryan, compared with 48% who “think it’s time for someone new.”
Mr. Trump won Mr. Ryan’s district by 10 percentage points. Mitt Romney took it by four points in 2012 when Mr. Ryan was his running mate.
Mr. Obama won the district in 2008.
“There’s no question that Paul Ryan’s brand has been damaged, but I think it’s unlikely that he’s going to be that vulnerable,” said Charlie Sykes, a former Wisconsin conservative talk-radio host. “
He has not lost touch with the district. He maintains a presence there and he’s very well known.”
Mr. Ryan is the highest-profile GOP target heading into a midterm election cycle where Democrats say they plan to challenge an unusually wide array of senior members.
Of the 79 GOP-held districts on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “offensive battlefield,” 23 backed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.
Four of those districts are held by the GOP chairmen of major committees, one of whom, Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the Rules Committee, hasn’t had a serious political challenge in years.
Now a handful of Democratic hopefuls, including former NFL linebacker Colin Allred, are lining up to run in the suburban Dallas district.
Mr. Ryan could face other challengers as well.
David Yankovich, an Ohio political commentator, launched a campaign on Tuesday to be the Democratic nominee and said he is looking for an apartment to rent in the district.
—Janet Hook contributed to this article.
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