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Can Randy Bryce Do It? Is Scott Walker Doomed? What About Keith Ellison?

The race for Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district is one of several crucial contests heating up Tuesday night

Randy Bryce

Randy Bryce speaks at a rally on February 24th, 2018 in Racine, Wisconsin.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

If the Trump presidency’s festering pile of scandals, corruption and human rights abuses has even a glimmer of a silver lining, it’s that his surprise victory has inspired a wealth of people outside of the political mainstream to run for office. Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof and Glenn Jacobs, also known as WWE star Kane, both told Rolling Stone after their respective wins that Trump’s political success gave them the confidence to run for office themselves. The phenomenon may be even more prevalent on the left, most notably in the case of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old former bartender who has emerged as the torchbearer for Democratic socialism following her upset primary win over incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th congressional district. On Tuesday night, Randy “Iron Stache” Bryce will look to do the same in the Wisconsin district long held by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. It’s not going to be easy, though, nor is it the only primary of consequence happening Tuesday in two Midwestern swing states.

Endorsed by Bernie Sanders, Bryce is an ironworker, veteran and cancer survivor. A fierce champion of the working class, he supports single-payer healthcare, a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free public universities. His challenger, local school board member Cathy Myers, boasts a similar platform. Though Bryce has emerged as a national star, the race figures to be close. Myers has attacked Bryce’s DUI arrest and late child support payments, which some believe could weaken Bryce’s chances in the general election. “Randy has been honest and apologetic about this issue,” said Bryce campaign spokeswoman Julia Savel, according to Roll Call. “I think voters really want to talk about things that affect them. They’re not concerned about a mistake from 20 years ago.”

The Democratic primary took on added significance when Ryan announced in April that he would not seek reelection. Bryce or Myers stood to be huge underdogs against the House Speaker, who has served the district since 1998. “The goal was always to repeal and replace Paul Ryan with a working person,” Bryce told Rolling Stone in April. “When we took it on, it was something we were very serious about doing, we were very optimistic that it was something that could be done with a lot of hard work. To see half of that mission take place, with him quitting, it said a lot, but it doesn’t mean that its by any means over.”

Instead of Ryan, the winner of Tuesday’s primary is likely to face Bryan Steil, a business executive and former staffer for Ryan who will look to capitalize on the district’s history of voting Republican.

The showdown between Bryce and Myers isn’t Tuesday’s only big primary race in Wisconsin. Several Republicans are itching to take down the state’s Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin, who is up for reelection this fall. Most notable among them are current state senator Leah Vukmir and ex-Democrat and veteran Kevin Nicholson.They’ve been at each others’ throats for months. Vukmir has criticized Nicholson for his past on the left, while Nicholson has called Vukmir another member of the establishment who was late to support President Trump. Regardless of who prevails on Tuesday, they’re going to have a tough time taking down Baldwin, who is currently polling ahead of them both.

A skosh to the west in Minnesota, Keith Ellison, who last October lost out to Tom Perez in the race for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee, looks to secure the party’s nomination to become the state’s attorney general. Despite recent allegations of domestic abuse, Ellision is still the favorite to take on either state representative Doug Wardlow or former state senator Robert Lessard in the general election, where he — or whichever Democrat defeats him Tuesday — will once again be favored.

More hotly contested will be the race for the Minnesota governorship, which is up in the air now that current Democratic governor Mark Dayton has decided not to seek reelection. The Democratic frontrunners are U.S. Congressman Tim Walz and current Minnesota attorney general Lori Swanson. The Republican frontrunner is Tim Pawlenty, who served as the state’s governor from 2003-2011 before mounting a doomed 2012 presidential campaign. He has since worked as a lobbyist. If he can win the Republican nomination, it would set the stage for what should be a close race between Pawlenty and whichever Democrat comes out on top on Tuesday.

Back in Wisconsin, heavy favorite Tony Evers will look to seal up the Democratic nomination for governor. If he does so, he’ll face sandwich-loving incumbent and failed presidential candidate Scott Walker in the general election. Polls have indicated that Walker’s tenure leading the state’s legislature may have run its course, and it would be a coup for Democrats to take control of one of the nation’s most crucial swing states. In an attempt to win back the hearts his of constituents, which reportedly favor Evers by double digits, Walker careened down a large slide at the Wisconsin state fair earlier this month.

As is looking to be the case with his bid to retain his seat as governor, Walker appeared to be the favorite before getting passed at the end and losing convincingly.

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