Democrats Randy “Iron Stache” Bryce and Cathy Myers believe Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), one of the most powerful men on Capitol Hill, nicknamed “The Boy Scout” by President Trump, is vulnerable in Janesville, Wis.
On the right, some say the “alt-right,” businessman Paul Nehlen thinks he can do the Iron Stache and Myers one better – he wants to defeat Ryan in Wisconsin’s August primary.
But maybe no one will get a chance to take on the speaker of the House. Ryan has not officially announced his intention to seek re-election.
Some Republicans have said he’s so fed up working with Trump, Ryan’s ready to return to life in Janesville.
“We had talked about it before we first started,” Bryce said in January. “Like ‘if we really get this thing rolling, he might just bail.’ He looks miserable, and I’m happy to have something to do with that.”
However, a source told the Associated Press that Ryan will file the necessary paperwork and run for re-election. But this source also said nobody knows if Ryan will stay in Congress should a blue wave of Democrats capture the majority and wash him out of the position of House speaker.
“It’s a circus,” Mark Graul, a Republican strategist in Wisconsin, told the New York Times. “You can’t make this stuff up.”
Nobody seems to think Nehlen stands a chance in November, as he’s another loose cannon on the GOP deck. The Times called him a “white nationalist” and “anti-Semite.”
Twitter suspended Nehlen’s account in February after he posted what was described as a racist tweet about Prince Harry’s fiancee Meghan Markle.
The offensive tweet included a picture of an ancient black Briton, the Cheddar Man, superimposed onto an image of Markle with the caption, “Honey, does this tie make my face look pale?”
So, let’s say Nehlen, who has also posted lists of his Jewish foes, is toast.
But the “Iron Stache,” as Bryce is known because of his ironworker occupation and, of course, his thick mustache, could stand a chance against Ryan.
He may have never held elective office, but the Iron Stache has money. He’s raised more than $4.75 million, much of it outside of Wisconsin, thanks to celebrities on both coasts.
Chelsea Handler, the outspoken liberal comedian, posted a photo of herself wearing a fake mustache, standing next to the Iron Stache, and she hosted a $500 a plate fundraiser for Bryce.
“This guy has been an ironworker for 20 years and drinks whiskey. He is the real deal. If you can afford to support him, please do. If you can afford to spread the word, please do,” Handler wrote on her Facebook page.
What about Cathy Myers? Does this Harley Davidson-riding, two-term Janesville school board member and schoolteacher stand a chance against Bryce, who some in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District say has become Hollywood’s choice to run against Ryan?
Myers is upset that the Democratic Party’s elite are ignoring her in favor of a guy who challenged Paul Ryan to “come work the iron.”
After the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee endorsed Bryce in March, AP reported that Myers said the party elite “continues to think it knows better than primary voters and local Democratic activists.”
“No one has been able to answer this for me: Why is Randy Bryce a better candidate to beat Paul Ryan?” Myers said. “I’m talking about his qualifications, not his money.”
Myers’ feelings aside, at the end of Election Day would it be possible to upset Paul Ryan in his hometown?
“Randy Bryce is a more formidable candidate on the resource side and the notoriety side than any opponent Ryan has faced,” Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, said. “And if it’s a wave election, who knows?”
Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, for the first time in recent memory, called Wisconsin’s First Congressional District “competitive,” which means Democrats are picking up steam heading into November.
Kyle Kondik, managing editor of the University of Virginia’s Sabato Center, also said Ryan’s district is still “Republican-leaning.” And while anything is possible, even a Ryan loss, Kondik said that is “pretty highly unlikely.”
But still, even that little slice of light at the end of the 2018 tunnel gives hope to Wisconsin Democrats like Cathy Myers.
“Election experts are beginning to notice what we’ve known all along,” Myers said a statement. “This is the year we beat Paul Ryan.”
Far be it from Jeremy Adler, Paul Ryan’s political spokesman, to rain on any Democrat’s parade, but he left no doubt that he was sure the speaker of the House would run for re-election and would be victorious.
“We have no doubt that he’ll be re-elected this fall by a comfortable margin,” Adler said, “just like he has been the nine previous times that he’s been on the ballot in the First District.”