Last week, relative unknown Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines after she beat incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in a New York Democratic primary for Congress.
That was a successful example of an “everyday, working people" running for political office, said Randy Bryce, a Racine iron worker running as a Democrat for House Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat. It’s an example he hopes to repeat.
“That’s what everyday candidates are trying to do, we’re trying to get that enthusiasm, get people to the polls,” he said. “We’re one of them, we understand the struggles of everyday people.”
Bryce appeared on Sunday’s episode of political talk show “UpFront with Mike Gousha” to talk about his campaign and recent hot topics like tariffs, family separation at the border and Foxconn.
Host Mike Gousha questioned Bryce on his similarities to Ocasio-Cortez’s “very progressive agenda.” Bryce said that he too is an advocate for Medicare for all, abolishing Immigration and Customs and Enforcement, and supporting free college tuition at public two and four-year universities.
Yesterday, protesters around the country gathered at Families Belong Together marches. The event called for the reunification of immigrant families in detention, and some rallies, including a rally on the Capitol steps in Madison, included calls to abolish ICE. Rep. Mark Pocan has recently introduced legislation to abolish the organization, and appeared as a speaker at the Madison event.
Bryce said he was “one of the earliest candidates to get on board” with ending ICE.
“When I came out with that statement, people were like, ‘Randy isn’t that a little bit radical?’ And I was like, well think about it. They’ve only been around for 15 years,” he said. “When you picture ICE, it’s a group that’s really terrifying the immigrant community … They've overstepped their bounds of what they were meant to do.”
Foxconn news returned to the headlines this this week as President Trump visited Mount Pleasant for a groundbreaking ceremony of the LCD panel manufacturing plant. Gousha asked why Bryce would oppose Foxconn, a project that would could bring thousands of jobs to his district and benefit ironworkers like himself.
“The building trades are going to benefit from the jobs, obviously,” he said. “The problem that I have with Foxconn is the $4.5 billion worth of Wisconsin taxes that’s being used for it.”
Wisconsin will offer Foxconn some $3 billion in refundable tax credits, though earlier this year the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated the public cost of the project at almost $4.5 billion, an estimate which includes local government incentives, road improvements and worker training.
Bryce said he’d rather see that money spent elsewhere, like on roads or education.
“It’s making sure that we get our money's worth, is my big concern,” he said.
Weighing in on Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, Bryce said that while tariffs could be used to keep jobs at home, he didn’t believe Trump was using tariffs in a well thought-out, long-term way, and his strategy seemed more like a “shot from the hip.”
“I support the goal of keeping American jobs in America, but what he’s doing is more political theater than actually getting anything done,” Bryce said.
Bryce will face Janesville teacher Cathy Myers in the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District on Aug. 14. Myers has said “she feels squeezed out and ignored in this primary, that there hasn’t been enough of a robust debate about the issues,” Gousha said.
“Has she been ignored?” Gousha asked.
“No … We’re building a movement and I like to say that we’re in construction, not demolition,” Bryce said. “We’re building something, we’re not attacking Cathy. I think it’s great that any Democratic candidate would want to step up to the plate and swing hard against (the) extreme version of Republicans that we have.”