A Democratic gubernatorial candidate who finished at the bottom of the pack in 2018 is attempting a political comeback by running for Congress.

Josh Pade, a Kenosha attorney and business consultant who received less than 1% of the vote in the 2018 partisan primary, announced Wednesday his bid to unseat Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, in 2020 to represent Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.

The Capital Times first reported on Pade’s plan.

Pade, 39, whose stint in politics began with his 2018 gubernatorial run, admits he could face significant hurdles in facing off against Steil, a one-term congressman who received the backing of his predecessor, former House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“I’m definitely an underdog,” Pade said. “It’s never easy to win an election.”

Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in southern Wisconsin borders Illinois and stretches from Kenosha in the east to Janesville in the west. It has traditionally been in the Republican column, although Ryan’s departure in 2018 appeared to put the seat at risk for the first time since Ryan’s election in 1998.

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With the seat in play, Democratic groups raised huge sums of money to back Steil’s Democratic challenger, former ironworker Randy Bryce. Steil easily won the election with nearly 55% of the vote compared to Bryce’s 42%. That’s despite Bryce spending $8.6 million in the race compared to Steil’s $2.3 million.

The Cook Political Report ranked the 1st Congressional District as lean Republican. The nonpartisan politics newsletter does not consider the seat competitive as of its latest report.

Pade said he learned a lot about politics from his failed gubernatorial bid, and is prepared to run for Congress to represent the area where he grew up.

Pade said he plans to run making health care more affordable and providing more economic security for working families, especially those with only one income.

He supports providing a public health care option for the economically insecure, although he said he believes in the free market and wants to keep private health insurance options.

He added he wants to make the cost of college more affordable by providing more public assistance, as well as providing deeper tax cuts for middle-class taxpayers.

Steil spokesman Alex Walker said Steil “is focused on serving the people of Southeast Wisconsin and solving problems, not partisan politics.”

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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