It would be an election that would send shock waves across the political landscape — a Democratic victory in the vacated seat of Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Political observers say it could happen. Candidate for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District Randy Bryce is running strong in a race that has become winnable for a Democrat for the first time in more than two decades.
Bryce also recently earned a powerful endorsement from a new political action committee that has already proven it can help Democrats win in deep Conservative-Republican territory. That group is End Citizens United (ECU). It recently powered Congressman Conor Lamb to a stunning upset victory in a Pennsylvania special election — that in a district where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by an overwhelming margin.
ECU also played an influential role in beating back the scandal-plagued Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama special election to fill the seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sen. Doug Jones eked out a victory in arguably the most Republican-dominated state in America.
If Lamb and Jones can win where they did, Randy Bryce has a decent shot at Wisconsin’s long conservative-dominated First District. The End Citizens United PAC is backing Mr. Bryce because he strongly supports its central goal — getting Big Money out of politics.
End Citizens United gets its name from the notorious 2010 Supreme Court decision that came to be known as Citizens United. This is the disastrous ruling that declared money to be the the equivalent of free speech and said that “corporations are people.” It meant that any mega-corporation or private billionaire — such as the Koch brothers — could donate as much money was they wanted to the political candidate of their choice.
The corrupting influence on American politics that resulted from Citizens United cannot be underestimated. Since the ruling, more bought-and-paid-for corporate shills have been elected to high public office while average American citizens are being disenfranchised from their own election process.
Tiffany Muller is president and executive director of ECU. She said Mr. Bryce “stands as a champion of the people.” She said the former ironworker and union organizer — who goes by the nickname “Ironstache” — thoroughly understands the corrosive effect Big Money has had on public service. Some have suggested that Speaker Ryan quit rather than face the popular Bryce in the election.
It is significant to note that Randy Bryce is turning away campaign donations from super PACs and other Big Money interests. So far, he has raised nearly $5 million by accepting donations of only $200 or less. This dovetails with the grassroots fundraising strategy of ECU. It has managed to garner $35 million by accepting an average donation of just $14 from hundreds of thousands of individual “ordinary” citizens.
Even though the Wisconsin First District is rated a R+5 by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, Bryce has been averaging an 8-point advantage in generic ballot polls. By comparison, consider that Democrat Conor Lamb won in the Pennsylvania 18th District which Cook rated R+11 at the time of the election.
In addition to financial support, ECU is helping Randy Bryce on the ground. Local volunteers of the PAC are working the streets and going door-to-door. The group has an army of 5,000 in Wisconsin’s First District. Flipping it from red to blue may just be the jewel in the crown of a victory that takes back the entire House of Representatives for the Democrats.