Isthmus, The Progressive: Randy Bryce Stands Tall

Isthmus, The Progressive: Randy Bryce Stands Tall

Isthmus: Standing Tall, November 2018

Despite defeat, the “Iron Stache” inspired working class supporters

Randy Bryce told supporters in Racine: “Don’t hang your head. We fought one hell of a fight.” Photo by George Petrovich.

Randy Bryce’s 17-month quest to succeed U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan came to an end this week, but on Tuesday night, the Democrat and 54-year-old Racine County ironworker reassured supporters who packed his election night party that he — and they — weren’t going to go away.

“No, we’re not done yet — we’re just getting started,” Bryce told a cheering crowd at a bank-turned-party hall in the Uptown neighborhood of Racine after taking the stage to acknowledge his loss in the 1st District Congressional race. Republican Brian Steil, a corporate lawyer, former Ryan aide,and member of the UW Board of Regents, was crowned the winner a little more than an hour after the polls closed on Election Day with 55 percent of the vote.

In the end, despite a well-funded campaign and an enthusiastic base of supporters and volunteers, Bryce was unable to crack the solidly Republican district.

 


 

The Progressive: Randy Bryce, in Defeat, Looks at the “Whole Picture”, November 2018

Instead of gloom, Bryce and his supporters seemed to exude an air of gritty resolve

Randy Bryce on Madison’s Capitol Square this spring. Photo by Ken Fager.

Democrat Randy Bryce didn’t win his race for Congress. But as he thanked his supporters on Election Night, after the race was called for Republican Brian Steil, the fifty-four-year-old ironworker took a longer view.

“I’ve said it many times,” Bryce told the crowd of staffers, volunteers, and admirers who filled the hall in Racine, Wisconsin. “It’s not just about just winning one seat—the First District Congressional seat in southeast Wisconsin. It was never about that.

“It was about the whole picture. It was about taking back control of Congress. It was about standing up for working people. It was about pointing out the fact that if you’re an African American in this district, you’re in a horrible place, and things need to change.”

Given the heady excitement that Bryce’s campaign for the seat now held by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan had sparked among Democrats, the loss might have been expected to cast a shadow over the evening. Yet instead of gloom, Bryce and his supporters seemed to exude an air of gritty resolve.

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The Progressive: What Randy Bryce Built

The Progressive: What Randy Bryce Built

What Randy Bryce Built, October 2018

Randy Bryce on Madison’s Capitol Square this spring. Photo by Ken Fager.

Countless politicians—even Trump himself—have run for office professing to champion the hopes, dreams, and perspectives of ordinary working people. The 2018 midterm election cycle has given birth to an army of insurgent progressive stars, from New York to Michigan to Idaho, with their own distinctive backgrounds and biographies.

Even in that crowded field, the solidly built, mustachioed construction worker Randy Bryce—popularly known by his Twitter handle, @IronStache—has managed to become one of the most-watched midterm election candidates, running for the Congressional district represented for the last twenty years by Republican Paul Ryan, now Speaker of the House of Representatives…

Milwaukee Magazine: Milwaukee’s Parking Puzzle

Milwaukee Magazine: Milwaukee’s Parking Puzzle

Milwaukee’s Parking Puzzle, August 2018

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“It’s the single biggest land use in most cities,” says Donald Shoup, a UCLA urban planning professor who’s made parking policy his primary research focus.

Despite its ubiquity, parking is a finite resource, like every other form of urban space. But the number of cars — especially in Milwaukee, where we particularly love them — is potentially overwhelming. Managing that paradox is at the root of any city’s approach to creating parking at enforcing its rules. How well it’s managed can affect everything from development and employment to retail and nightlife to where people want to live. Add about 50 inches of snow annually into the mix, and you can start to get a sense of the enormity of the challenge in Milwaukee.

Isthmus: Surf’s up, Democrats hope to ride a wave through Wisconsin

Isthmus: Surf’s up, Democrats hope to ride a wave through Wisconsin

Surf’s up, August 2018

When Democrats gathered from all over the state in Oshkosh for their annual convention, speakers rallied delegates for what they hope will be a new era in Democratic rule.

Over two days of speeches in June, they attacked Gov. Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans on everything from Walker’s failure to create the 250,000 new jobs he promised when he first ran eight years ago to his administration’s handling of roads, health care, public education and workers’ rights.

But with virtually every exhortation came warnings against complacency. “Are you ready for a blue wave?” U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) called out to the crowd at the climax of her Friday night stemwinder. “Yeah!” came the reply.

“Well I’m telling you, we’ve got to part the Red Sea!” Moore admonished them…

The Progressive: So Long, Labor Rights

The Progressive: So Long, Labor Rights

So Long, Labor Rights, June 2018

It’s been six years since Rich Ahearn retired from the staff of the National Labor Relations Board.

Early this year, Ahearn got word of an impending shakeup at the agency. In a conference call with current NLRB regional directors around the country, general counsel Peter Robb outlined a sweeping plan to restructure the agency, the federal government’s preeminent protector of workers’ rights.

Robb’s plan called for shutting down an unknown number of the NLRB’s twenty-six regional offices in favor of a system of larger regional offices. And it would strip the remaining regional directors of their authority to investigate and resolve violations of workers’ rights, instead handing that power over to a half-dozen or fewer midlevel executives.

The Progressive: Faith Versus Trump, Reverend Responds to ‘Call of the Moment’

The Progressive: Faith Versus Trump, Reverend Responds to ‘Call of the Moment’

Faith Versus Trump, January 2019

Photo of Michael Rothbaum from his Facebook page.

Rightwing Christians have found much to like in the Trump Administration’s advancement of their priorities, including opposing Planned Parenthood, restricting abortion, marginalizing gay rights and women’s rights, and favoring private school vouchers. And they were heartened by his appointment of conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

But for other faith groups, Trump’s priorities have stirred alarm, and protest. Michael Rothbaum, a rabbi at a suburban Boston synagogue, guesses that his congregation of 280 families mostly vote Democratic. But few of them were what he calls “rally-goers” prior to Trump’s election. Then, he adds quietly, “absolutely, something shifted.”


William J. Barber II Responds to the ‘Call of the Moment’, January 2018

Photo courtesy of Repairers of the Breach.

The Reverend William Barber II has emerged as a leading voice in the struggle for rights for African Americans, the poor, and other marginalized people in the United States, especially in the South. In his former role as president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, Barber led the “Moral Mondays” movement that enlisted a broad coalition of people engaged in human rights struggles.

Barber now heads Repairers of the Breach, a multifaith, nonpartisan nonprofit group also based in North Carolina, and cochairs along with the Reverend Liz Theoharis a new Poor People’s Campaign—a “re-engagement” of the movement of the same name that the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. took up in 1967.

In late December, Barber spoke by phone with The Progressive about his involvements and how faith-based activists and organizations are responding to President Donald Trump.

The Progressive: Overcoming Hate

The Progressive: Overcoming Hate

Overcoming Hate: A Former Skinhead Works for Racial JusticeDecember 2017

Photo Courtesy Milwaukee Jewish Day School.

Arno Michaelis was once not just a white, racist skinhead, but a white, racist skinhead leader—a gang leader, he will tell you. He has left the beliefs that drove him—the bigotry, the hatred, the violence—far behind.

Yet he has not turned his back on that world or the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people who inhabit it. Instead, Michaelis is devoting his life to repairing the damage he feels responsible for and embracing the human diversity he once hated and feared. He hopes to encourage those flirting with that life to turn away before it draws them in, and help those locked into that worldview to find their way out…