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.

Isthmus: Can Blue-Collar Progressive Topple Paul Ryan?

Isthmus: Can Blue-Collar Progressive Topple Paul Ryan?

Can Blue-Collar Progressive Randy Bryce Topple Paul Ryan?, September 2017

The video shows Randy Bryce sitting on a porch, chatting with residents, strolling with his arm around his 9-year-old son, then walking onto a construction site, hard hat on his head. The music swells toward a climax, and so does the man’s voiceover: “I decided to run for office because not everybody’s seated at the table. And it’s time to make a bigger table.”

With that video, union ironworker Randy Bryce kicked off his campaign against Ryan for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. After just one day, the video helped raise $100,000, mostly in small donations, from around the nation.

Ryan is in his 20th year in Congress with a seemingly indomitable record at the ballot box. But Bryce is unlike anyone who has ever challenged him.

Can Bryce — if he wins the Democratic nomination — succeed in toppling the House Speaker in 2018? Some say no…

Milwaukee Magazine: Can Ald. Ashanti Hamilton Rise to the Challenge?

Milwaukee Magazine: Can Ald. Ashanti Hamilton Rise to the Challenge?

Can Alderman Ashanti Hamilton Rise to the Challenge?, April 2017

A year ago, Hamilton stitched together a tent big enough for a half-dozen African- American council members – and three white South Siders – to elect him Common Council president in an upset that toppled incumbent Ald. Mike Murphy, a council veteran. But more than once since then, their tent has looked ready to blow away. This past summer, the council’s public safety committee, headed by Hamilton’s pick for chair, tough-on-crime Ald. Bob Donovan, fired off a draft plan calling for more cops, more jail and “boot camps” for potential juvenile offenders.

Isthmus: Judicial Oversight

Isthmus: Judicial Oversight

Marquette law professor takes a bite out of crime myth, February 2017

Photo by Matthew Muller.

Despite widespread belief that stiff mandatory sentences are to blame for Wisconsin’s high incarceration rate, Marquette University law professor Michael O’Hear argues that it’s a lot more complicated . . .

Isthmus: The Believer

Isthmus: The Believer

The Believer, February 2016

I wrote about Mike McCabe’s “Blue Jean Nation” political reform project for Isthmus in 2016. None of the handful of prospective candidates whom he inspired succeeded in the subsequent fall elections. But McCabe remains active — and he’s now inspired an enthusiastic movement to draft him for the 2018 Wisconsin governor’s race.

Isthmus: Wisconsin health care groups work with the feds on Obamacare

Isthmus: Wisconsin health care groups work with the feds on Obamacare

Wisconsin health care groups work with the feds on Obamacare, December 2012

While Gov. Scott Walker’s administration continues to give Obamacare the cold shoulder, groups outside of state government are stepping in to work with federal officials implementing the law in Wisconsin.