Isthmus: A Republican Without a Party

Isthmus: A Republican Without a Party

A Republican Without a Party: Longtime Political Aide Breaks with Trump’s GOP, November 2018

For one longtime committed Republican, the midterm election results proved to be “modestly encouraging” — because of how well the Democrats did.

Joseph Britt of Sun Prairie spent a couple of decades working for Republicans, including for U.S. Sen. Bob Kasten and Justice David Prosser, when Prosser was the state Assembly Republican leader in the early 1990s. But Britt, who has worked in the private sector since the mid-1990s, has grown increasingly disenchanted with the Republican Party and its leaders over the past two decades.

Joseph Britt: “The party of Trump is the party of the Charlottesville white-right mob.”

Britt has been sharing his political change of heart with friends and on social media for a while, but with a 25-part tweetstorm on Oct. 8 he made a complete break with the GOP, declaring “I’m out.”

“What is there left of Lincoln in today’s Republican Party? Of Theodore Roosevelt? Nothing,” Britt wrote in the penultimate tweet from that thread. “The party of Trump is the party of the Charlottesville white-right mob, the party of concentrated wealth, and perhaps most of all the party that rejects responsibility.”

His digital cri de coeur generated more than 11,000 retweets and more than three times as many likes. It multiplied the number of followers he has a startling sevenfold, he says, now reaching 5,600 at last count.

One of Britt’s souvenirs from “time raising money on the phone for the Republican National Committee.”

… For the 60-year-old Britt, the GOP is all but unrecognizable from the one that caught his attention while he was growing up on Long Island in a modest middle-class community. He says he was a political junkie in a largely non-political family by the time he was a teenager. A few years after college he went to work on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide, eventually joining Kasten’s office to specialize in agricultural policy. Traveling around Wisconsin for meetings with Kasten’s farm advisors, he grew to love the Dairy State and eagerly returned to work for Prosser and settle down here a few years later. …

 

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.

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…

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.

Milwaukee Magazine: The Long-Lasting Effects of Redistricting in Wisconsin

Milwaukee Magazine: The Long-Lasting Effects of Redistricting in Wisconsin

The Long-Lasting Effects of Redistricting in Wisconsin, October 2017

Following 2010’s Republican-friendly mid-term election and the decennial census, many states, including Wisconsin, rewrote their congressional and legislative boundaries to favor the right wing. Our state is also one in 37 in which legislatures (and by extension political parties) have final control over the maps, as opposed to special bodies. However, it had been decades since a single party had control of state government during decennial redistricting…

There’s a word for drawing districts that give a lopsided advantage to one political party – gerrymandering – and the Supreme Court ruled more than 50 years ago that it can violate the Constitution by making some votes worth less than others. But justices have fallen short of a consensus on how to measure and limit partisan gerrymandering, and attempts to get them to overturn state maps, whether drawn by Republicans or Democrats, have failed.

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…