Democrats have a habit of running milquetoast, centrist liberals who remind you of every annoying person involved with student government in college. The obvious example would be John Ossoff, who offered voters no compelling reason to vote for him.
On the opposite extreme of that spectrum lies Randy Bryce, an Army veteran, cancer survivor and ironworker who held leadership positions in his local labor union — all while sporting a mustache that makes this irony-loving writer whimper in jealousy (You can find him on twitter @IronStache).
Basically, if Democrats want to shed the image that their party is for a bunch of urban-dwelling marketing and public-relation executives, Bryce is the guy to do it. Unfortunately, that could mean that some of Hillary Clinton’s former Brooklyn-based campaign workers might have to start taking orders from non-college educated white men, but that’s a small price for victory. Socialism, after all, does seem a little bit cooler to the public if blue-collar badasses are the ones calling for it.
One small issue for hopeful Democrats is that Bryce’s track record of winning isn’t too hot. He lost a Democratic primary in 2012 and then a general election for the Wisconsin State Senate two years later. If there was a state where a tough talking (as long as we’re talking unions) Average Joe could win, Wisconsin would be up there. Fact that he hasn’t had too much luck demonstrates more pragmatism that Wisconsin Democrats might have gotten credit for in the past.
Regardless, Ryan remains vulnerable. His approval ratings are terrible, and his district isn’t so red that it’d be totally preposterous for him to begin growing a little worried about keeping his seat.
While Ryan crushed his last Democratic challenger in 2014 by 26 percent, he only carried his district in four points when he was on the vice presidential ticket with Mitt Romney in 2012. His district swung 10 points for Trump, but that was likely the result of former Democrats who liked his populist message. In other words, these aren’t necessarily solidly GOP voters.
A campaign video released last week by Bryce shows a possible message for Democrats in these red, mostly white districts.
In short, there’s no identity politics here. There’s nothing about how immigrants enrich our lives or how being scared of terrorism makes you “unAmerican.” Voters of both parties are unhappy with America’s healthcare system—and the current GOP plan doesn’t exactly calm any anxieties. Further, the focus on working families and individuals, rather than making the Democratic Party’s voters look like destitute losers, is a positive change.
Like Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign, a loss for Bryce (he still has to win the primary against Huffington Post blogger and Ohio Democratic activist David Yankovich) would still be a good exercise for Democrats. When you’re losing this much, any change should be welcome. Charge certainly worked for Republicans last November.