In the wake of Paul Ryan’s somewhat shocking announcement about retiring to spend more time with his family, election analysts are already scrambling to measure the potential impact upon Republicans’ slim majorities in both houses of Congress. And it sure looks like Ryan’s former Democratic challenger, Randy Bryce, is seeing much better chances in the aftermath. Bryce, a cancer-surviving union iron worker who introduced himself with a powerful ad and an impressive fundraising take, didn’t appear to stand a serious chance at victory against the representative who has been re-elected eight times.
All of this has changed now amid reactions to Ryan’s news that have been understandably divided. The Cook Political report has quickly moved Ryan’s traditionally red district from their “Solid” Republican to their “Lean” Republican column as part of their ongoing tracking efforts for the November midterms. Further, Cook Political believes that the race may become “even more competitive” between parties unless — to be perfectly blunt — a miracle candidate surfaces for Republicans before the June 1 filing deadline.
In particular, one very unsavory GOP candidate, Paul Nehlen, presents a look that the party wants to avoid:
Republicans have a deep bench here, and potential GOP candidates include state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, state Sens. Van Wangaard and Steve Nass and UW Board of Regent member Bryan Steil. A top GOP priority will be ensuring that openly anti-Semitic activist Paul Nehlen, who received 16 percent against Ryan in the 2016 primary, doesn’t win the August primary.
Given that Ryan’s retirement announcement came almost out of the blue (although it’s been clear for awhile that the GOP is struggling to pass many of President Trump’s desired agendas), Wisconsin Republicans will now scramble to find a viable replacement. Nehlen may be the most high profile contender, but he’s unlikely to win many votes. He not only previously lost to Ryan, but he’s been dubbed as an “anti-Semitic Twitter troll” and was even suspended from Twitter after tweeting racist content targeting Meghan Markle.
In comparison, the Democratic contender has proudly become the first congressional candidate whose staff unionized. The GOP was already sweating, and they’ll see no immediate relief with Ryan’s departure.