Solen is Democratic choice to face Paul Ryan

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Elliot Hughes
Tuesday, August 9, 2016

JANESVILLE—Democrat Ryan Solen will challenge Rep. Paul Ryan for his seat in Congress come Nov. 8.

Solen, an Iraq war veteran, unofficially received 58 percent of the vote Tuesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as of press time. He defeated Tom Breu for the chance to take on Ryan.

Ryan, who has represented the 1st Congressional District in Wisconsin since 1999, handily defeated his challenger, Paul Nehlen, on Tuesday.

Solen faces a mountainous climb in overcoming House Speaker Ryan, a leader of the Republican Party who remains popular on district and national levels. A Democrat has not held the seat since 1995.

“I'm fairly confident,” Solen said Tuesday, referring to the prospect of beating Ryan. “I don't see him as the kind of person that's going to turn dirty. This is going to be something that boils down to who has ideas for the people.”

Tuesday's victory alone could be described as an upset for Solen. As of the July 20 filing deadline, his opponent, Breu, had raised nearly six times as much in campaign funds, according to the Federal Election Commission. Solen raised $4,000, while Breu amassed just shy of $23,000.

That is peanuts compared to the resources Ryan has summoned. He has raised $6 million over the last 20 months.

Leading up to the general election, Solen said he will concentrate on fiscal issues, such as solving the nation's debt problem. He has told The Gazette before that he supported Bernie Sanders' campaign for president and is against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Solen, 39, is an information security analyst at SC Johnson & Sons in Racine. He served eight years in the military as a medical service corps officer before leaving in 2012.

He has a bachelor's degree in management information systems from UW-Milwaukee and a master's degree in international relations from Troy University.

Breu, 59, is a former plumbing designer and state bank examiner.

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