Janesville31.6°

Democratic congressional candidate thinks Medicare plan could hurt Ryan

Print Print
Catherine W. Idzerda
April 17, 2011
— Medicare and momentum.

Rob Zerban thinks they could carry him to Washington, D.C.


Zerban, 42, is a Democratic candidate the First Congressional District, a seat currently held by Paul Ryan.


On Saturday, Zerban was in Janesville for the Democratic Party’s First District convention at the UAW hall.


Racine Mayor John Dickert, who took the podium before Zerban, reminded listeners that the last election showed that every vote and every race—local, state and national—mattered. He also suggested that Gov. Scott Walker be awarded “Democrat of the Year” for his work in re-energizing the base and infusing it with energy going into the next election.


That’s what Zerban is hoping for, too.


Zerban is a member of the Kenosha County Board and ran two successful businesses, both in the food service industry.


He sold those businesses in 2008 and wants to devote his time to public service. Along with his stint on the county board, Zerban also worked for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.


Is he daunted by the prospect of running against a high-profile Republican?


“No, I wouldn’t say daunted,” Zerban said in a phone interview after the convention.


“As long as the Congressman is out front and center, I think I’ll have a chance,” Zerban said.


Zerban believes the public won’t care for Ryan’s Medicare proposal. Ryan has proposed a system that would replace Medicare with vouchers that could be used to buy private health insurance.


“I think my main objection is to taking a system that is a part of the social fabric and replacing it with vouchers,” Zerban said.


Tampering with programs that take care of seniors won’t fly with voters, he added.


He also doesn’t think it’s fair to the neediest—or the middle class—to carry the burden of the cuts.


Considering cuts to student loans, benefits to veterans and other programs without considering cutting waste at the Pentagon just demonstrates “misplaced priorities.”


“This is the lowest tax rate on the rich that we’ve had in 80 years,” Zerban said. “We’ve got to ask the wealthy and corporations to step up and share the load.”


Janesville City Councilman-elect Sam Liebert attended the convention.


“I was impressed by Rob,” Liebert said. “He’s on the county board of supervisors, he’s a small-business owner and that means he’s created jobs.”


In the past, state and national Democratic committees haven’t given First District congressional candidates much monetary help, considering a race against Ryan a lost cause.


State Democratic Chairman Mike Tate has said the party’s “full resources” would be used in the race, Liebert said.


“I don’t think people are going to forget what Scott Walker has done,” Liebert said.


As for his future political career, Liebert said he was glad to be elected to a nonpartisan office—the Janesville City Council.


“I don’t think there’s anything partisan about trash pick-up,” Liebert joked.



Print Print