JANESVILLE

Touting her own union ties Thursday night, Democratic congressional candidate Cathy Myers denounced comments made by her primary opponent Randy Bryce in 2015 and warned supporters about President Donald Trump’s impending nomination to select a Supreme Court justice.

Myers, a Janesville School Board member who teaches in Illinois, will face Bryce in the Democratic primary Aug. 14. Both hope to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican who represented the southeastern Wisconsin district for almost 20 years.

Myers planned to meet and greet supporters in Janesville but ran late after delivering a speech at the National Education Association’s annual meeting in Minneapolis. She addressed about 10 people at Hilltop International Pub via cellphone and lauded unions and drew distinctions with Bryce.

“My union negotiated a salary for me that made it possible to raise two kids by myself,” Myers said. “My union had my back when a student came to me and asked me to help him start a gay-straight alliance. We are at a time here when unions are under attack.”

Myers’ defense of unions came after the Supreme Court ruled last month that unions could no longer collect fees from nonmembers and after comments Bryce made in 2015 resurfaced.

In an upcoming book by Dan Kaufman, Bryce, an ironworker from Caledonia and union leader, is quoted as saying unions are perceived as “dinosaurs” and that “the labor movement has become lazy because it’s something that has been handed to us.”

Myers said Gov. Scott Walker attacked unions because they were strong, not “because they were weak.”

“I don’t think it is very productive to blame the victim,” she said. “I think they were attacked. He (Walker) attacked us because he regards us as the enemy, and people don’t do that when you’re weak.”

Julia Savel, Bryce’s communications director, responded to Myers’ comments in an email, saying, “Those who have taken part in the labor movement here in the state of Wisconsin know exactly where Randy stands, as evidenced by the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and countless other unions throughout the state and the country.”

If elected to Congress, Myers said she would remove obstacles to union membership and fight the so-called right-to-work laws the Supreme Court bolstered with its ruling.

Myers said her grassroots campaign strategy positions her as the only candidate that can win in November. She said her campaign has raised $1.1 million from 40,000 individuals, adding that she has personally made 30,000 phone calls.

Myers also sounded the alarm on the Supreme Court vacancy Trump is poised to fill. She said Justice Anthony Kennedy’s replacement could determine whether women can choose to have an abortion in the future.

“This is such a pivotal time. And, to me, this is a total nightmare,” Myers said. “I’m not sure we can stop it. I’m not sure what is feasible and whether or not it will work.”

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