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Democratic candidate Randy Bryce, right, answers a question while debating opponent Cathy Myers on Sunday at Badger High School in Lake Geneva.

The debate Sunday between the two Democrats running for the 1st Congressional District seat managed amazingly to avoid one of the most pressing issues of this race: Randy Bryce’s lengthy arrest record.

The revelations have recast Bryce’s candidacy, and his opponent, Cathy Myers, has every right to publicly question Bryce’s fitness for office. Indeed, she would be doing voters a disservice by ignoring the matter.

Last week’s bombshell CNN report revealed Bryce has been arrested nine times, including for driving under the influence in 1998. Bryce apologists claim he’s taken responsibility for past mistakes and isn’t making excuses. But if that’s true, why did he get into the race in the first place, and why didn’t Democrats investigate his background before pumping millions of dollars into his campaign?

The Democratic machine has been so gaga over Bryce that it hasn’t bothered to ask whether Cathy Myers is, in fact, the superior candidate. Myers’ candidacy has been handicapped, too, by media outlets fawning over Bryce, most recently in a New Yorker story Monday, “The Fall of Wisconsin and the Rise of Randy Bryce,” which downplayed Bryce’s arrest record.

The most disturbing part is not Bryce’s single DUI or even a previous marijuana possession charge. People can make a mistake, and we believe in second chances. What troubles us are his multiple arrests for failing to appear in court and driving with a suspended license—all after his DUI.

Bryce’s rap sheet exposes more than a temporary lapse in judgment. Judges and prosecutors encounter criminals with records like Bryce’s every day. A chronic offender doesn’t learn from his mistakes.

What Bryce has learned from his missteps isn’t clear. The state of Wisconsin had placed a lien on Bryce’s property in 2015 for delinquent child support payments to his ex-wife, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. He paid off the debt only after announcing his candidacy last year.

Bryce has portrayed himself as a working-class candidate, but there’s nothing working class about carrying an arrest record like his. It’s certainly not what we’d expect from a candidate who raised $1.2 million in the second quarter.

He’s looking to become a member of Congress—to join the branch of government that writes this nation’s laws. Voters naturally seek out candidates who respect the law. A representative doesn’t have to be perfect, but he should have a history of conducting himself with dignity. Voters deserve better than a candidate with a lengthy criminal record. They deserve decency and should demand it in the 1st Congressional District race.

Editorials are written by the Opinion Page editor expressing the opinions of The Gazette. Editorials are separate from news articles, which are written by news reporters and do not include the opinions of the author.

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