A Republican primary is certain and a Democratic primary probable Aug. 14 as the parties choose their candidates to replace longtime 1st Congressional District Rep. Paul Ryan.
Randy Bryce and Cathy Myers are the Democratic candidates.
Myers submitted nomination papers ahead of Friday’s deadline, but the state Elections Commission had not approved them as of the Gazette’s publishing deadline Friday night. A spokesman said approval could come as late as Saturday.
On the Republican side, those approved for the primary were Brad Boivin, Paul Nehlen, Nick Polce, Kevin Adam Steen and Bryan Steil.
Republican candidates Jeremy Ryan and Ken Yorgan submitted papers, but they were not yet approved.
The Gazette asked the candidates for emailed responses.
Myers, 55, is a Janesville School Board member and teacher in the Hononegah (Illinois) School District.
Myers said she is the best prepared candidate to lead.
“I was the top vote-getter when I ran for the Janesville School Board in 2013, and I more than doubled my vote when I was re-elected in 2016. My primary opponent has already lost three elections with less than 40 percent of the vote, and he has never won a primary. I wouldn’t be running for Congress if I hadn’t first earned the support of my local community,” Myers wrote.
Myers said her top priority in Congress would be to advocate for the parts of her platform that could pass right away with significant bipartisan support, such as universal background checks on all gun purchases and the DREAM Act to protect people brought to this country illegally as children.
Bryce,53, of Caledonia, has been an ironworker for 20 years.
“The working people of this district have been struggling under the past 20 years of Republican representation, and I know this because I’ve been struggling alongside them,” Bryce wrote. “I have seen firsthand how working people don’t have a voice in our politics, not in the way they should. ...
“I think any Democrat that wants to run for office and help local Wisconsinites is genuinely trying to push back against the status quo in Washington, but I think voters are looking for someone who isn’t the typical candidate and who understands their struggles. That’s why I think I am best suited for this congressional seat: because I’m fighting to build a bigger table for everyone.
“My priority is fighting for policies that help working families,” Bryce said, including Medicare for all, expanding Social Security, tuition-free college and protecting the district’s good-paying jobs.
Bryce also called for making Wisconsin employers to raise workers’ wages by supporting unions, apprenticeships and training programs.
Republican candidates were asked what makes them the best choice and how they differ from the incumbent.
Boivin, 43, of Delafield, is a clinical psychologist for Advocate Aurora and Janesville native.
“I am the candidate most capable and willing to beat back the Democrats’ assault on our guns, our babies, our vales and our money!” Boivin wrote. “I have successfully challenged the identity politics of the left for more than 20 years and will continue to take the fight to them. I am a problem-solver who will bring expertise and experience to the opioid epidemic ...
“Being raised in a blue-collar, working-class family will allow me to represent the people of the 1st District in a way the other candidates cannot.
“I appreciate that Speaker Ryan has worked closely with the faith community. I will expand on that work, building on my own Judeo-Christian principles and leveraging relationships I have developed and sustained within the community over my lifetime,” Boivin said. “I will also increase the number of listening sessions with voters and expand them by inviting state representatives to attend so constituents can more efficiently address both state and federal issues simultaneously.”
Nehlen, 49, town of Delavan, owns Blue Skies Global LLC—American Designed, American Built Process Equipment.
Nehlen was kicked off Twitter and disparaged by Paul Ryan, among others, for comments many deemed anti-Semitic or racist.
“As the only engineer/businessman/(President Donald) Trump supporter who has made payroll in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District since 2008, running Fortune 500 SPX Corp. in Delavan, successfully closing foreign firms (and) bringing those jobs to Wisconsin, I am uniquely qualified to defend American workers from these other candidates who, like Paul Ryan before, will work against American workers in favor of the open borders Koch Brothers, US Chamber of Commerce, and other special interests,” Nehlen wrote.
Nehlen said he would encourage Trump to build the wall without Congress’ approval and save taxpayers “the myriad of burdens associated with illegal aliens, ultimately supporting the president’s campaign promise of America first.”
Polce, 39, Lake Geneva, said he walked away from a partnership in a security-consulting business at the end of 2017 to run for Congress.
“I’m the only one that’s running with a message that has specific answers to the policy-related questions that I receive constantly across the district,” Polce said.
Those issues include how to deal with massive national spending and debt, how to drive down the costs of health care and health insurance while increasing access, fixing a broken immigration system by putting American workers first and allowing business legal access to foreign labor, he said.
Polce said he’s also the only candidate who has experienced the decisions of elected leaders as both a member of the military and as a small-business owner.
Polce does not agree with Paul Ryan’s staying in Congress for so long. People should stay a few years and then return to the private sector, he said.
Polce also disagrees with Ryan’s votes to increase spending and Ryan’s support for “a certain amount of government intervention in the health-care system. I think that’s a problem.” Polce said he also disagrees with Ryan’s support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and World Trade Organization.
Ryan, 29, of Madison, said he runs businesses, “primarily a consulting/hacking firm in telecommunications.”
Ryan said he is “the only candidate with a platform that makes sense to people on both sides: ending Citizens United (Supreme Court decision), legalizing cannabis, ending tax breaks to giant corporations and passing them down to small and medium-size businesses such as family farms and imposing tariffs.
Ryan said he would differ from Paul Ryan by being “beholden to the constituents who elected me.” He noted that his agenda is nothing like the incumbent’s.
Kevin Adam Steen
Steen, 35, of the town of Wheatland in Kenosha County, is an engineer for Putzmeister in Racine County.
Steen said he’s the best candidate because “as a husband, father and a Christian, l believe that we are responsible to provide for and protect our own families. I will give voters a clear choice between myself and Dead Beat Dad Randy Bryce. We need individuals to serve that can take care of their own families before trying to take care of someone else.”
Bryce was delinquent on paying his child support and paid off the $1,257 he owed two months after launching his congressional bid.
Campaign aides told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Bryce fell behind when money was tight but that Bryce and his ex-wife made sure they met all of their son’s obligations.
“I am 100 percent pro-life, without exception, and 100 percent against any form of gun control, which would only serve to diminish my ability to protect my family,” Steen said.
Steen said Ryan has made some tough votes, and “I’m going to simplify the job. I will not vote for a budget that doesn’t reduce spending. The people of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District can count on me to vote every time to reduce spending, minimize government involvement and protect the rights and freedoms we all hold so dear.”
Steil, 37, of Janesville, is an attorney for Charter NEX Films of Milton.
Steil said he’s the best candidate because “I share the values of Wisconsin voters. For the last decade, I have worked for Rock County manufacturers. Our country faces some serious challenges, and we need leaders with a history of solving problems. In Rock County, we roll up our sleeves and address problems head-on. I will take that approach to Washington and work hard for the people I’m proud to call my friends and neighbors.”
The closest Steil would come to specifying differences with Paul Ryan was a criticism of the congressional budget process, which he said “has been broken for too long by both Democrats and Republicans.”
Steil added that he “will champion efforts to ensure our workforce is ready for the jobs of today, tomorrow and the future” and said his views are shaped by his time working for local manufacturers.
“I have also served on the UW Board of Regents, where I have been an advocate for affordable, high-quality education,” he said.
The Gazette could not reach Yorgan, of Racine. He posted a YouTube video to announce his candidacy in which he mentioned a website. None could be found.