Paul Ryan challenger Randy 'IronStache' Bryce to attend State of the Union


When House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) looks out at the crowd from his seat behind President Donald Trump at Tuesday’s State of the Union, he may find himself staring down a mustachioed rival from his home district.

Wisconsin ironworker and potential Ryan challenger Randy “IronStache” Bryce will attend Tuesday’s address as a guest of Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and plans to use the occasion to shine a light on Ryan’s support for the Trump agenda.

“He’s really going because Ryan has refused to hold any public town halls in the district for nearly two years,” Lauren Hitt, the Bryce campaign’s communications director, said in an interview. “So, if he won’t come to the district, we’ll come to him.”

Bryce, a union member, cancer survivor and progressive activist, has become something of a celebrity among national progressives since announcing his bid to unseat Ryan in June. He’s already earned the backing of many national progressive figures, — including former Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), — and his campaign has already raised millions of dollars through grassroots donations.

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Topics you can expect out of Trump's first State of the Union
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Topics you can expect out of Trump's first State of the Union

Tax reform win

Trump's single biggest legislative win in his first year as president was signing tax reform legislation into law. He will undoubtedly tout this Capitol Hill victory in his speech.

Immigration

From the border wall to a continued call to end "chain migration," major immigration reform and a plan for the 690,000 Dreamers brought to the U.S. illegally as children is likely going to be a major subject of Trump's State of the Union address.

Trade

As recently as last week in Davos, President Trump has emphasized that he wants "fair" trade deals that benefit the U.S.

Infrastructure

Trump is set to release his promised infrastructure plan on Tuesday -- a potentially $1 trillion workup that was reportedly leaked last week.

Stock market

Trump often boasts of a booming U.S. economy via Twitter, and will surely use the rocketing market as evidence of his administration's good work.

America First

Building off his nationalist speech in Davos last week, President Trump will likely posture himself before Congress as a commander in chief who puts the U.S. interest first, and everything else comes after that.

National security

Where Trump administration rhetoric is concerned, national security and immigration go hand in hand. The address will likely also maintain elements of praise for ICE and law enforcement agency work.

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A poll released in December found Bryce within six points of Ryan. In 2016, Ryan handily won re-election by a margin of nearly 35 percentage points.

Bryce’s campaign also plans to run a campaign ad Tuesday night that attempts to tie Ryan to Trump’s agenda. The campaign is reportedly spending $3,000 to run the ad on MSNBC and CNN in Wisconsin just prior to the State of the Union, and another $1,500 to run the ad on MSNBC in Seattle and San Francisco.

The 30-second spot feature images of Ryan shaking Trump’s hand during the president’s first joint session of Congress in 2017, with audio of Ryan telling reporters “We’re with Trump.”

Source: YouTube

Trump won Ryan’s district by more than 10 percentage points in the 2016 election. But Ryan has spent the past year dodging questions about the president’s behavior and his campaign’s potential ties to Russia.

Bryce’s planned attendance has already provoked outrage from some Wisconsin Republicans. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who represents Wisconsin’s nearby 5th Congressional District, issued a statement lambasting Bryce and Pocan for what he called an “overt political stunt.”

“This is an attempt to sow political discourse and deepen a divide in an already fractured political environment,” Sensenbrenner. “Creating a spectacle like this — regardless of position or party — is disrespectful and out of bounds. ”

Bryce responded to Sensenbrenner’s comments on Twitter saying, “Wisconsin Republicans have now spoken out stronger against @MarkPocan for bringing me to #SOTU than they did against Trump’s shithole comments or description of neo-Nazis as ‘very fine people.’

“It’s no wonder why they’re going to lose in 2018.”

More on the State of the Union address

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Democrats not attending Trump's State of the Union
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Democrats not attending Trump's State of the Union

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

(ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)

(William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL)

(Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL)

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois)

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon)

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington)

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) 

(Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation)

Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Danny Davis (D-Illinois)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-California)

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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