Bernie Sanders stumps for Randy Bryce for 1st Congressional Seat

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), right, campaigns at Memorial Hall for Randy Bryce, the Democratic candidate opposing Cong. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) in the First Congressional District, Saturday February 24, 2018. (c) Mark Hertzberg for Racine County Eye

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) made a campaign stop in Racine to support Randy Bryce, who is running as a Democrat against House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) to represent the 1st Congressional District.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) campaigns at Memorial Hall for Randy Bryce, the Democratic candidate opposing Cong. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) in the First Congressional District, Saturday February 24, 2018. (c) Mark Hertzberg for Racine County Eye

About 1,500 people packed into Racine Memorial Hall Saturday morning to hear Sanders and Bryce speak. Bryce said he hoped to attract voters who “felt that they had the rug pulled out from underneath them,” from retirees to their grand children. Sanders pointed out the importance of the race.

“Randy is not running against (just) any Republican. He is running against the most powerful Republican… the Speaker of the House,” Sanders said. “That’s why, brothers and sisters, the whole country is looking at this particular election because it’s not just another election. It is an election about the future of America. It is — to quote an old union song — it is about which side are you on.”

All eyes were on Sanders as he stumped Bryce in an effort to garner support from union workers, millennials, and black and Hispanic voters.

“We’re going after everyone who feels like the Republicans are redistributing our wealth to the wealthiest people in this country,” he told the Racine County Eye. “We want to bring in everyone that is coming to the realization that they are working twice as hard and getting less and less to show for it.”

Randy Bryce, the Democratic candidate opposing Cong. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) in the First Congressional District is applauded for his remarks before Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) campaigns at Memorial Hall for him, Saturday February 24, 2018. (c) Mark Hertzberg for Racine County Eye

A Caledonia resident, Bryce worked as a union iron worker. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he has never held political office before. He ran a campaign in the primary for the 62nd State Assembly race against Wisconsin State Representative Thomas Weatherston and against Van Wanggaard for the 21st State Senate District race, but did not win.

At the rally, Bryce pointed to how Ryan and Republicans at the federal level have focused on running up the deficit by giving tax breaks to corporations then going after entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid payments to make up the difference.

“That’s who he is thinking about now — the lobbyists and CEOs that are in his office every day and at his fundraisers every night. That’s how he passed this last tax bill. Now he claims he passed it for the middle class, for people like you and me… but why do our tax breaks expire while corporations’ don’t,” Bryce said. “Why does Charles Koch get a $1.4 billion tax break while a high school secretary gets a $1.50?”

Sanders pointed out to how Ryan has a war chest of about $10 million against Bryce’s $1.2 million war chest. However, about 74 percent of the money he has garnered came in as $200 donations or less.

“They may have the money, but we have the people,” he said.

Randy Bryce, the Democratic candidate opposing Cong. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) in the First Congressional District speaks before Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) campaigns at Memorial Hall for him, Saturday February 24, 2018. (c) Mark Hertzberg for Racine County Eye

Racine County Eye has reached out to Ryan’s campaign for comment.

Earlier this week, however, Ryan issued a press release about addressing a worker shortage in light of having so many available jobs. Foxconn alone is expected to hire 10,000 construction workers and 3,000 permanent employees once it finishes constructing a 20 million square-foot manufacturing campus.

“There are jobs available, people without work, and yet a gap persists,” the

The House passed bipartisan legislation aimed at overcoming the skills gap.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s why the House has passed bipartisan legislation, like a bill to measure program effectiveness and one to better help people overcome the skills gap and get back into the workforce. But what is a newer phenomenon is a booming economy thirsting for labor. Indeed, the economy is in prime condition for people to enter the workforce,” he said.

The primary race for the 1st Congressional District is set for Aug. 14, 2018. Bryce will face Democratic candidate Cathy Myers for the Democratic nomination. Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District encompasses Kenosha, and Racine counties and portions of Milwaukee, Rock, Walworth, and Waukesha counties. Ryan is also facing a Republican challenger Nick Polce, a former U.S. Army Green Beret and combat veteran from Lake Geneva.