Meet the populist Wisconsin Democrat looking to dethrone Paul Ryan

 In Science
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“If you look at the rich, the CEOs and the ones that own these corporations, they use our infrastructure,” Bryce told me in an interview this week. “Working people — it’s outrageous for us to pay for the majority of things when we’re the ones who are going to build things. … Without our labor, there is no capital.”

Bryce and I talked about single-payer health care, lessons from Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District special election, and Black Lives Matter. A transcript of our interview follows.

Jeff Stein

One of the things I saw in the Georgia special election is that Republicans buried Jon Ossoff in an ad blitz connecting him to Nancy Pelosi as one of her “stooges.” Would you support her for leader?

Randy Bryce

It’s impossible to appreciate enough the historic fact that she’s the first woman in that position, that she got a lot of folks together and got stuff done.

But people are looking at the Democratic Party and asking, “Where do we go?” I’m in favor of seeing new faces and ideas that resonate.

Jeff Stein

Do you worry about Pelosi being thrown at you? And how would you address that question if Paul Ryan makes that attack?

Randy Bryce

I’ll take help from anybody who gets on board with the messages that I’m putting forward — I’m for working people. I expect a lot of ugliness to come from the other side, and I’ve faced it being a spokesperson on behalf of working people issues in the state. So my skin has gotten pretty thick.

Jeff Stein

In Georgia, they pummeled Ossoff with this idea that he’s “funded by national Democrats,” even though they were mostly small-dollar donors. Do you worry about that even though you’ve seen this increase in small-dollar donors?

Randy Bryce

I’m not taking money from Wall Street or the big banks or the corporations — that’s out.

The person I’m running against, Paul Ryan, though he claims not to have time for public town halls in the district, he’s had over 50 town halls where people give him $10,000 to have a picture taken with him.

I’m not going to chop off my arm and get into a boxing ring with somebody. What I’m going to do is accept help from causes I already support. I’m not taking money from anyone who is hurting working people. The only time I left this district was when I was in the Army.

Jeff Stein

What do people in your district say about Ryan?

Randy Bryce

That he’s not around. He doesn’t do anything for us. He doesn’t listen to us. The whole thing with health care is that people are just fed up. He says it’s a health care bill, but it’s not — it’s a tax break.

The Senate bill? It’s a really cruel thing. It’s a really cruel way to deal with people you represent.

I want to say to him, “Let’s swap places.” I would love to see you walk on a beam a couple hundred feet in the air carrying tools that weigh 150 pounds. Working iron isn’t lifting weights in those posing shots with dumbbells. That’s not working iron as far as I’m concerned.

Jeff Stein

A lot of people see what’s happened recently in Congress as a war between private capital and the superrich and workers in this country. Do you?

Randy Bryce

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