Randy Bryce is a father, an army vet, a union ironworker, and a cancer survivor—per the description on his Twitter account (@IronStache; if you see him, you'll get it). Dressing mostly in jeans, a tee, and a hardhat (are you getting "My Hometown" Springsteen vibes yet?), he's a far cry from what a typical lawmaker looks like—and he's running for Paul Ryan's seat in Congress.
Bryce announced his congressional campaign Sunday in a video attacking House speaker Ryan's American Health Care Act (AHCA). It starts with a scene from President Trump's Rose Garden celebration of the House voting to pass the AHCA and repeal Obamacare. Trump is congratulating Ryan on a "job well done." Next you hear Ryan's words: "This is repealing and replacing Obamacare. Everybody doesn't get what they want."
Then Bryce's mother chimes in from Wisconsin: "It's a very painful condition. It's like hot knives going through you; and you can't talk, you can't swallow. It's terrible." She's talking about her multiple sclerosis—a condition for which she takes 20 drugs. If the AHCA becomes law and millions of people lose their health insurance, people like Bryce's mom and those with other conditions could struggle to afford those medications.
From there, Bryce's plans are clear: He intends to save health care. "What Paul Ryan and the Republicans are doing to take health care away from millions of us, to make it cost more and cover less, and to allow the protections we've gained to be stripped away—it's just unacceptable," he says.
He's not wrong: The proposed—and wildly unpopular—House bill is predicted to insure 14 million fewer Americans than Obamacare next year, with that number jumping to 23 million by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The still-secret Senate version of the bill would reportedly also cut Medicaid spending and disproportionately affect older Americans by letting states choose if they want to charge them more for insurance. And that's only a small portion of the cruel changes the ACHA plans to inflict on Americans.
But even with his hometown values and enviable 'stache, Bryce may still be a long shot, mainly because he has yet to actually win an election. In 2012, the Democrat lost his bid for a seat in the Wisconsin state assembly, and in 2014, he unsuccessfully ran for State Senate. Compare that to Ryan's track record with Wisconsonites: He was first elected to the House in 1998 and he's been re-elected six times.
Still, if we've learned anything about politics in the past few months, it's that anything—and we mean anything—can happen. And even with a losing record, Bryce is likely to gain some votes from this sentence alone: "Let's trade places. Paul Ryan, you come work the iron and I'll go to DC." Raise your hand if you'd pay to see that. (We would.)
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