On Tuesday, Republican Karen Handel squeaked out a victory over Jon Ossoff, her youthful Democratic challenger, for a House seat in Georgia’s 6th district. That put an ignominious end to what, for hopeful Democrats the nation over, had been a heartwarming tale.
Georgia's 6th district is a traditional Republican stronghold, and the fact that Ossoff was polling so well against Handel seemed to be an indication of a nationwide Trump-backlash-fueled Democratic surge. Ossoff ultimately lost by just a few percentage points, and some pundits are interpreting the tight results as a boon to the Left nonetheless.
But as that famous old Austro-Hungarian proverb goes, an L’s an L.
And yet! Right on cue, here comes another outsider Democratic candidate for a nation of liberals to fall in love with. His name is Randy Bryce, and he’s a moustachioed Wisconsin ironworker running in the 2018 midterm elections in the state’s 1st district — which means he’ll be challenging Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House. Usually pitting an unknown against one of the most famous politicians in the country would not be a winning proposition. But Ryan’s ongoing push for Trumpcare has left him with a 25 percent approval rate in his home state. And his challenger has introduced himself to the world with one hell of a campaign ad.
As New York Magazine points out, Bryce is also “a cancer survivor, Army veteran, political coordinator for his union, and member of the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.” Plus! “His Twitter handle — @IronStache — evinces a savviness for social media.”
And as this dude on Twitter points out, his coming was basically prophesied by his eminence The Boss.
Lefties in love with an underdog story shouldn’t get too carried away just yet. As Esquire explains, Wisconsin’s 1st district “hasn't gone for a Democrat since 1995, and Ryan won by 35 points in 2016. The district went for Donald Trump by 11 points.” Adds the Washington Post, Bryce “has a great ad but a losing record. He lost a Democratic primary for state assembly in 2012. Two years later, in 2014, Bryce was defeated in the general election for state senate. And in 2013 he lost a 10-way primary for Racine County Board of Education, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.”
Still! His presence has the Republican Party shook enough to where they sent out a spokesman, Alec Zimmerman, to try and release some burns. Via the AP/NYT: “Instead of fighting for hard-working Wisconsin families, Randy Bryce will say and do anything to get to Washington and defend his liberal special interest friends."
We have a long way to go before the midterm elections. There’ll be many more accusations levied, many more teary campaign ads. For now, though, we just have the one Q: which classic tale of working-class ennui will Springsteen play at the Bryce rallies? There are just too many jams, too many jams.