It all started with a campaign announcement video on YouTube.
Randy Bryce, an ironworker and activist, was announcing his candidacy to take on Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. In the video, Bryce highlighted his mother’s sclerosis and the cost of health insurance as a primary reason why he was running. The video featured him walking his son to school and working at a steel mill. At the end of it he makes an offer: “Paul Ryan, you can come out and work the iron, and I’ll go to DC.” In the end, his campaign was endemic of an all too common democratic campaign flaw: unquestioned praise for a charismatic, but ultimately vacuous figure.
The video made Bryce an instant star in the Democratic Party. He appeared on CNN and MSNBC. Whoopi Goldberg praised him on The View. He was featured in several left-leaning publications. He raised $4.75 million by the first quarter of 2018. He even garnered a nickname “Iron Stache” for his career and distinguished facial hair.
Things looked better for the Bryce campaign when Paul Ryan announced he would not seek re-election. Ryan explained that he wanted to spend time with his children as they continued to grow up. Bryce argued that he scared Ryan away even though polls showed Ryan beating Bryce by a landslide. Bryan Steil, a member of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents and former Ryan staffer, won the Republican nomination in August.
Around this same time, the wheels started to fall off of Bryce’s campaign. It was discovered that Bryce had paid off $1,257 in late child support after announcing his candidacy. This revelation was followed by paying off $4,200 on a 15-year old car loan. As campaign season got into full swing, it was revealed that Bryce had been arrested nine times.
When it came to public policy, he had little. Bryce was clearly weak on foreign policy, saying he didn’t have specific solutions on North Korea’s nuclear program. When it came to firearms, Bryce said that he was a gun owner who wanted “sensible gun policy.” To add credibility for viewers, he fired a bolt-action rifle with a scope, but, before it was recorded, his campaign finance records included $435 for “media production props” at Dick’s Sporting Goods, calling his ownership into question. On law enforcement, Bryce tweeted that cops were “terrorists.”
Bryan Steil, a member of the University of Wisconsin Board of regents and Republican candidate, benefitted as Bryce’s campaign collapsed. The terrorist remark didn’t go well with the six county sheriffs in the first district. They all endorsed Steil, even though some were Democrats.
Bryce’s financial advantage ultimately worked against him. Even though he outspent Steil, 90.3 percent of his money came from outside of Wisconsin, most coming from New York City, Los Angeles-Long Beach, Chicago, Washington DC, and San Francisco. Conversely Steil received 61.5 percent of his funds from Wisconsin. His top metro areas were mostly in the district and included Janesville-Beloit, Milwaukee-Waukesha, Chicago, Madison, and Racine. Outside money might tighten margins, but it doesn’t look good to voters inside of a state.
On the night of the election, Steil won by a double-digit margin. The election in Wisconsin’s first district was a classic case of Democrats enthusiastically backing candidates without doing full research. Many of their candidates who rose to national celebrity were also deeply flawed.
There was talk in Texas of Beto O’Rourke being the next Barack Obama. Like Bryce, O’Rourke had problems that were magnified on the campaign trail. Calling for Donald Trump’s impeachment and touting “Medicare for all” works in California and New York, but not in Texas. Similarly, O’Rourke outspent his Republican opponent, Ted Cruz, but generous amounts came from places like New York and Los Angeles.
The same goes for two Democratic gubernatorial candidates. In Florida, the Democrats nominated leftist Andrew Gillum. Bernie Sanders endorsed Gillum, who wanted to vastly expand government-run healthcare, but it didn’t look good when one of his campaign staffers used a racial slur about white people in Florida. Then there was Stacey Abrams in Georgia; burning a state flag isn’t helpful with getting votes.
The Democrats did make some gains in the midterms. Getting the House of Representatives is a major victory. They also picked up a number of governorships. However, many liberals are disappointed with the “blue wave.” Democrats fell in love with candidates like Bryce, O’Rourke, Gillum, and Abrams. They were seen as presidential and vice presidential material. In the end, these high-profile elections were all losses for Democrats, leaving many in the party angry and uninspired as we head into 2020.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.