MADISON, Wis. — A Democratic challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan will be attending President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, a move that a Republican congressman on Monday called “disrespectful and out of bounds.”
Union iron worker Randy Bryce was invited to attend Tuesday’s speech as a guest of Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan, who represents the congressional district that neighbor’s Ryan’s in southern Wisconsin. But U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican also from Wisconsin, called Pocan’s invitation an attempt to “score cheap political points.”
Sensenbrenner accused Pocan of trying to “sow political discourse and deepen a divide in an already fractured political environment.”
Pocan said that Sensenbrenner and other Republicans who haven’t forcibly stood up to Trump’s most controversial statements “have zero credibility to discuss the state of political discourse in America or what is disrespectful.”
Bryce is also airing a television ad prior to the speech hitting Ryan for working with Trump on passing the federal tax overhaul. Bryce is spending just over $3,000 to run the ad in Wisconsin on MSNBC and CNN, but he’s also spending $500 for it to run on MSNBC in Seattle and $1,000 in San Francisco, according to Advertising Analytics.
Bryce’s campaign spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions about why he was paying to run the spot outside of Wisconsin.
But Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Alec Zimmerman said Bryce was forgetting Wisconsin voters to court out-of-state donors.
“Randy Bryce should be ashamed that he’s decided to spend his money on getting to know West Coast liberals instead of voters in the First District,” Zimmerman said.
Bryce, who sometimes goes by the nickname “Iron Stache,” has cultivated a national following and raised money from around the country as he tries to knock off Ryan.
Janesville school board member Cathy Myers is also running as a Democrat.
Ryan has not said definitively whether he will seek re-election, saying he’ll make a final decision this spring.