Paul Ryan’s Congressional Opponent: Debate Me Next!

Paul Ryan’s Congressional Opponent: Debate Me Next!

Paul Ryan’s Congressional Opponent: Debate Me Next!

The Republican vice-presidential candidate is also facing a House race at home—but won’t debate his challenger. 


On the heels of last night’s vice-presidential debate, Paul Ryan’s Democratic opponent for his congressional seat wants a second round—while he sits Biden’s chair.

Rob Zerban is facing a tough road to unseating Ryan, who won Wisconsin’s 1st district with over 68 percent of the vote in 2010—and the district has since been reapportioned to include even more Republicans.

Yet, the district is still fairly purple—Obama narrowly won it in 2008, and the redistricting only added a couple Republican points. Zerban has far outraised any other Ryan challenger over the years, though he still lags far behind Ryan in that category.

But most importantly, Zerban believes that by exposing Ryan’s radical views on the safety net—Zerban notably supports a Medicare-for-all plan, as opposed to Ryan’s partial privatization—he can win over voters in the district. He believes a debate would be the best chance to do that.

“After Paul Ryan’s performance last night, a lot of questions for me were answered about why he won’t come back to the district and debate,” Zerban told supporters on a conference call Friday afternoon. “We’ve seen that on a national stage that he cannot defend his extremely out-of-touch budget, which calls for killing Medicare and trying to transfer the cost of these programs to the back of senior citizens across this country. We can see that he can’t defend his $5 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest people in this nation, again shifting that cost onto the middle class, hardworking Americans across this country.

“I’m confident that by having Paul Ryan come back to the district and try to defend his positions, which we know are indefensible—the numbers don’t add up—if he were to come back and stand side-by-side with me on a stage, the choice would be so clear we’d have this race in the bag already.”

Every newspaper in the district has called on Ryan to come back and debate Zerban.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has backed Zerban and raised $124,000 for him, and has placed 42,000 calls into the district through it’s Call Out the Vote program. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has also placed Zerban in its red-to-blue fundraising drive.

For a closer look at Zerban, he appeared on Up with Chris Hayes last month:

Read John Nichols' take on the debate Ryan actually took on.

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