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Democrats eying Ryan's Congressional seat

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Dan Plutchak | October 16, 2013

With the next Congressional election set for November 2014, the race to challenge Rep. Paul Ryan is beginning to heat up in southeastern Wisconsin.

Democrat Rob Zerban, a former small business owner and former Kenosha County Supervisor who ran against Ryan in 2012 for the 1st Congressional District seat, is expected to announce over Saturday that he is forming an exploratory committee in advance of another run.

The announcement rally will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct., 26, at the University of Wisconsin - Parkside in Kenosha.

Tickets are free and can be requested by calling 262-657-7400 or by emailing info@robzerban.com.

Also last week, Amar Kaleka, 35, the son of the Brookfield Sikh temple president slain in the 2012 shooting, announced he also would for form an exploratory congressional committee. He plans to announce his run as a Democrat next month.

Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District includes Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties, as well as the eastern half of Rock County, including Janesville. The city of Beloit is in the 2nd Congressional District.

Kaleka's father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, was a founder of the temple when, on Aug. 5, 2012, a white supremacist walked into the temple and opened fire, killing Kaleka and five others before taking his own life.

Kaleka told reporters he wants to bring accountability and transparency back to Washington. He blamed the government shutdown on Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman. Kaleka said citizens are tired of career politicians who care more about staying in power than serving the people.

Zerban would face Kaleka in a primary if the both officially get into the race.

Al Benninghoff, Zerban's committee coordinator, said that his announcement comes on the heels of new polling from Public Policy Polling showing Ryan within the margin of error against a generic democratic challenger (Ryan at 48 percent and a generic Democrat 46 percent).

In 2012, Zerban held Ryan under 55 percent despite being outspent three to one in what was the sixth most expensive Congressional race in the county in 2012.

Bennington also noted that Zerban defeated Ryan in his home county, his hometown of Janesville and also his home voting ward by a margin of two to one.

Despite redistricting, the seat remains within the top 15 percent of races that are considered competitive if the Democrats are to retake the House in 2014.

Ryan has spent recent weeks in Washington, working on a way to break the impasse over raising the debt ceiling.

The government went into a partial shutdown Oct. 1, after House Republicans declined to take up a continuing resolution to fund the government unless Congress implemented a one-year delay in the Affordable Care Act.

The government closure came on the same day that the health insurance marketplaces came online.

The debate then moved to raising the debt ceiling after the U.S. Treasury reached it's statutory limit for borrowing in the middle of last week.

Ryan had been conspicuously off the political radar during early negotiations until Oct. 9, when he published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the debt ceiling negotiations were an opportunity to tackle spending on entitlements.

In his piece, he didn't mention the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans moved away from the issue as a rallying point as negotiations continued into the week.

A primary would be held Aug. 12, 2014 with the general election Nov. 4, 2014.

 
 



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