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Kenosha Democrat considering another run at Paul Ryan

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Frank Schultz
February 27, 2013

Rob Zerban isn’t saying he’ll try again to unseat Paul Ryan, but he’s making all the moves of someone getting ready to do so.

Zerban, a Democrat, said in a Gazette interview Tuesday that he soon will announce an exploratory committee to find out if residents of the 1st Congressional District want him to run again.

Zerban in November lost to Ryan, a Republican, but mounted the most serious challenge to Ryan since the Janesville congressman was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998.

Ryan, of course, was running for vice president and Congress simultaneously.

Zerban, of Kenosha, said he’s pleased with his showing last fall, and since then he’s been making public appearances, including a fundraiser for the Walworth County Democratic Party on Tuesday night.

The state party seems pleased. It issued a news release Sunday about Zerban’s speech at the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Democratic County Chairs Association in Stevens Point.

The news release said the meeting is “a traditional launch point for high-profile campaigns.”

Zerban’s speech apparently focused on the upcoming automatic federal budget cuts known as the sequester.

“Paul Ryan and his right-wing colleagues don’t understand the importance of investing in the American people,” Zerban is quoted as saying.

“He recently tried to pin the blame for sequestration on President Obama, but we all know he has been a longtime supporter of these mandatory, arbitrary caps that would be so dangerous to the middle class and our economy,” Zerban said.

Asked for comment, Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert issued a short response:

“Congressman Ryan is committed to getting spending under control. He recognizes that the sequester is an enforcement mechanism. It is only required if politicians in Washington spend too much. He thinks there is a better way to achieve these savings. That’s why House Republicans twice passed legislation to replace it. But the President and Senate Democrats have refused to get serious about spending.”

Zerban said Democrats and Republicans agree on the need to address debt and deficits but disagree on the timing.

Austerity is not the answer, Zerban said. Rather, the first priority should be to improve the employment picture, which in turn would help improve government finances.

Zerban suggested Ryan has been evasive when asked if he’ll run again in 2014.

“I found that quite interesting,” Zerban said.

Asked directly whether he would run again, Zerban said: “I’m certainly considering it. … I put a lot of hard work and blood, sweat and tears into that race, and we laid a lot of groundwork for the next campaign, if there is one.”

Ryan, meanwhile, has been named the commencement speaker for a small, Catholic, liberal-arts college. Ryan is scheduled to speak at Benedictine College on May 11, according to the Wichita (Kan.) Eagle.



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