RACINE — The Working Families Party, Democracy for America and NARAL Pro-Choice America are launching a campaign today calling on CNN to give equal airtime to progressive candidate Randy Bryce in the cable news network’s planned Monday Night televised Town Hall featuring Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s First District.
The three groups are emailing their combined millions of members with a petition calling on CNN and Town Hall meeting host Jake Tapper to change its format to give Bryce equal time and let Wisconsinites and viewers across the nation hear from both candidates.
Speaker Ryan has gone more than 650 days without holding an open-to-the-public town hall meeting. He has drawn protests in his home district and around the nation as he has traveled the country to meet with wealthy donors and CEOs, but has steadfastly refused to meet with constituents in his home district.
“It’s clear why Paul Ryan wants to do a Town Hall meeting, finally. He realizes he’s facing the race of his life, with Randy Bryce building up enormous momentum in the district” said Marina Dimitrijevic, director of the Wisconsin Working Families Party. “But I don’t think it’s fair for CNN to give Ryan all that free airtime, just for him. Voters in Wisconsin’s first district have a tremendously important choice between two very different candidates, and the CNN should let voters hear from both of them.”
Randy Bryce, also known as the @Ironstache, is a union ironworker, veteran and cancer survivor, and Working Families Party member. He launched his campaign in July with a video that went viral, in which he challenges Ryan to trade jobs with him: “You come work the iron, and I’ll go to DC.” Since the campaign began, Bryce has raised nearly $1 million, mostly from tens of thousands of small donors.
Speaker Ryan led the charge for the AHCA (better known as Trumpcare) through the House of Representatives as Speaker, which would have bumped millions of Americans, including 400,000 Wisconsinites, from their healthcare.
“If Paul Ryan is going to get an hour-long spotlight on national television, the very least that CNN should do is ensure the candidate who has him running scared, Randy Bryce, gets equal time to respond to Ryan’s inevitable attempt to cover up his role in advancing Donald Trump’s bigoted agenda,” said Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America
Paul Ryan argues that he’s held town halls, but they’ve been closed sessions with hand-picked participants. The CNN Town Hall is a powerful platform where Paul Ryan should be held accountable for his absence in his district as well as supporting the racist, divisive, and corrupt Trump Administration. It also should provide an opportunity, advocates say, for voters to hear a contrasting point of view from candidate Randy Bryce.
“Paul Ryan hasn’t faced his constituents in a town hall for nearly two years, choosing instead to spend his time propping up Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Steve Bannon’s radical agenda and support for white supremacists,” said Sasha Bruce, Senior VP at NARAL Pro-Choice America. “He and this administration are fueling hate, working to dismantle the greatest advancements in reproductive healthcare this country has ever seen, and advancing a world where women — especially women of color — remain less than equal. Instead of providing Paul Ryan with a highly-produced, Washington DC style platform for a full hour during the Congressional race of his life, CNN should allow Randy Bryce equal time to make his case for why he should be the next person to represent Wisconsin’s First District.”
Beyond the petitions already circulating, advocates plan to target CNN with a social media blitz, demanding equal time for Randy Bryce.