Speaker Ryan’s Challenger Receives $1 Million Boost

by Geoff West

 PASADENA, CA – JULY 30: Randy Bryce on July 30, 2017 in Pasadena, California.
PASADENA, CA – JULY 30: Randy Bryce on July 30, 2017 in Pasadena, California.

Democrat Randy Bryce raised more than twice as much money in the third quarter than in the first six months of 2017 as he mounts a long-shot bid to upend House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in 2018.

Bryce’s campaign raised a little over $1 million from July 1 to Sept. 30 after collecting about $433,000 during the first six months of 2017, according to his October filing with the Federal Elections Commission.

Bryce’s total of nearly $1.5 million places him 31st among House candidates in contributions received so far in the 2018 cycle.

Ryan, who has held Wisconsin’s 1st District since 1998, had raised $6.3 million as of June 30 and $8.6 million as of Sept. 30, according to his October filing.

While Ryan outraised Bryce nearly 6-to-1 during the first six months of the 2018 cycle, Bryce narrowed the margin to roughly 2-to-1 during the third quarter as Ryan collected $2.3 million. Only the most prolific House campaigns break the $1 million barrier in a quarter; for comparison, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) raised $956,000.

Ryan, however, had a major head start. Because he began the cycle with money left over from previous cycles, Ryan has more than 10 times as much cash on hand as Bryce ($10.4 million versus just over $1 million.) Still, Bryce’s treasury is bigger than any other non-incumbent running for a House seat, excluding self-funding candidates.

Ryan defends his seat against Bryce in a solidly Republican district in what is considered a non-competitive race, according to the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voter Index.

The House race is not considered one of the 81 competitive House races in the 2018 election, according to Cook Political Report. Wisconsin’s 1st District scores an “R+5” on its Partisan Voter Index, meaning the Republican presidential candidates outperformed the national average by five points in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections.

The number of “solid seats” for House Republicans has declined from 203 in May to 180 in October, according to Cook’s index, while the number of Republicans now in “toss up” districts has risen from two to nine. Republicans still hold a perceived edge overall, however, as 228 House seats are either safely or leaning Republican versus 192 for Democrats, according to Cook.