Two years ago, when U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan was up against John Heckenlively, who mostly ran because no one else was, Ryan took the stage and debated his opponent for Congress.
Two years before that, Ryan debated Democratic candidate Marge Krupp, a businesswoman, and before that he debated Jeffrey Thomas, a Janesville surgeon.
This year, however, there is no word on whether Ryan will debate his Democratic opponent Rob Zerban, who undeniably is the most serious candidate the party has run against Ryan since he was elected to Congress in 1998.
The big difference is that Ryan is not only going to have his name on the ballot for Congress this year. He will also be on the ballot as the Republican vice presidential candidate, alongside Mitt Romney. Along with that honor, Ryan has been busy, to put it lightly. Where he used to campaign to roughly 700,000, in the 1st Congressional District, he now has to spread the Republican message to the entire country.
But that doesn’t change the fact that Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, which includes all of Racine County, deserves a debate between Ryan and Zerban.
Zerban, a former Kenosha County Board member who has owned several dining service businesses, offers a stark contrast to Ryan, who has proposed a controversial plan to revamp Medicare.
Ryan’s campaign manager, Kevin Seifert, recently told The Journal Times that because Ryan has represented Racine County for 14 years voters already know Ryan and his voting record.
That is true, but now with Ryan in the national spotlight, a lot more information has come out, and Ryan should make time to speak to his constituents in person to defend his decisions and help undecided voters cast their votes.
If you want to run for two offices, you should give the voters a chance to see you side-by-side with both of your opponents.
Granted in 2008, when current Vice President Joe Biden simultaneously ran for his Delaware Senate seat and for vice president, he did not debate his Republican Senate opponent. He still won that race with 65 percent of the vote before vacating the seat to serve with the president. Even though he won both races, he also should have debated his Senate opponent.
Similarly Ryan is winning in the polls for his congressional seat, but a debate would prove to his district that he is still their representative at heart and that he hasn’t forgotten the district.
If it wasn’t for the people here in the 1st Congressional District, Ryan never would have gotten the opportunity to reach the national audience he is in front of today.