By Michael Sainato

On August 18, NARAL, Democracy Alliance, and the Working Families Party began promoting a marketing effort and petition to try to pressure CNN to allow Randy Bryce, or “Ironstache,” to debate House Speaker Paul Ryan rather than provide Ryan a platform on CNN for a Town Hall on his own. The only problem with this is Ironstache hasn’t won the Democratic Party nomination to challenge Ryan for his congressional seat in 2018. Rather Bryce’s anointment from Democratic Party establishment organizations and pundits continues the party leadership’s view of primaries as a formality to their own undemocratic aspirations.

CNN’s Jake Tapper openly debated NARAL and Democracy For America astroturfing Bryce’s candidacy on Twitter, and ignoring his Democratic Primary Challenger, Cathy Myers. “Why is @IronStache refusing to debate fellow Democrat @CathyMyersWI? Premature to demand to debate @SpeakerRyan,” Tapper tweeted, adding that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has held Town Halls on CNN without protest of her election opponents being invited as well.

“DFA endorsed before I even filed my paperwork.  Maybe we should let #WI01 voters speak for themselves.  I have the most local endorsements,”Myers retorted to Democracy For America on Twitter.

“My concern is that going up against the speaker of the house is no drill, right? He is one of the most powerful people in the country. I personally think that primaries are good. I think competition is good, and I think that people should have a choice,” Myers said in an interview with me. “That’s why I’ve been insisting on debate forums so the voters in the 1st Congressional District can really see who is out there, and they can, for themselves, decide who would be the best candidate to go up against Paul Ryan. That’s kind of the premise here behind my statements. I think it’s in both of our best interests to have a primary in order to make sure that we know what we’re doing, make sure that we’re ready to go against Paul Ryan after the primary.”

Though organizations are pushing for Bryce to be able to debate Paul Ryan, Ironstache is avoiding repeated requests to debate his own Democratic Primary opponent Cathy Myers, a teacher and elected Janesville School Board Member, despite claiming during a recent Reddit AMA when asked if he will participate in debates with Myers, “looking forward to seeing more folks join the race and looking forward to a robust discussion.”

Myers called out Bryce and Ryan for ignoring their own district and local issues in favor of garnering self-serving national public attention that does nothing to help the people in Wisconsin’s first congressional district. Bryce won’t debate Myers, and Ryan hasn’t held a Town Hall within his own congressional district for almost two years.

“The real concerns of our neighbors deserve real discussion, so I am calling on Speaker Ryan and Randy Bryce to take a break from the national press circuit and come back home to discuss local issues,” Myers said in a press release, noting Bryce has flown all over the country promoting his campaign, but has dodged all requests from Myers’ campaign to hold a debate or public forum featuring the two candidates. “It is in our best interest as candidates and in the best interest of Democrats in the district to have a robust primary debate so we are prepared to challenge the most powerful career politician in Washington. We already have a Representative concerned with fundraising from monied elites coast to coast — what folks need is someone who actually listens and who actually shows up right here in the First District.”

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