Will Lightning Strike Again?

FedUp PAC StaffPaul Ryan

Republican insiders were shocked in 2014 when conservative college professor Dave Brat upset House Majority Leader and establishment mainstay Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th congressional district Republican primary. Brat’s victory marked the first time a sitting Majority Leader was defeated by a primary challenger since the position was created in 1899. This year, a conservative Republican in Wisconsin is hoping to give GOP elites a shock of his own.

Businessman and inventor Paul Nehlen declared last week that he will oppose Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in the August 9 primary for the Republican nomination in Wisconsin’s district 1 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Nehlan got right to the point in his announcement statement:

“Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have become front runners in the presidential election cycle because they have dared to communicate an anti-establishment message. They won’t be alone,” Nehlen said. “I will bring the fight straight to one of the most powerful establishment players in Washington, taking him on here in Wisconsin’s 1st district. Paul Ryan is a career politician. It’s time that career came to an end.”

The emergence of a viable Republican challenger in Ryan’s district wraps up a months-long recruitment effort by tea party activists betrayed by what Nehlen calls the House Speaker’s “embrace of massive spending, lopsided trade agreements and troubling immigration policies.”

Ryan perhaps best demonstrated that betrayal with his leadership role in enacting last year’s budget-busting “omnibus” federal spending bill. Not only did the Ryan budget explode the federal debt immediately by 130 billion dollars according to the Congressional Research Service, it also funded every single spending priority that Barack Obama needed to fulfill his campaign promise of “fundamentally transforming” America.

Ryan also endeared himself to GOP elites when he told radio talk show host David Webb in 2014 that “some of the best Americans are the newest Americans.” Ryan went on to suggest that it is the duty of the Republican Party to bring in more immigrants and then win them over to his brand of big-government “conservatism.” That explains why Ryan’s omnibus budget funds more visas for migrants from Muslim countries in 2016 than there are Ryan voters in his entire district even though, according to the Pew Research Center, only 11% of American Muslims are Republican or lean Republican.

In seeking to topple the Speaker of the House, Paul Nehlen certainly has his work cut out. As befits a GOP establishment darling, Speaker Ryan has more than $5 million in his campaign war chest. And there’s plenty more where that came from in case he needs it. Big money like that is meant to intimidate challengers, but Paul Nehlen isn’t afraid. Indeed, with his long record of carrying water for the Republican establishment, maybe Speaker Ryan should be the one running scared. When Republican voters in Virginia’s 7th district defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor two years ago, GOP elites never saw it coming. Right now they are distracted by the push to make Ryan the “consensus” Republican presidential nominee at what they hope will be a deadlocked GOP convention in July. Republican insiders are taking for granted Ryan’s reelection to his House seat. But if Paul Nehlen manages to blindside official Washington like Dave Brat did, GOP power brokers on August 9 – primary election day in Wisconsin – may very well be reaching for the smelling salts.