When House Speaker Paul Ryan announced his plans to retire from Congress at the end of his current term, the open seat created an opportunity for both Republicans and Democrats. A number of local politicians are considering possible runs in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. Here’s a list of who’s in and who’s out.


They’re In:

As RightWisconsin first reported when Ryan announced his retirement, University of Wisconsin Board of Regents member Bryan Steil was seriously considering a run. Now Steil is in. Steil once worked for Ryan. Lobbyist Brandon Scholz told CNBC that Steil has been considering a run since Ryan ran for Vice President. Steil currently is the general counsel and secretary at Charter NEX Films Inc.

None of the following candidates are likely to win the GOP nomination:

Paul Nehlen: Nehlen challenged Ryan two years ago in the GOP primary and ran a race-baiting campaign then that attracted national support from Breitbart.com, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, but few votes. This year his anti-Semitic rants got him banned from Twitter. The Republican Party has completely disavowed Nehlen’s candidacy.

Nick Polce: Polce is a former Army Green Beret and local businessman who has received little attention so far in his attempt to challenge Ryan in the GOP primary. He moved to the district to run and is backed by a small fringe of the GOP that also backed Nehlen for Congress in 2016.

Kenosha County Supervisor Jeff Wamboldt announced earlier this week, according to the Kenosha News. Wamboldt is a police officer and a former candidate for president on the self-created “We, the People” party in 2008. He received 765 votes.

If there is an election, Spencer Zimmerman is running.

Possibly in:

Former Racine County Executive and former state Rep. Jim Ladwig is considering running, according to WisPolitics.


State Sen. Dave Craig (R-Town of Vernon) is not running for Congress. He issued the following statement on Facebook on Friday:

From the bottom of our whole family’s hearts, we want to thank everyone for the outpouring of prayers, support, and encouragement over the last few days. While there is no question we need a strong conservative in Washington, the Lord has different plans for Amy and I and for the little hearts he has entrusted to us. I look forward to continuing advocating for constitutional principles in the State Senate, and we look forward to speaking to all of you soon. God Bless, Dave and Amy Craig

Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) is running for re-election in the Assembly.

State Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem): Kerkman is out, saying she is running for re-election to the Assembly. “I have two kids, ages 10 and 12, and after talking with them about mom getting pulled away, (we decided) for their time, this is what I’m best suited for,” Kerkman told the Kenosha News.

State Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) is also not running.

State Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) told Fox 6’s Theo Keith that he’s not running.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told WISN’s Jay Weber on Thursday he is out.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) told WISN’s Jay Weber on Friday he is out.

Michelle Litjens Vos, a former member of the Assembly who represented part of the Fox Valley, said on Facebook she is not running, saying it’s not her time.

State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) announced he is not running the same day of Ryan’s announcement.



Randy Bryce: Bryce is a three-time election loser and a deadbeat dad who bought Twitter followers instead of paying his child support. He has little understanding of public policy but has embraced the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, including Sanders’ $32 trillion government-run health care plan. Nonetheless, Bryce received the financial support of some Hollywood liberals after his campaign video went “viral.” It’s unknown whether that support will continue now that Ryan is no longer running.

Cathy Myers: Myers, a teacher and a school board member, is the also-ran in the Democratic Primary so far.

State Rep. Peter Barca is also seriously considering a run, telling the Kenosha News, “This is a vital seat, and it’s going to have to be about who has the best chance of winning.” Barca served in the House of Representatives from May 1993 to January 1995 after winning a special election to replace Congressman Les Aspin.