Randy Bryce, the Democratic candidate in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, defended his arrest record by comparing himself to civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Bryce’s remarks were made after the Republican, Bryan Steil, chided Bryce over the nine times he has been arrested, including for drunk driving, missing court dates, and driving without a license.

“I just find it a bit ironic how much you harp on the word attorney,” Steil said. “I can think of at least nine times where a law degree would have come in really handy.”

At this point Mary Spicuzza of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked Bryce if he wanted to respond.

“Well, yeah, being an attorney, you’d think that one would be able to determine arrests vs. convictions,” Bryce said. “Those numbers are two completely different. And also, during the fact that my recent arrests have been for standing up for Amerif… for people that, whether it was Dreamers or standing, having a peaceful sit-in in, in Ron Johnson’s, um, just outside of his office asking him what he’s going to do to provide American jobs after he voted against Obama’s jobs act.”

Then Bryce made the Lewis comparison.

“So yeah, I’ll continue to stand up,” Bryce said. “Um, John Lewis. I don’t hear him getting a lot of grief for standing up for people. You know, and if the opportunity comes up, to stand up, for peaceful protest, you betcha back side I’m going to be right there.”

In 2011 and 2018, Bryce was arrested for protesting as he claims. However, as CNN first reported, Bryce was arrested on seven other occasions for offenses unrelated to protesting. In April 1998 he was arrested for drunk driving in Michigan. After initially pleading guilty, he missed a subsequent hearing and a warrant was put out for his arrest. He later appeared and served one day of a sentence of 65 days in jail with the rest of the sentence being suspended. He was also fined.

After his trouble in Michigan, Bryce was arrested three times for driving with a suspended license in Wisconsin. After one of those arrests, Bryce failed to make a court appearance in South Milwaukee and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He served one day in jail for that arrest and plead guilty each times.

In addition, Bryce was arrested in 1991 for “marijuana possession, property damage, trespassing and theft, though the theft and trespassing charges were dropped,” according to CNN.


Lewis is best known for his work as a civil rights leader in the 1960s protesting racial segregation in the South under the Jim Crow laws. He helped organize the March on Washington in 1963, was one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, led civil rights marches in the South, was violently attacked by southern segregationists and was arrested approximately 40 times in non-violent protests.