With Lyin’ Ryan Gone, Race Opens For Randy Bryce, The ‘Iron Stache’

Randy ‘Iron Stache’ Bryce: A Democrat who stands for workers & their families.


By Tim Murphy
Mother Jones (December 2017)

Randy Bryce was looking for another hit. On a weekday afternoon in August, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Wisconsin’s 1st District sat at his kitchen table, staring into the camera lens of his laptop. Bryce is a union ironworker when he is not running for office, and he was surrounded by traces of his craft. Four pairs of heavy high-topped work boots were scattered across the cluttered apartment he shares with his 11-year-old son on the second floor of a multifamily house. A weight machine took up most of the living room. The stairway smelled of cigarettes.

In four days, Bryce’s Republican opponent, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, would return to the district for a nationally televised forum on CNN. Ryan had gone more than 650 days without holding a town hall, and attendance at this one, like his other events, would be strictly vetted. Unable to score an invite, Bryce and his campaign team had decided to buy local airtime during the broadcast and run a series of ads. If Bryce couldn’t ask one question at the town hall, he’d pay $580 to ask three, pre-recorded with a dusty air-conditioning unit in the background.

Bryce looked into the camera lens and said, “Paul Ryan! Welcome to Wisconsin.”

Bryce’s candidacy has spoken to Democrats in deeper ways, because he is running at a moment when they are asking aloud who and what the party stands for. 

Skyping in, their Brooklyn-based ad maker, Matt McLaughlin, feigned exasperation. “Listen, guys, stop asking for viral videos. I don’t want them!”

The 52-year-old Bryce is built like a lineman, with soft brown eyes and a flattop that flares up in the front like uncut grass. He grew a handlebar mustache for kicks years ago, and the bushy black ellipse is now so popular he could not get rid of it even if he wanted to. It has taken on almost Samson-like qualities among his growing base of supporters. If it weren’t for the Iron Stache, you might have never heard of Randy Bryce.

Greatest campaign launch he’d ever seen

But plenty of people have heard of him now. After seven years as a union activist, Bryce exploded onto the national political scene in June with a viral announcement video one congressman called the greatest campaign launch he’d ever seen. …

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