Randy Bryce is the Candidate Latinos Have Been Waiting For

This past weekend, I attended Politicon, an annual convention for political nerds, like myself. I was there on behalf of my comedy show “The Latino Vote.” I also met two of my favorite media personalities Joy Reid and Ana Navarro. (Where were you, Mika Brzezinski?!) But the highlight of my weekend was meeting Democratic Congressional candidate Randy Bryce — who is running to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan. And his mustache.

Iron worker Randy Bryce

I first became familiar with Randy Bryce aka “Iron Stache” and his candidacy a month-and-a-half ago when I saw his campaign video online.

It’s incredibly moving. And unsurprisingly the video went viral.

Paul Ryan pumps iron

Randy Bryce is such a stark contrast to Paul Ryan — who represents the Washington establishment aka “The Swamp.”

Even worse, Paul Ryan represents The Swamp that is afraid of Trump. Afraid to speak out when ethical violations occur in the White House. Afraid of expressing new ideas when bills are unpopular with the majority of Americans.

Randy Bryce doesn’t look like he’s afraid of anything. In fact, Randy Bryce looks like he could eat Paul Ryan for breakfast.

Since watching the campaign video in June, I haven’t thought much about Randy Bryce or his campaign. Until this weekend.

While at Politicon, I attended a panel entitled, “The Power Vote: Latinos’ Crucial Role in the 2018 and 2020 Elections.” (See picture below) From left to right, the panel included: President of the Latino Victory Fund Cristóbal Alex, Democratic Congressman Joaquín Castro, comedian Al Madrigal, actress America Ferrera, author Julissa Arce, and Randy Bryce.

Wait. Randy Bryce?

Yup. That’s him on the right.

I thought, why is Randy Bryce on a panel about the Latino Vote? Shouldn’t he be in Wisconsin?

Then, I learned: Randy Bryce is Latino — half-Mexican and half-Polish.

Then, I thought: why isn’t he telling more people?

Oh, he just did.

I imagine there aren’t many Latinos in his Wisconsin Congressional district, so that part about his ethnicity was left out of his campaign video. But to those of us outside his district, his Mexican heritage is incredibly important. And it explains the mustache.

Congressional leaders like Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi don’t simply represent their constituents, the bills they prioritize and the legislation they sponsor, affects all Americans.

And now, for the first time, we have a viable Latino candidate who is about to ascend the national stage.

Randy Bryce reminds me of Barack Obama — a half-black, half white candidate from the Midwest, who was elected to Congress, and in less than three years became the nation’s first black president. Obama didn’t even finish his Senate term.

Latinos have their candidate in Randy Bryce. Hearing him speak, he sounds like a leader. And a fighter. The Latino community needs both.

Far more important than his ethnicity, Randy Bryce is also a U.S. Army veteran, a cancer survivor, and a union ironworker. His ethnic background is just the icing on the cake.

I’m still dumbfounded that Hillary Clinton did not pick a Latino (or other ethnic minority) as her Vice Presidential candidate. Then-Congressman Xavier Becerra was an obvious choice.

But rather than question past mistakes, I can only offer a solution to DNC Chairman Tom Perez (who was also passed on by the Clintons for VP): run and support more Latinos for office. Throw your weight and money at Randy Bryce and other Latino candidates for 2018.

It’s a win-win. Latinos (the largest growing demographic in the United States) will be drawn to the Party and Latino voter turnout will increase. This is exactly what happened with Barack Obama. In 2012, blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority group.

Who won Harry Reid’s seat? Half-Mexican and half-Italian Catherine Cortez Masto — the first Latina to serve in U.S. Senate.

But when voters aren’t excited, they stay home. They don’t volunteer. And they don’t give money.

Seeing someone on the ballot that shares your background gets people excited. Whether you are black like Barack Obama. A female like Hillary Clinton. Or a white Birther like Donald Trump.

I am excited about Randy Bryce. And you should be, too.

Writer and comedian Ernie Bustamante (@TheLatinoVote) and Congressional candidate Randy Bryce