On Sunday, University of Wisconsin Regent Bryan Steil kicked off his campaign for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s seat and was declared the “likely frontrunner” of the race.
Steil, an attorney and former driver for Ryan, comes from a Janesville family with political experience. Fellow Republican candidate Nick Polce has no political experience, and he doesn't plan to accrue much: he said Sunday he won't become a career politician.
Polce, a businessman and former Army Green Beret, launched his campaign against Ryan last November. He appeared on the political talk show “UpFront with Mike Gousha” Sunday, filmed prior to Steil's announcment. A Trump supporter who attributes part of his candidacy to the birth of his son, Polce is positioning himself as an outsider.
After his son was born in November 2016, Polce said, “my wife and I started looking at the future much differently. We didn’t like the direction the country was going.” That helped motivate him to run for office.
“The second part of it was my experience both overseas and as a business owner, (I) really felt the effects of the regulation and government overreach, and I wanted to take that experience and get involved,” he said.
He knew from the beginning there was “no way we were going to be able to compete against Mr. Ryan and his money,” he said, which left him with grassroots approaches like going door to door.
Polce isn’t a Wisconsin native — he was raised in Connecticut and speaks with a noticeable east coast accent — but says he shares values with Wisconsinites, like “respect for God, respect for family” and “small community, taking care of each other, not looking to the federal government to solve all our questions.”
He said he has listened to the worries of residents around the state, and shares their concerns. In Racine, he heard concerns about Foxconn, he said. In Mount Pleasant, residents were worried about eminent domain, and Kenosha business owners voiced concerns about health care and health insurance.
Much like Ryan, the politician he’s looking to replace, one of Polce’s major concerns is government spending. He spoke against the $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress and said overspending “saddles our kids and our grandkids and it makes us poor.”
“It’s a national security issue as well, because when foreign entities hold that much debt, they hold a certain amount of control over us, can prevent us from taking any type of action to protect this country,” he said.
In the military, he learned about that leadership is putting the interest of others first, he said, a type of leadership currently missing from Congress.
“People are fed up, they’re absolutely fed up … I think that’s why the’re gravitating towards outsiders with experience,” he said.
Polce doesn’t believe in career Washington politicians, saying they forget where they came from and “start making decisions based off our own self-interest instead of the interest of the people we’re supposed to serve.”
He said he will work as a politician for a few years before returning to the private sector and will help “create the next generation of leaders to take my place.”