In a conference call with reporters after delivering the petitions,
Zerban said he raised $16,000 this weekend along from 1,400 small
donors. Zerban said he was undaunted by Ryan's cash advantage, and
pointed to Democrat Kathy Hochul's upset victory in last month's
special election in New York as evidence that being outspent by the GOP
opponent didn't necessarily matter.
"I think we will have the resources necessary to be able to
get our message out," said Zerban, who wouldn't specify how much of his
own money he'd be willing to put in. "We'll make sure we have the
resources that are necessary to compete and get our message out. We'll
reevaluate it as needed."
Zerban, who is a Kenosha County Supervisor and a former catering company owner, is underscoring his small business credentials and going directly after Ryan as he seeks to unseat the seventh-term congressman
and chairman of the House Budget Committee.
The 1st District went for President Obama in 2008. He carried 51 percent of the vote while Sen. John McCain received 47 percent. But Ryan outperformed the president in his home
district in 2008, winning 64 percent of the vote. And Ryan hasn't won
with less than 63 percent of the vote since his first election in 1998
-- an illustration of the tall task Democrats face in unseating the
Republican, despite the district's swing tendencies in national
Still, Democrats are bullish about Zerban's chances in the wake of
Ryan's budget proposal that revamps Medicare. The proposal became a
major part of the campaign in New York's 26th District special election
earlier this year, Hochul and her allies hitting her GOP opponent Jane Corwin for supporting the plan.
In many races, Republicans have passed on chances to take yes/no
positions on the Ryan plan, instead pivoting to arguments that they
would formulate their own plan, or offering praise of portions of
Ryan's proposal. One major difficulty Republicans face is explaining the
complex measure to voters.
Former Rep.Tom Davis (R-Va.) speaking at a roundtable discussion
with reporters last month put it this way: "One Member -- who will
remain unknown -- in the conference, says, well Paul, I agree with this;
can I take you with me to my district to explain it? Because you
understand it and can explain it, but this is not easy stuff."
Running against a message may have presented an opportunity for Zerban,
but running against the messenger himself may be his biggest challenge.
"The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed last week
that Medicare's trust fund will be exhausted in 2020 and experts have
stated that the only thing that ends Medicare is the status quo," Ryan's
campaign said in a statement.
"The House passed-budget, the Path to Prosperity, saves Medicare from
bankruptcy securing and strengthening it for current and future
generations. It has been 790 days since the Senate passed a budget and
the President has offered speeches rather than serious proposals at a
time when we need real solutions, not false rhetoric. Residents of the
First Congressional District deserve answers on how we can meet our
nation's most pressing economic challenges and Congressman Ryan will
continue to provide that leadership in the House of Representatives."
For more on Zerban, check out Jessica Taylor's recent profile of the Democratic hopeful.--Jessica Taylor contributed to this post
Image: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque