Democratic congressional candidate Randy Bryce, who is seeking to clear the primary to take on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) in 2018, drew criticism from a fellow Democratic candidate on Tuesday for having only recently paid off delinquent child support payments.
Bryce was behind on his payments by two and half months, totaling $1,257, drawing criticism from his primary opponent, single mother Cathy Myers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
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Myers has raised two of her children as a single mother, and recalled having to get a second job after her ex-husband got behind on his child support.
"When my ex-husband got behind on his child support, I had to take a second job," Myers said. "I put my personal interests aside and focused all my attention on providing for my family."
Bryce paid off the amount owed from his $471 per month payments two months after launching his congressional campaign.
In addition to Bryce's child support debt, his financial problems go back years. In 1999, he filed for bankruptcy, which resulted in all his unsecured debts at the time being wiped clean. He owes $1,776 on money borrowed from another individual in 2004.
Bryce is receiving support from the Liberal Working Families Party who came to his defense. Joe Dinkin, a spokesman for the party, sent out fundraising emails that downplayed the significance of Bryce's financial situation.
"What’s the dirt they’ve got on him?" Dinkins asked. "That he isn’t rich. No, seriously. That’s it."
Campaign manager David Keith has also gone on the defense, downplaying Bryce's financial missteps.
"Randy is exactly who should be representing WI-01 in Congress, because unlike Ryan, he knows what it's like to struggle and will approach his job from a place of deep understanding as opposed to zero empathy," Keith said.
Bryce, a cancer survivor, defended his ongoing debt and 1999 bankruptcy in a HuffPost column, attributing the problems to "mounting medical bills."
When Bryce filed for bankruptcy, he had $3,928 in assets, $6,545 in liabilities and made just over $20,000 a year, records show.
The bulk of Bryce's debt was attributed to unpaid phone and electric bills. His only outstanding medical bill was for $125, and he owed $950 for counseling.
Despite Bryce's financial record, his campaign has raised $1.4 million and has $1 million cash on hand. Myers, in comparison, has raised $62,000 and has $20,000 cash on hand.
Bryce's campaign gained traction when an ad attacking Ryan on health care went viral.
The ad helped Bryce gain traction among vocal Hollywood liberals, including Chelsea Handler who tweeted a picture in September with the congressional candidate.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) September 21, 2017