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Former Ryan Staffer Bryan Steil To Run for Former Boss’ Seat

Soothes GOP anxiety about fielding a competitive candidate for retiring House speaker’s seat

Bryan Steil poses for a photo with a supporter after making his announcement on Sunday. (Bryan Steil for Wisconsin via Facebook)
Bryan Steil poses for a photo with a supporter after making his announcement on Sunday. (Bryan Steil for Wisconsin via Facebook)

A former staffer to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced he would run for his former boss’ seat in Wisconsin’s 1st District.

Bryan Steil, who serves as a regent for the University of Wisconsin, said he would run as a “problem solver,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“The chattering class in Washington gets paid to identify problems. For the past nine years, in manufacturing, I got paid to solve problems,” he said.

Steil is the general counsel to Charter NEX Films, a manufacturer in Milton, and was appointed to the board of regents by Gov. Scott Walker.

“Two and a half years ago, Paul Ryan made us all proud by taking the gavel becoming speaker of the House,” Steil said. “Next year, Paul will hand the gavel to someone new. We cannot let Nancy Pelosi take it back.”

Despite Steil touting himself as a Washington outsider, his father was appointed as the first chairman of the Wisconsin Lottery Board by former Gov. Tommy Thompson and also served as a regent for the University of Wisconsin.

Steil’s announcement provides relief for Republicans who were scrambling to find a suitable replacement for Ryan.

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos declined to run, as did his wife, former state Rep. Michelle Litjens.

Former Republican National Committee Chairman and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus also passed on running as well as state Rep. Samantha Kerman.

A spokeswoman for Randy Bryce, the Democrat frontrunner in the race, hit Steil for his political ties.

“It’s hard to think of anyone less in touch with the struggles facing working families than a third-generation corporate attorney from a politically connected family,” said Lauren Hitt.

Republicans hoped to find a more competitive candidate given the other options were newcomer Army veteran Nick Polce and Paul Nehlen, who openly espoused white nationalist and antisemitic sentiments.

Democratic candidate Cathy Myers said, “Honestly, I am just relieved that an anti-Semite white supremacist is no longer the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, but I am encouraged by Bryan Steil’s willingness to have a real conversation about the issues.” 

But Myers still criticized Steil as part of  “Scott Walker’s handpicked Board of Regents is dismantling the UW System.”


Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Wisconsin’s 1st District Leans Republican.