U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan is making waves with his guest for tonight’s State of the Union Address. He’s bringing Randy Bryce, the fire union worker who’s challenging Speaker Paul Ryan for his Janesville House seat.
Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner accused Pocan of “creating a spectacle” and said that his pick is “disrespectful and out of bounds.”
Pocan is clearly trying to make a statement with his guest choice for President Donald Trump’s address to Congress tonight, and he’s not alone. Many members of the Wisconsin delegation have invited symbolic guests.
Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin also specially picked their Wisconsinites to make a statement but in a more traditional way.
Baldwin is bringing Avery Smith, a heavy equipment operator from Little Suamico, north of Green Bay. She said in a statement she’s hoping President Donald Trump will make good on his promise of improving infrastructure this year and that he’ll focus on hiring American workers.
Johnson’s pick was also symbolic. He’s bringing Lauri Badura who lost her son to a fentanyl overdose.
“The best hope we have of preventing these tragedies is trying to encourage people never to start.” He says that Badura has been a leader in saving others for an organization called SOFA.
Johnson says SOFA and Badura helped him craft legislation that helps prosecutors crack down on fentanyl.
On the House side, Speaker Paul Ryan is bringing another resident of the Badger State who’s suffered from opioid addiction. Kyle Pucek, a recovering heroin addict, is from his home district of Janesville.
Pocan’s pick wasn’t the only one in the Wisconsin delegation to make headlines. Rep. Sean Duffy is bringing an Army veteran who volunteered to take the place of liberal Representative Maxine Waters, who’s boycotting the event.
Here’s Duffy’s guest, Ricky Taylor, describing how he feels about Waters’ decision to skip.
“It’s sacrilegious. I just couldn’t understand why somebody wouldn’t want to go.”
Many Democratic members of Congress around the country are inviting DACA recipients to tonight’s address to highlight their desire to save the program. None of Wisconsin’s delegation, however, will bring a Dreamer tonight.
There’s at least one Wisconsin Representative who isn’t using their extra ticket to make news. Representative Glenn Grothman is bringing his brother-in-law, a software manager at Trek Bicycles.
Trump’s first state of the union is tonight at 8 pm.
Nina Kravinsky covered the story.