Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is about as firmly entrenched in his congressional seat as you’re going see in this lifetime. He’s a favorite of both establishment Republicans and Tea Partiers alike. The old guard likes him because while his budget proposal is extremely shortsighted, it relies on the repeal of Obamacare to make its math work — he usually manages to avoid looking dumb (his debate with Vice-President Joe Biden not withstanding), and he’s only on occasion tripped over his tongue while discussing abortion and rape. He’s their numbers guy, and you have to assume that any election he’s involved in for his entire life will be heavily backed by the Republican National Committee and untold millions of SuperPAC dollars.
None of that matters a lick to Amardeep Kaleka, though. The 35-year-old Wisconsin native filed paperwork this week to explore the possibility of running as a candidate in Ryan’s district, challenging the hard-right’s golden boy in next year’s mid-term election. Kaleka is a filmmaker who came to this country at the age of four from India. He is an Emmy award winner and he embodies the American Dream of coming from humble beginnings and making a better life for yourself. He likely learned that work ethic watching his father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, make his own way in the U.S., founding the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
That temple would be both a point of great pride for his family and the horrific, tragic catalyst for Armadeep’s plunge into politics, should he decide to follow-through and run as a Democrat against Ryan. It was at the Sikh temple that Satwant lost his life in an August mass shooting last yeart. If he does go ahead with is bid for Ryan’s seat, Armadeep has said that gun control — specifically background checks — will most definitely be one of the issues he campaigns on, but that the overall focus of his campaign will be the economy.
“It’s David and Goliath,” Kaleka said of the monumental task ahead of him. According to Kaleka, he plans to make immigration reform and education central issues to his campaign as well because according to him, “All of these topics go hand in hand with the economy, and it’s important to note that social issues we’re fighting for as Democrats can economically benefit the nation, the people, the middle class.”
Whether or not Armadeep dives in and takes up the mantle to challenge Ryan, he sees a future for Democrats in the currently red state of Wisconsin. He pointed to the fact that Tammy Baldwin was elected from his state as the first openly lesbian Senator, and that “Wisconsin is definitely on the cusp of realizing that Democrats are the ones who stick up for the right of the ‘everyman’.” Kaleka hopes that if he’s able to run and successfully beat a monolith of the right like Ryan, that it could become a blueprint for how to challenge Republicans in other states.
“If we can win a campaign like this in the Midwest, the whole nation can change,” he said. This is certainly one story to put a pin in and watch over the next weeks and months. With the GOP’s reputation is in tatters, now might be the time that otherwise “safe” seats could flip, and even Ryan could be vulnerable if his party doesn’t pull up out of the epic tailspin it finds itself in among voters and pundits alike.
Watch Armadeep talking about his father and gun control in the video below.