WI GOP Legislator Uses Paul Ryan To Raise Money, Steps In Medicare Trap

June 9, 2011 1:23 p.m.

State legislators aren’t able to vote either way on the Medicare-ending House Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Nevertheless, Democrats, labor leaders and progressives trying to recall GOP state Senators in Wisconsin are eager to tie them to Ryan’s budget which, in one prominent case at least, has proven to be political kryptonite for supposedly safe Republicans.

In the case of state Sen. Alberta Darling (R), Democrats may have just found the connection they needed.TPM has learned that Ryan will be attending a fundraiser for Darling tomorrow in Milwaukee. The coordinator for the event told TPM she invited Ryan as a “courtesy,” but the Darling campaign told TPM they expect Ryan to attend.

Darling is among the six Republican Wisconsin state Senators Democrats hope to recall this year, thus flipping control of the state Senate from GOP to Democrat and punishing lawmakers for their support of Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) plan to eliminate collective bargaining rights for thousands of state workers in the name of fiscal austerity.

Ryan has already proven to be an issue in the recall fight. Last month, an invite to a fundraiser for state Sen. Dan Kapanke (R) featuring Ryan sparked controversy and led to an eventual Ryan no-show.

The recalls are partially about vengeance for the Walker budget, which led to one of the more epic political standoffs in recent memory. But with Democrats gearing up for the 2012 fight, some are saying the recalls could teach important lessons about the national race to come.

Progressives made it clear today that Ryan’s appearance at Darling’s fundraiser gives them the chance to stick her with Ryan’s Medicare plan.

“Alberta Darling is part of the same national Republican war on working families that is trying to end Medicare and cut programs like BadgerCare,” said Neil Sroka, a spokesperson for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is spending heavily on the recall fight. He referred to Wisconsin’s a state health care program that builds off Medicaid, which is also in for cuts in the Ryan plan.

“Paul Ryan’s endorsement of her will be an issue in this campaign,” Sroka said.

The PCCC and Democracy for America group plan to run a new round of TV ads in the recall fight soon. The two progressive groups have been running commercials since the beginning of the labor battle with Walker.

Democrats also seemed happy to find the link between Darling and the national party’s Enemy Number One.

“Working families and the middle class clearly come last to all Wisconsin Republicans, regardless of the office they hold,” said Carolyn Fiddler, spokesperson for the DLCC. “The kind of extreme right-wing agenda items supported by both Rep. Ryan and Sen. Darling sparked the recalls in the first place, and Rep. Ryan’s support of the subject of one of those recalls is a fitting reminder of that fact.”

Darling’s campaign office declined to answer questions about her stance on Ryan’s Medicare proposal.

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