POLITICS: Campaigns

Rob Zerban makes his challenge to Paul Ryan official

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Politics,Associated Press,Paul Ryan,Wisconsin,2014 Elections,Campaigns

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Rob Zerban, the Democrat who lost to U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan in last year's election, is mounting a second challenge next year.

Zerban told The Associated Press this week he would be getting back in the race. He made his announcement official Saturday at a rally in Kenosha.

Zerban lost last year's election 55 percent to 43 percent, but the 12-percentage-point margin of victory was the narrowest of Ryan's eight election wins.

The 45-year-old Zerban is a former Kenosha County Board supervisor who used to run two small businesses. He blames the House Budget Chairman for voting against ending the government shutdown, and for advancing a budget that cuts money from social-service programs.

Zerban said he supports green technology, immigration reform and same-sex marriage. He said he also wants to make college more affordable and he wanted to help American businesses grow.

"Now more than ever we need this vision for our country," he said in a statement.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin released a statement in advance of Zerban's announcement saying the challenger has made repeated attempts to distort Ryan's record.

"It's clear that Rob Zerban's priorities are not with the voters of his district, but are rather with special interests and their failed attacks against a true reformer," party secretary Jesse Dougherty said.

Zerban was Ryan's only Democratic challenger last year, but he could face a primary this year. Amar Kaleka, who became active in politics after his father and five others were gunned down at their Sikh temple last year, told AP he also plans to run against Ryan as a Democrat.

Kaleka called Zerban a "great local leader" and said he welcomed meeting Zerban in a primary.

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