Enter Rob Zerban. A former small business owner, he first considered running for the 1st District seat in 2010, and even had a very early conversation with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
But Zerban, who had just sold his catering company and was becoming more active in local politics through his position on the Kenosha County Board, decided the timing wasn’t right—proof of his good political instincts.
Zerban and his wife Cornelia, a public school teacher, were among the tens of thousands protesting in Madison. This time, when state party chairman Mike Tate called to ask him to run, his answer was different.
Zerban says he’d made up his mind to challenge Ryan before the Republican’s budget was passed by the House. But he filed candidacy papers with the Federal Election Commission just days afterwards. One of his first actions: The launch of the website, HandsOffMyGrandma.com, encouraging people to sign a petition opposing Ryan’s plan. “People were instantly opposed to [Ryan’s] plan,” said Zerban. “We had a huge response, and it was big success for campaign.”
His once-underdog challenge has gained new steam thanks to the one-two punch of both growing unrest in his home state and the debate over the Ryan’s plan to transition Medicare into a voucher system for those under 55, Zerban said.