An infamous Madison pro-union protester is attempting to run for Congress as a Republican against Rep. Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. In order to get on the ballot, he must first get the state’s Government Accountability Board to accept at least 1,000 valid signatures on his ballot access petitions. To get enough signatures, the creative candidate advertised that he was circulating a petition to legalize marijuana.
Jeremy Ryan, better known as “Segway Jeremy” or “Segway Boy,” is a regular feature of the protest movement in Madison. During and since the 2011 protests, Ryan has managed to get himself arrested and hauled out of legislative hearings, sessions and events in and around the state Capitol. His singular mode of transportation, a Segway, gave rise to his nickname.
Now, Ryan wants to challenge Congressman Paul Ryan in a GOP primary. Perhaps hoping to play off confusion about last names, the protesting Ryan has hurried to gather enough signatures to appear on the August primary ballot as a Republican.
Reports have emerged that Ryan – the protester, not the Congressman – traveled to Kenosha and Racine with a sign reading “Sign Here Legalize Marijuana” to get people to sign his nominating papers.
A former Democratic state Assembly candidate, Larry Zamba, wrote on Facebook that Ryan was running as a Democrat (he’s actually running as a Republican despite his anti-Walker views), and that people who signed his petition didn’t know it had something to do with his candidacy.
Ryan “is gathering signatures in the most duplicitous of ways,” Zamba wrote.
The website RacineCountyEye.com said that Ryan was working with Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Mary Jo Walters to get signatures for both a marijuana petition and nominating petition. “They were there to collect signatures from supporters for legalizing marijuana as well as to gather the required number of signatures to get their names on the ballot for the August primaries,” a blogger wrote.
But Ryan supporters said that the young candidate’s nominating petition doubled as both a legalize weed effort and a get-on-the-ballot effort. Debbie Magnuson wrote on Facebook, “One of the platforms [Ryan] is working for is the legalization of marijuana. Many medical uses of this plant are so helpful for many, and it needs to be available. WHETHER YOU ARE 420 FRIENDLY OR NOT, COME SIGN! This is what we are gathering signatures for. It is also to allow Jeremy’s name on the ballot.”
Conservative activist Tamra Varebrook on Thursday filed a complaint with the state Government Accountability Board asking them to investigate Ryan and his suspected conflation of a legalize weed petition with his ballot access petition.
Varebrook’s complaint to the GAB focused on the fact that all ballot access petitions include a state statute-based declaration that, “I know that each person signed the paper with full knowledge of its content on the date indicated opposite his or her name.”
If signers thought they were signing a legalize marijuana petition and not a nomination petition, that could violate state law.
The GAB initially signaled that it was unsure it would consider Varebrook’s complaint, saying she would have to challenge individual signatures. But eventually they said they would consider the matter. Whether or not they will actually act on the information they received remains to be seen.