Is Pocan Making Up Fund Raiser Cancellation with SOTU Invite?

It’s customary for members of Congress to invite constituents to the annual State of the Union Address. But this year, Congressman Mark Pocan (D-Madison) appears to have found none of his constituents deserving of that honor.

Instead, the Madison liberal will be trying to troll Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) by inviting Randy Bryce, one of Ryan’s Democratic challengers, to sit in the visitor’s gallery. The Hill has the original story.

Randy Bryce, a Democrat challenging Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for his House seat this year, will attend President Trump‘s State of the Union next week as the guest of another member of the Wisconsin congressional delegation.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D) will bring Bryce as his guest to Trump’s address, a spokesman confirmed Thursday.

Ryan will have a prominent role in Trump’s speech on Tuesday, given that it is customary for the Speaker of the House and the vice president to be seated behind the president during joint addresses to Congress.

It’s not unusual for lawmakers to endorse candidates challenging members of their state delegation who are from the opposite party. But it’s a more aggressive move to invite them as guests to a State of the Union address.

A spokesman for Pocan’s office tells The Hill that the lawmaker did not specifically notify Ryan of the invite beforehand, but noted that Bryce’s information was submitted through the Sergeant at Arms’s office as in years past for State of the Union guests.

Trolling his political opponents has been one of Pocan’s specialties going back to his days in the Wisconsin state legislature. Since going to Congress, he’s used them to build up his profile among the Democratic Party’s rabid liberal base with stunts such as “Magic Mondays” (where he performs magic tricks akin to a street magician) and his various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

While it’s possible that the Pocan invite for Bryce was in the works for some time, it’s hard to not notice that it’s timing coincides with the just as sudden cancellation of a Pocan fundraiser for Bryce scheduled for later in the week. Prior to a Media Trackers inquiry, Pocan was scheduled to hold a fund raiser for Bryce at Madison’s Majestic Theater with former comedian Chelsea Handler.

Handler, no stranger to social media outbursts, found herself in trouble earlier this month after releasing a homophobic tweet against South Carolina Republican U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham. While never publicly stated, it’s hard not to see Pocan or his campaign hurriedly deciding to cancel the event on fears of being called a hypocrite as an openly-gay member of Congress who shared the stage with a celebrity under the cloud of homophobia scandal.

Is the State of the Union invite Pocan’s way of making it up to Randy Bryce for cancelling the Madison fundraiser? Maybe or maybe not, but don’t be too surprised to discover there’s a fund raiser planned to coincide with the SOTU. With Bryce already nationalizing his campaign,  where else is he going to get his campaign cash?