Democrat Gruett to challenge Rep. Ribble

CHILTON – The first Democratic challenger has entered the race for the 8th Congressional District.

The new candidate in the race is Ron Gruett, a university professor and member of the Chilton City Council.

Republican Reid Ribble of Sherwood currently represents the district, but he has yet to kick off his re-election campaign.

Gruett is running for Congress to represent what he describes as the middle class.

“The middle class is really falling behind,” said Gruett.

FOX 11 asked Gruett what he would do to help that group.

“Well, to help the middle class, first of all, I’d make sure that the Affordable Care Act isn’t repealed like Reid Ribble wants to do,” said Gruett.

Representative Ribble has served two terms in DC.

He was not available for an interview Friday. Part of a statement from the congressman says he has “a record of fighting for job creation” and “for a smaller, more efficient and effective government.”

He also says he “remains focused on continuing that important work in the months ahead.” Ribble makes no mention of his new challenger.

Gruett has served on the Chilton City Council since 2003. He ran for the state Assembly in 2012, but was defeated in a Democratic primary.

Gruett is a part-time science professor at Marian University in Fond du Lac.

A FOX 11 Fact Check found he’s raised no money yet for his campaign. As of last month, Ribble had nearly one million dollars in the bank.

As the race begins, Gruett plans to work closely with county parties.

“I consider it not a long shot, but it’s an uphill battle. It’s very difficult to beat an incumbent. But, if people are going to vote on the message, most of us are middle class,” said Gruett.

UW-Green Bay Political Science Professor David Helpap expects Ribble will also focus his campaign on the ‘middle class.’ He agrees Gruett has a challenge ahead.

“It will be a battle, that’s for sure, for him to get out there. The best thing he can do is get his name out as much as possible and meet as many people as possible,” said Helpap.

The 8th district covers parts of eleven counties in Northeast Wisconsin.

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