Paul Ryan and SOPA: Reddit Boosts Opponent Rob Zerban for 2012 Race

on December 29 2011 9:24 AM

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan has become the target of Redditors over his support of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), after his opponent Rob Zerban took anywhere from five to 10 minutes to respond to an email question regarding his stance on the bill, declaring he would not support the legislation.

In a Reddit thread titled Alternate Target: Paul Ryan, users explore the political viability of Zerban's candidacy in purely theoretical terms, as the online community continues a backlash against SOPA and all of its supporters. As of writing, it seems Redditors have coalesced around Zerban and think an uphill battle against a prominent Republican is worth fighting.

Kevin Seifert, a spokesman for Ryan, said the Congressman is not a co-sponsor of SOPA.

He remains committed advancing policies which protect free speech and foster innovation online and will continue to follow the House Judiciary Committee's deliberations on this issue carefully, Seifert said.

Zerban declared he was running against Ryan earlier in the month, and endeared himself to Redditors when responding -- rather promptly -- to a question about his stance on SOPA.

I am not a fan of this bill, he wrote. The internet is one of the greatest examples of our nation's free speech in action and efforts to continually privatize and censor people are unhelpful. I would not vote for it.

The brevity and quickness of Zerban's response earned him plaudits from Reddit users.

That dude (or his staffer) just played this perfectly, said user WildTango. The absolute correct answer was given.

Zerban went so far as to hold a session with Reddit users, answering their questions late into a night.

The growing anti-Ryan sentiment led to the creation of pullryan.com, which currently links back to the Reddit discussion. The net-started takedown of Ryan, who currently chairs the House's Budget Committee, is gaining some steam, and very adamant support.

The usually still political waters of Wisconsin have become tempestuous, after anti-Union measures passed at the state level, leading to a backlash and numerous protests. Ryan himself was lambasted for introducing his Path to Prosperity, a bill that, among other things, would have transformed Medicare into a voucher program.

Zerban contends the Republican incumbent faces a tough race next year, and cites a recent survey conducted by Democratic pollster Paul Maslin that shows, Rob Zerban is well-positioned to give incumbent Paul Ryan the toughest fight of his career, with a very good chance to upset him. 

Calls to both Ryan and Zerban's campaigns were not returned as of writing (though stay tuned for broader coverage of SOPA in 2012).

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