Michael Ryan is like a lot of us. He doesn’t think the health care system works very well, and as a self-employed dentist, he should know. He has problems with the Affordable Care Act. He thinks it needs to be a lot simpler and have better cost controls.
But he isn’t happy with the Republican failure to come up with any alternative, either. What makes Ryan different, however, is that he is a Republican, and is running for the state Legislature. You’ve probably never heard of him, but don’t feel bad.
Many people in his district haven’t, either. And here’s why I admire this man: Ryan, who has a wife and four kids, married relatively late in life, and is not wealthy.
He’s put his heart, soul and about $4,000 into this race. He’s talking about the issues, going door to door. But what’s most remarkable is that he knows he has little chance to win. He’s the Republican nominee in the 27th District.
That’s a collection of Detroit suburbs that are heavily Democratic – the Jewish and black city of Oak Park; liberal Ferndale and Huntington Woods; blue-collar Berkley and Hazel Park.
Two years ago, the last GOP nominee here lost almost four to one. There’s no incumbent this year, but the Democratic nominee, Robert Wittenberg, is seen as an automatic winner. But Mike Ryan thinks the people deserve a choice.
He’s anything but rigid, ideological and doctrinaire. Even his campaign literature admits he doesn’t always vote Republican. “Being exposed to my wife’s even more independent voting patterns forces me to think about how public laws affect ordinary people.”
When it comes to health care, what he would like to do is have Michigan come up with its own system. He would fund it partly by raising the sales tax. But he is open to suggestions. “That’s how you get somewhere, you know?” he told me.