BOISE - A Brooklyn, N.Y. attorney who’s never been to Idaho is not only running again for a U.S. Senate seat from the state, after doing the same four years ago – he’s also running for Senate seats in Alaska and Oregon this year.
“I’m just making myself available to the people of more than one state,” said William Bryk. “The voters have not yet taken advantage of the opportunity to retain my services, but one lives in hope.”
Bryk, 59, is one of two Democrats facing off for the chance to challenge Idaho GOP Sen. Jim Risch; the other, Nels Mitchell, is an Idaho attorney who announced early and is running a spirited campaign targeting one of Idaho’s longest-serving GOP politicians.
Bryk said he was watching closely from afar, and though Mitchell had announced he’d run, he still hadn’t filed midway into Idaho’s two-week candidate filing period in March. He recalled when, in 2004, Idaho GOP Sen. Mike Crapo went unopposed. “One of the justifications the Iowa state Democratic chairman had put out for failure to put up a candidate in ’04 was, ‘We had a candidate but he decided not to run at the last minute,’” Bryk said, mixing up his “I” states without noting his error. “I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Then the fellow showed up and filed, but it will do him no harm to have a primary.”
Mitchell filed for the office on March 10, four days before the end of the filing period.
The U.S. Constitution just requires a candidate to be a resident of the state they’re seeking to represent in the House or Senate as of Election Day, which this year is Nov. 4. Bryk, who says the closest he’s ever been to Idaho is Buffalo, N.Y., says if he wins Idaho’s Democratic primary, he’ll move west, and bring his wife, books, computers and cats with him. “She’s up for it,” he said.
So what if he were to win in more than one of the three states? “To be candid, I do not believe that will happen,” Bryk said. “If it did happen, I would probably have to sit down with the party leadership in the two states and make some fast calculations and pick whichever state … I would most likely be able to be of service to.”
Bryk said he believes in contested elections and thinks he’d make a good senator, from any state. He’s run for office numerous times before, but has never been elected.
The first time he ran was his most serious bid, a 1980 race for a House seat in New York against fellow Democrat Mark Green. “Mark, I can say, beat me like a mule,” Bryk said. “He won the primary and was overwhelmingly defeated by a very popular Republican incumbent named Bill Green.”
Bryk is also among two Democratic challengers to first-term Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley this year, and also is running in the Democratic primary against first-term Alaska Sen. Mark Begich.
He tried to run for an Indiana House seat this year as well, but was knocked off the ballot under a challenge related to a new party-identification law that state had passed since he last ran there two years ago.
Bryk also ran for a Wyoming Senate seat in 2012, and has run over the years for offices ranging from district attorney and city council to vice president.
He doesn’t campaign, beyond taking calls and filling out interest groups’ surveys, and raises no campaign funds. “I am my own man,” he said. “I have not been running around with my hat out for contributions – I don’t know necessarily that anyone would give them to me.”
Jim Weatherby, Boise State University professor emeritus and longtime Idaho political observer, said, “Perhaps if he continues this strategy, he will get his name as a footnote in some political almanac.” But it’s unlikely to result in a win, he said.
When Bryk ran in the Democratic primary for a chance to challenge Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo in 2010, he got 25.3 percent of the vote to Idaho businessman Tom Sullivan’s 74.7 percent. Crapo then beat Sullivan by nearly the same margin.