In Rhode Island, Meet the Republican House Candidate Who Can’t Back the Ryan Plan

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – On paper, there’s no reason why Brendan Doherty should be winning a race for Congress. He has a great bio, starting with his years as superintendant of the state police. But he’s running in a district drawn to elect a Democrat – according to the Cook Political Report, it’s 15 points more Democratic than the nation as a whole.

Get this, though: Doherty is leading in polls, thanks to the weak approval numbers of incumbent Democratic Rep. David Ciccilline. (I’ll get into all the reasons in a forthcoming piece.) If the election turns into a referendum on the Democra, Doherty can win. And there’s the problem. I met up with Doherty today as he was readying to shoot a campaign commercial, and asked him what he thought of Mitt Romney tapping Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate. Without much prompting, Doherty looked for breathing room.

“He has some great ideas in there,” said Doherty. “I don’t espouse the same ideas that he has with Medicare, as far as privatizing or vouchers. But he has some great ideas, and I support them.”

What did he support? I suggested that both Obama’s Medicare plan (current law) and Ryan’s plan (passed by the House, twice), capped Medicare spending, but that Ryan’s did this by turning Medicare into a premium support plan and forcing providers to compete.

“Competition is good,” said Doherty, “but I think that Medicare is confusing enough for our seniors. There are a lot of seniors in this first district, and they rely on Social Security and Medicare. My mom’s 85 years old. She relies on Social Security and Medicare. We don’t need to confuse it more.”