U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan speaks outside the Madison City-County building during a National Day of Action rally on gun violence attended by community leaders and local activists on June 29, 2016 in Madison, WI. PHOTO BY SAIYNA BASHIR

Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan is nudging longtime friend Rep. Peter Barca not to run for the 1st CD.

Pocan, who is endorsing Randy Bryce in the Democratic primary, told reporters at a news conference Monday in Madison he’s relayed his concerns to the Kenosha Dem and former leader of Assembly Democrats.

“I think I tried to explain the realities that are out there. It’s difficult to put a campaign together in three and a half months before a primary. And let’s face it. An ironworker scared away the speaker of the House of Representatives from running. That speaks volumes,”said Pocan, D-Town of Vermont.

Barca, who said he hopes to make a decision in “days, not weeks” on a congressional bid, stressed he has a “long, positive, strong relationship” with Pocan and the two had a “good, solid” conversation. He said Pocan noted how late it is to be getting into the race, Bryce’s head start on fundraising and other factors that the congressman believed would make a bid harder.

Still, Barca said it was not a contentious conversation and he didn’t believe Pocan was necessarily trying to dissuade him from running.

“I’ve been a member of Congress before so it’s not like I don’t understand what it takes to run a congressional race,” said Barca, who was the last Dem to hold the seat after winning it in a 1993 special election and then losing in the 1994 GOP wave.

Pocan also quipped Dems couldn’t ask for a better Republican opponent than Bryan Steil, a corporate attorney.

“I think it’s amazing they couldn’t find a single sitting elected official in the district that decided they’d like to move up to Congress,” he said. “I like corporate attorney versus iron worker. I think it’s a great contrast.”

Pocan says he’s staying out of the Dem guv’s race, and that his role is simply to prevent infighting among the candidates.

“I think there are a number of really good candidates, and I want to make sure we take the governorship back. So I think the best role I can play is just trying to make sure that everyone realizes who they’re trying to defeat, and it’s not each other,” he said.

And unlike State Superintendent Tony Evers and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, Pocan doesn’t believe the Dem field is a one or two-person race. A recent poll commissioned by Soglin showed 30 percent of voters would back Evers in August, while 17 percent would support Soglin.

Soglin said the poll signifies a two-person gubernatorial race, while Evers said it means he’s leading a one-person race.

Pocan acknowledged Evers might have the “inside track,” but that the next top candidates are anyone’s guess.

He said any of the candidates could win in November. He added one piece of advice he’s providing each gubernatorial candidate is to bash the Foxconn deal, which he says is “radioactive toxic” among voters across the state.

He’s also urging gubernatorial candidates to be authentic, a characteristic he thinks voters increasingly value in candidates for elected office.

“Don’t go up there and give a measured speech; don’t be afraid to speak your mind, even if people might disagree with you,” Pocan said. “Beyond that, be for school funding, be for improving our infrastructure, be for a different set of development than Foxconn.”

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