Just a few thoughts on the Democratic Primary race for Rep. Wasserman's seat .. there are TWO short weeks before the September 9th vote.
First off .. there is one final Candidate Forum scheduled. The Milwaukee Area Jewish Committee is hosting a forum at the Whitefish Bay Library, Tuesday, September 2nd at 7pm. It will be moderated by Dr. Enrique Figueroa, who is the Director of the Roberto Hernandez Center at UWM and a Host of the 4th Street Forum.
All four Democratic candidates will be there, plus the sole Republican candidate.
I was looking for other news on what the candidates have been up to and found that ExpressMilwaukee.com has done a nice profile on each Democratic candidate, asking them identical questions. Here are the links to each article:
These 4 Q&As do a great job defining each candidate, although many of their positions are the same.
All four think Milwaukee School Choice is not a great success, or should be eliminated. I'm surprised by that, since I would assume most of the 22nd District favors School Choice, especially the Milwaukee chunk. When the Democratic party will cease their opposition to School Choice, I know not. MPS is a failing system .. eliminating School Choice, driving some 22,000 kids back into MPS would be a disaster. Most folks believe the voucher system has a positive effect on the lives of thousands of families, and should be supported to an extent.
Update: Johnson called for its elimination. Feldman, Pasch, and Kolh gave more nuanced answers, which you can read for yourself.
All four candidates are strongly in favor of Wisconsin giving universal Health Care to all citizens (Healthy Wisconsin) .. although I think Johnson's statement, that he "favors comprehensive health care for all, but it has to come at the national level to be effective" is the most moderate. The 22nd District is one of the most affluent in Wisconsin, which is to say, the uninsured population of the district is far smaller than most. Johnson has the best answer there.
Asked if Wisconsin should ease restrictions on the building of nuclear power plants, Feldman replies with a flat "no", Kohl and Pasch suggest flexibility if safety issues are addressed, but Johnson comes through with, again, the best answer .. with safety "insurances, nuclear plants are a better option than fossil plant options, both in terms of fuel availability environmental protection." Mental note guys, even Democratic Gov. Doyle just said he favors lifting the nuclear moratorium for power plants in Wisconsin.
All four think illegal immigrants should be charged in-state tuition in the UW-System .. again, surprising none have a more moderate stance, since, firstly, there are very few illegal immigrants in the 22nd district, but also, that's an unpopular position, unless you are pretty far left on the political spectrum. Clearly, that may play in a suburb like Shorewood, but much less so as you go North, to Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, River Hills, etc.
Finally, asked if Milwaukee County should be allowed to raise their Sales Tax 1% to provide revenue for transit, parks, and the arts, Feldman and Pasch gave a simple "Yes" .. while Kohl and Johnson tempered their responses, suggesting they would be leery of tax increases. Good for them.
So now what?
I admit I am in a bit of a quandary. Originally, I was going to pick a candidate, endorse them on this blog, and plant a lawn sign in front of my house weeks ago. I haven't been able to pick one yet.
From these interviews, and from what I heard from the last forum, Feldman sounds like the farthest left candidate. He might be the smartest guy up there, and he's great at public speaking, but his eager support for certain policies make me uncomfortable. No nuclear power, no school choice, yes to Healthy Wisconsin, yes to an increase in sales taxes, yes to illegal immigrants being granted entrance and in-state tuition. That may work in Shorewood, but the rest of the 22nd has divergent views. Update: I have mis-read Feldman's view on School Choice. He did not suggest it be eliminated and gave a nuanced answer, read for yourself.
Kohl impressed me at the forum as a well-spoken, smart guy. He's stopped by my house a couple times and wrote a note, which I appreciate. But .. "I'm proud of my own credentials. It's about me. It's not about Herb," (Dan) Kohl said. Well, then, why did you have uncle Herb send out a campaign letter on your behalf? That's just bush-league. Win because you're right on the issues, win because you can really represent the people and their desires. Don't win because you're some guy's nephew. Disappointing. Didn't need to do that.
Pasch continues to be the health care candidate. As I stated before, Dr. Wasserman was (and will continue to be) representing all us in that field, and that's just not one of my top 5 issues for the 22nd District. Last time I wrote that, I got an immediate response from the Pasch campaign, telling me Pasch is not a one trick pony, etc. That's fine and dandy, but when asked "What's the biggest challenge facing your district" the response was "Health-care concerns loom large.." Two of the three (!) pieces of Pasch mail I received today had healthcare plastered all over. Sorry. Pasch's entire background is health care and nursing.
Today the JS Editorial Board rolled out their endorsement for Pasch for .. drum roll .. health care reasons.
Finally, there's Guy Johnson. While I reported that Johnson's performance at the Shorewood Forum wasn't the greatest .. I gotta admit his moderate, somewhat non-partisan, pragmatic, thoughtful answers to questions makes him a very appealing candidate. Clearly, the other candidates are out fund-raising him nearly ten-fold, and that's too bad. He might be the best representative for the 22nd district. If Republicans cross-over and vote in this primary, they would be best served to vote for Johnson.
With a huge money disadvantage, that's Johnson's path to victory. With four candidates in this race, the winner only needs 25-30% of the total. The 22nd district is about 40-45% Republican .. if he gets half of them to cross over, he wins this race. I'm not suggesting that's his secret scheme, but he's the most politically center Dem candidate, making him attractive to Republicans as their 2nd choice.
You ask, why not consider Yash Wadhwa, the sole Republican running in this race? Because he's going to lose. By a ton. Last time I wrote that it would take the eventual Democratic candidate running over two dozen puppies for Wadhwa to have a chance. Wadhwa phoned me up, and asked "Do you know where I can buy some puppies?" -- No doubt, Wadhwa may have the best sense of humor in this race, which should console him as he loses the November election by 20 points.
Other 22nd District Race Articles:
- WI Jewish Chronicle profiles Pasch, Feldman, and Kohl, all from the Jewish community.
- WI Democracy Campaign - Fund-raising reports for all 5 candidates - Scroll down to "A22"
- Express Milwaukee.com profiles all four candidates
- Wow .. Dan Kohl is a good golfer.
- WFB's Advocates for Education did a Q&A with each candidate .. good read.
- Lame article from JSOnline describing each candidate. I call it lame because .. they should be doing a HUGE story on this race .. an open seat, four qualified candidates?
Stay informed .. make sure you read the 22nd Assembly District Forum Recap, the Race for Wasserman's open seat.
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