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Welcome to our 61st Better Know a State (BKAS), which will again focus on WISCONSIN. As I indicated before, the plan is to do these state-by-state, highlighting upcoming elections, progressive candidates in those states and major issues being fought (with an emphasis on Democratic, Independent and third party candidates). State residents can let me know if I’ve missed anything important or mistakenly described some of these issues. In my previous post, I described candidates for US Senate and US House in Wisconsin. In this post, I focus on the Governor’s race, where there are many candidates running.
NOTE: The date of the primary election in Wisconsin is August 14, 2018. Wisconsin has open primaries, which means that voters can choose which primary they want to vote in. You can register at the polls on the day of the election if you have not already registered to vote.
The governor of Wisconsin is Scott Walker. There are a large number of (15) candidates running against him. He is facing a primary challenge by Republican Robert Meyer. There are ten Democrats competing, Tony Evers, Matt Flynn, Andy Gronik, Mike McCabe, Mahlon Mitchell, Joshua Pade, Kelda Roys, Paul Soglin, Kathleen Vinehout and Dana Wachs. There is also one Libertarian, Phillip Anderson, one Green Party candidate, Michael White, and two independents, Maggie Turnbull and Arnie Enz. There were even more candidates, but some have dropped out. Here’s a description of the Democratic candidates, the independents and the third-party candidates. Note that there is a wealth of great candidates running in Wisconsin. Because of this, progressives will have quite a choice to make on which candidate to vote for.
Tony Evers is a teacher and the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction (overseeing Wisconsin public schools). Given his background, you probably won’t be surprised to know that he has a big focus on supporting and strengthening public education and public universities in Wisconsin, including restoring funding cut by the Walker administration. He also wants to allow students to refinance college loans at lower interest rates. He supports spending on infrastructure (roads, bridges, public transit, ports, airports and railways), expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin, reducing costs for health insurance and drugs, protecting the environment, fighting climate change, providing universal high-speed broadband access, reversing the decision to defund Planned Parenthood, criminal justice reform (ending mandatory minimum sentences, ending solitary confinement, increased transparency and accountability of police, working on re-integrating parolees into society), marijuana legalization, non-partisan redistricting and campaign finance reform. He would also disband the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and return those dollars to local and regional economic development organizations. He opposes Right-to-Work laws and would repeal legislation that eliminates the opportunity for local communities to pass living wages and other pro-worker protection policies. He supports a $ 15/hr minimum wage implemented over several years. He seems like a strong candidate to me. Here is his webpage.
Matt Flynn is a retired lawyer, a writer and a former state Democratic Party Chairman in Wisconsin. The Republicans have attacked him on the fact that when he was a lawyer he represented the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee in cases involving allegations of sexual abuse. He has a statement on his webpage addressing those allegations and he says he was representing the church as a whole when they were sued, not defending pedophile priests. He supports raising the minimum wage to $ 15/hr, reversing Right-to-Work laws, implementing a fairer and more progressive tax structure, accepting Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin, restoring an independent Department of Natural Resources, increasing public education funding (schools and universities), providing 2 years free tuition at Wisconsin public colleges and universities to Wisconsin residents, allowing student loan refinancing, fixing roads and infrastructure, automatic voter registration, nonpartisan redistricting, marijuana legalization and enforcing net neutrality. He also wants to reform the WEDC. He would move to stop the Foxconn deal in Wisconsin. He also has strong positions, similar to Evers, but with a couple of additional points (2 years free college tuition, net neutrality and ending the Foxconn deal).
Andy Gronik is founder, president and CEO of GroBiz, a business consulting firm. He supports criminal justice reform, legalizing marijuana, strengthening public schools and restoring collective bargaining rights, better funding public universities, free college for Wisconsin students (though he says they have to have the grades – not sure what the grade cutoff would be), helping current college graduates pay off school loans, combatting climate change, keeping public lands and parks public, restoring the Department of Natural Resources, improving the Foxconn deal to make it better for Wisconsin, increased gun regulations, accepting Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin, instituting a state program to increase competition in healthcare (and lower costs), paid family leave, legislation that penalizes drug companies for price gouging, taking action against drug companies driving the opioid epidemic and addressing lead in water supplies. He also talks of $ 15/hr minimum wage, but only on the page about healthcare, where he is specifically referring to healthcare workers. It is unclear to me if he supports a general increase in minimum wage to $ 15/hr. Here is his website.
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation, a grassroots group dedicated to getting regular people in the driver's seat of government. He supports restoring independence to the Department of Natural Resources, fighting climate change, incentivizing small, sustainable agriculture over large industrialized farms, replacing lead water pipes in Wisconsin, returning decision making on many issues to local communities (ending state pre-emption laws), providing high speed internet access throughout Wisconsin and bringing back automatic adjustments in the gas tax for inflation to keep revenue in line with road expenses and to fix the roads and bridges in the state. He also supports legalizing marijuana, pardoning non-violent drug offenders in prisons, reducing the state sales tax rate by 10% while applying the tax to certain now-exempt purchases and ending the Manufacturers and Agriculture tax credit (MAC) tax loophole that mainly benefits the wealthy. He is also in favor of running a test of universal basic income in Wisconsin, increasing minimum wage to eventually reach $ 15/hr (with regional flexibility so that some areas will have higher minimum wages) and tying minimum wage to inflation, ending school vouchers, ending the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation because it has not been effective, making state government less corrupt and more transparent, making BadgerCare a public option to the ACA and making all Wisconsin residents eligible for the state pension plan. He is funding his campaign with donations of only $ 200 or less. Here is his website and here is an article about him. I think he is one of the best candidates running for governor.
Mahlon Mitchell is a firefighter and the President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, a union representing firefighters. He is also a former Bernie Sanders delegate. He supports raising the minimum wage to $ 15/hr, expanding the child care tax credit, ending the Manufacturers and Agriculture tax credit (MAC) that benefits the wealthy, paying down the state debt, sharing more state revenue with local communities, strengthening food assistance programs and expanding eligibility for rental assistance. He also supports investing more money in public education, better support public universities and technical colleges, allowing refinancing of student loans at lower interest and creating a loan forgiveness program with commitment to public service. He would expand Medicaid in Wisconsin, allow BadgerCare as a public option to the ACA, expand SeniorCare services, lower prescription drug costs (though he didn’t really say how he’d do that) and fight the opioid epidemic. He also supports ending truth-in-sentencing laws (read about that here if you’re not sure what it is), expanding early release programs, legalizing marijuana, reforming juvenile detention, investing in infrastructure including fixing roads and bridges, investing in green energy, protecting family farms and voting rights and fair elections. Here is his website and here is an article about him. I think he is also a strong candidate.
Joshua Pade is a lawyer who works at J. Crew as an executive for business continuity. He previously did a fellowship in 2011 Legislative and Communications with Senator Dianne Feinstein. His website talks about building roads and bridges, fighting the opioid epidemic, not failing students and teachers and the government governing our bodies (is he talking about availability of abortion here?). Other than that, there is no information on his policies on his website. He comes across as a fairly conservative, neoliberal type of candidate.
Kelda Roys is a lawyer and a former State Representative and Democratic Caucus Chair. She is founder and CEO of OpenHomes, a virtual real estate agency that helps homeowners sell their homes. She supports increased gun regulations, expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin, making BadgerCare a public option, improving access to mental health care, helping small and family-owned businesses, repairing infrastructure, increasing spending on clean energy, collective bargaining, increasing minimum wage to $ 15/hr, universal paid family and medical leave, opening the Wisconsin Retirement system to all Wisconsinites, equal pay for women, fully funding the DNR and returning science to its decision-making, criminal justice reform, fighting the opioid epidemic, lowering prescription drug prices and legalizing marijuana. Here is her website. She’s also a good candidate.
Paul Soglin is a lifetime activist (he participated in the Civil Rights movement as a young man), a lawyer and the Mayor of Madison, a position he’s held 3 separate times from 1973-1979, from 1989-1997 and again from 2011-the present. He supports instituting a housing program, building more affordable housing and eliminating homelessness, expanding Medicaid, more education and job training, increasing the minimum wage to $ 12-15/hr, high-speed broadband for all parts of Wisconsin, stopping bankrupting financial packages to foreign companies, investing in public coops, increased state income taxes on the most wealthy, increased public school spending, lower tuition at state universities and colleges, loan repayment for students who stay in Wisconsin, restoring tenure at universities, depoliticizing the DNR, further supports for agriculture, increased gun regulations and LGBT rights. He opposes Act 10, that destroys public sector unions. Here is his website. He is also a very strong candidate.
Kathleen Vinehout is a former college professor, a dairy farmer and current State Senator in Wisconsin. As a State Senator, she wrote alternative budgets each year that proposed to spend dollars on more public services than Scott Walker’s budgets. Of course, none of those budgets got passed, but she’d like to implement some of her ideas if she is elected governor. She has a very detailed and complete list of her policies on her website. Here is some of things she supports: reducing high-stakes testing in schools, spending more on public education, restoring funding to the University of Wisconsin, accepting the Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin, offering BadgerCare as a public option to the ACA, having the DNR run by an independent Secretary appointed by the Natural Resources Board and protecting the environment and investing in green energy. She also supports free tuition at technical colleges and 2 year colleges, $ 15/hr minimum wage, ending truth-in-sentencing laws for jail time, creating a private public partnership to renovate inner city abandoned houses and turn them into owner-occupied homes and LGBT rights. She opposes Act 10 (to destroy public sector unions). She has a fairly nuanced position on guns. Here’s an excerpt from her website “I support a person’s defense of their home under clear threat but not Florida style – “Stand Your Ground” legislation. I support conceal and carry but not Constitutional – or Permit-less – Carry. I don’t support expanding Conceal and Carry to schools or universities. I oppose arming teachers in schools. I support universal background checks including for private sales.” Here is her website. Vinehout also comes across as a very strong candidate.
Dana Wachs is an attorney and current State Representative. He supports expanding eligibility to BadgerCare and allowing people to buy into the program as a public option, increasing job training assistance, increasing the minimum wage to $ 15/hr, providing paid family and medical leave, ending corporate handouts, extending high speed broadband to every region of Wisconsin, fixing roads and bridges, investing in public universities, allowing refinancing of student loans, increased funding and support for housing, increased public school funding, freeing the Department of Natural Resources from political influence, increasing green energy spending, and working to replace lead pipes in water supplies. Here is his website. He is a good candidate as well.
Phillip Anderson is a realtor and the current Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin and running as a Libertarian Party candidate for governor. He supports state and local rights of government, reducing regulations, free markets, free trade between countries, promoting private services over government ones, ending the war on drugs, legalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform, repealing the state income tax and ending military interventions. He wants to end Wisconsin involvement in the Federal Healthcare Marketplace (for the ACA). He opposes the Foxconn deal in Wisconsin. He supports ranked choice voting. Here is his website.
Michael White is a Green Party candidate for governor. I was not able to figure out his occupation and he may be retired. He supports urgently fighting climate change and ending the use of fossil fuels, government for the people not the rich, getting money out of politics and ending corporate personhood, government for the public good and a higher minimum wage. He also supports the Green Party New Deal that involves campaign finance reform, a job guarantee at a living wage, rights to organize a union, tuition-free college and forgiving student loan debt, the right to decent housing for everyone, the right to affordable utilities, fair taxation of corporations and rich, emphasizing small and locally-owned companies, nationalizing the Federal Reserve, breaking up too-big-to-fail banks, restoring Glass-Stegall, repealing the Patriot Act, reducing military spending, etc. He opposes torture. He believes automatic weapons should not be covered by the 2nd Amendment. Here is his website. He is another great candidate.
Maggie Turnbull is an astronomer for NASA and a former Antigo Town Councillor and an independent candidate for governor. I couldn’t find a formal campaign website for her, but here is her Facebook page. The posts there suggest that she supports getting money out of politics, but I couldn’t tell what her other positions were in a quick perusal.
Arnie Enz is the founder of A.J. Enz & Company, which seems to be a business consulting service as far as I could tell. Enz is running as an independent candidate for governor (though he also lists himself as a candidate of the Wisconsin Party). Here is his website, which doesn’t have a lot of detail, but says both Democrats and Republicans suck and we need to vote outside the 2-party paradigm. He is not taking donations from anyone and pledges to spend less than $ 1000 of his own money on this campaign. He also says he would support “rebuilding our core infrastructure while being fiscally responsible and protecting our environment and natural resources for future generations”. And he says that would be kind and treat others with respect.
Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any important candidates or issues.
In case you missed the previous BKAS posts, here they are:
In case you missed the previous BKAS posts, they are all posted in the new subreddit we made to hold all of these r/BetterKnowAState. These are the states we’ve done so far that are listed in that subreddit – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. The remaining states (New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Louisiana) are a work in progress.
NEXT STATE UP – New Hampshire