Better Know a State: Wisconsin – discuss Wisconsin politics and candidates – Part I

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Welcome to our 54th Better Know a State (BKAS), which will 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 this post, I will describe candidates for US Senate and US House. I will have a separate post on the Governor’s race, since there are so many candidates running.


NOTE: The deadline to file as a candidate in Wisconsin is June 1, 2018. Therefore, if you find that there is no good candidate running in your district, you have only a short time to find someone who is better and get them on the ballot. Here is information on how to file as a candidate for federal races and here is the information on how to file for state-level elections. 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.


United States Senators:. The Senators from Wisconsin are Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson. Baldwin is up for re-election in 2018. She does not have a Democratic primary challenger, but there are 8 Republicans competing to challenge her, Charles Barman, Scott Harbach, Griffin Jones, George Lucia, Jeff Mather, Kevin Nicholson, Richie Robbins and Leah Vukmir. There is also a Veterans Party of America candidate, Joseph Schnering, and two independents, Mary Jo Walters and John Schiess. I’ll discuss the Democrats and third party candidates here, but you can find information about the Republicans by doing an online search.

Tammy Baldwin: is the incumbent Senator and has a very progressive voting record (Progressive Punch Crucial Lifetime Progressive Score =95%). She is a member of the House Progressive Caucus, an outspoken advocate of universal healthcare and a co-sponsor of Bernie’s Medicare-for-All bill in the Senate. She opposed the recently-passed Republican Tax cut bill. She supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, She was opposed to the Iraq war. She voted ‘no’ on repealing the Glass-Steagall legislation that prevented Wall Street from engaging in certain risky financial transactions. Here is her website.

Joseph Schnering: is a carpenter and an Army Reservist involved in troop training. He is running as a candidate for the Veterans Party of America. Here is his website, but it doesn’t have much information about his political positions except to note that bipartisanship is important. Here is a Facebook page about him, which seems to be associated with ‘Action With Answers’, a group involved in electing conservative veterans running for office. Posts on that page suggest that Schnering is pro-Trump.

Mary Jo Walters: (Independent) is an artist who is running for Senate as an independent. She does not have a formal campaign website, but there is this page. She is part of a group called Project 100, that seeks to elect 100 progressive women to Congress by 2020 (an ambitious goal). She supports Medicare-for-All, free education (I presume college education), sanctuary cities, increased police oversight and accountability and she opposes fracking, pipeline construction, and war economies. I think she also supports other aspects of the Project 100 platform including defense of voting rights, a living wage, equal pay for equal work, quality public education, addressing income inequality, reducing gun violence, etc.

John Schiess: (Independent) is semi-retired though he does some driving of RVs and trucks to different areas of the country. He is a conservative and hosted a conservative radio show at one time. He is also a perennial candidate having run previously for US Senator (this will be his fourth time running for Senate), US Congressman (twice), Wisconsin Assemblymember (once), Governor (once) and President of the US (once). He supports conservative positions including states rights, getting the US out of the UN, ending the Federal Reserve, He also has a lot on his website about fighting ‘communism’ in America. He generally opposes abortion and research with embryonic stem cells. He opposes homosexuality. He is opposed to Obamacare and any form of government-run healthcare. He opposes Social Security. He is pro-death penalty. Here is his website.


United States House of Representatives: Wisconsin has 8 United States House Representatives, Paul Ryan (R), Mark Pocan (D), Ron Kind (D), Gwen Moore (D), F. James Sensenbrenner (R), Glenn Grothman (R), Sean Duffy (R) and Mike Gallagher (R).


WI-01: The incumbent Paul Ryan is a quite conservative Republican and current Speaker of the House of Representatives. He has decided to retire at the end of his term. There are 4 Dems competing for his seat – Charlie Breit, Randy Bryce, Christopher Guerrero and Cathy Myers. There are also six Republicans running – Paul Nehlen, Nick Polce, Jeremy Ryan, Kevin Steen, Brian Steil and Jeff Wamboldt. In addition, one Libertarian, Larry Stafford, and one Independent, Ken Yorgan, are running.

Charlie Breit is a marketer and a blogger on Medium. Here is a link to one of his posts. He does not have a formal campaign website, but his CrowdPAC page suggests that he supports free markets, personal responsibility, quality education, affordable health insurance for all (but he does not mention Medicare-for-All), the availability of low interest loans to allow people to start small businesses, spending on infrastructure and strengthening Social Security. He comes across as a fairly conservative Democrat.

Randy Bryce is an ironworker and union activist. He is nicknamed Ironstache, because of his association with the iron industry and his prominent mustache. He has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders, a raft of other progressive politicians and the Working Families Party – link. He is a candidate of the Justice Democrats. Despite these bona fides, some people have questioned his commitment to progressive ideals because (1) he campaigned extensively for Hillary after she won the nomination, (2) he was dismissive of Bernie-or-Bust voters and Jill Stein voters and (3) he was rapidly endorsed by mainstream media publications like the Washington Post, Huff Post, Daily Kos, ShareBlue, Salon and MSNBC (many of which strongly suppressed any mention of Bernie’s candidacy). Here is a link to an article summarizing these points. Bryce has also been criticized for his failure to debate his opponent, Cathy Myers – link. Bryce supports Medicare-for-All, $ 15/hr minimum wage, free public college tuition, paid family and medical leave, campaign finance reform, fighting wage theft, equal pay for equal work for women, infrastructure spending, a financial transactions tax, fair trade deals, infrastructure investment and many other strongly progressive stances. Here and here are links to two different Reddit Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) sessions with Randy Bryce. Here is his website. I guess voters in his district are going to have to decide for themselves if Bryce is the candidate they want to support.

Christopher Guerrero is listed as a candidate for this district, but he does not seem to have a campaign website or any other online presence.

Cathy Myers is a school teacher and served previously as president and vice president of the teacher’s union in the district she teaches in. She supports Medicare-for-All, Medicaid expansion in all states (presumably until Medicare-for-All is implemented), strengthening public education, free college tuition, making current student loans more affordable, increased gun regulations, supporting women and LGBT rights, protecting DACA recipients, fighting climate change and stopping the Enbridge pipeline, $ 15/hr minimum wage, union representation for all American workers, taxing Wall street transactions, taxing capital gains like normal income, publicly-financed elections and getting money out of politics. Here and here are two articles comparing Myers and Bryce, with some additional information about each one. Here is her website.

Larry Stafford is a Libertarian candidate for this office. He doesn’t seem to have a campaign website, but here is his platform, copied from his Facebook page

1) Declare peace with all fellow nations & bring a majority of troops home from foreign bases.

2) Complete elimination of public & private debt… Via a debt elimination act.

3) Declare peace on fellow citizens & end the drug war… while seeking the pardon of all non-violent drug offenders.

4) Release "free energy" data & encourage individuals becoming energy independent.

I’m not exactly sure what he means by that last point

5) Inspire the creation of an automation society, with society's focus shifting from dead end jobs to a better lifestyle for all. An example to start the ideas flowing: https://www.thevenusproject.com/ My intention is to inspire voluntary creation of such a society… Where government coercion is scaled back & eventually eliminated!

6) Pass a "Prime Law" amendment to the constitution. What I mean by the Prime Law: http://tvpnc.org/the-prime-law/

7) Create a system for other nations to voluntarily become part of the United States… Regardless what their geographic location is…

Ken Yorgan seems to be a chiropractic doctor and is running as an independent candidate for this office. He has a Facebook page, but does not seem to have a formal campaign website. It’s a little hard to know his political positions, but he posted about the protecting the environment, the Racine Green Party and opposition to the attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.


WI-02: The incumbent here is Mark Pocan, a very progressive Democrat and co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus. He is an original cosponsor of HR 676 (Medicare-for-All). He has only one challenger, Rocky ‘Chops” Ison (Father, Son and Holy Ghost Party).

Rocky Ison is running as an independent candidate in this district (although he is also listed as a candidate for the Father, Son and Holy Ghost Party). I found this website, which seems to be his. It’s a bit hard to make any sense of that site and I’m not sure what his political positions are.


WI-03: The incumbent is Ron Kind, a quite conservative Democrat (Progressive Punch Crucial Lifetime Progressive Score =72%). He is Chair Emeritus of the neoliberal New Democrat Coalition. Kind has not co-sponsored Medicare-for-All legislation (HR 676). He voted to weaken Dodd-Frank regulations and voted to fast-track TPP. His district is considered competitive for a Republican. He has one Democratic challenger, Juliet Dita Germanotta, and four Republican challengers, Brandon Cook, Che Stone Parrott, Steve Toft and Alex Virijevich.

Juliet Germanotta has a Facebook page, but is not a viable candidate. She was recently arrested in a jewelry scam case – link.


WI-04: The incumbent is Gwen Moore, a very progressive Democrat (Progressive Punch Crucial Lifetime Progressive Score = 93%) and a member of the House Progressive Caucus. She is one of the original cosponsors of HR 676 (Medicare-for-All). She has no challengers.


WI-05: The incumbent is James Sensenbrenner, a fairly moderate Republican (Progressive Punch Crucial Lifetime Progressive Score = 11.4%). He has two Democratic challengers, Ramon Hyron Garcia and Tom Palzewicz, and one Republican challenger, Jennifer Vipond. There are also 2 Independents running, Kris Riley and Dave Warnacut.

Ramon Hyron Garcia describes himself as “a disabled Hispanic man on Social security living check to check and I had to file bankruptcy due to not having health insurance.” He is affected by multiple sclerosis, but works as a home health care assistant taking care of other patients with multiple sclerosis. He has written two books on dealing with multiple sclerosis. He supports Medicare-for-All (and preserving the ACA and expanding Medicaid until we get to Medicare-for-All), ending pharmaceutical advertisements directly to consumers, fighting racial discrimination, a $ 15+/hr minimum wage, ending Citizens United, public financing of elections, electing Supreme Court judges and the head of the EPA (rather than having them appointed), support for unions, investing in green energy (obtaining 75% of our energy needs from green energy within the next 30 years) and increased gun regulations. He doesn’t mention anything about college costs on his website (though he could potentially support free college tuition, since he says he’s a Bernie Sanders supporter). Here is his webpage.

Tom Palzewicz is co-owner with his brother of an ActionCoach franchise, a business dedicated to coaching and mentoring entrepreneurs and small business owners. He’s also a Navy veteran and has worked in risk management for banks. He says “The for-profit healthcare model doesn’t work” and that he is for universal healthcare (though he doesn’t mention Medicare-for-All specifically). He wants to not spend more than we collect in taxes and to not further cut the taxes for the rich. However, he also doesn’t mention raising taxes on the rich and wealthy corporations, but instead indicates we need to cut spending. He believes in climate change and moving aggressively toward green energy with help for workers displaced from jobs in the fossil fuel industry. He supports strengthening public education (though he doesn’t mention free college tuition) and increased gun regulations. He seems to have a mix of progressive and conservative stances. Here is his website.

Kris Riley is theoretically an independent candidate in this race, but I couldn’t find any information about him/her available online.

Dave Warnacut is a Marine veteran, a product support manager selling diving equipment and is running for Congress as an independent candidate. He seems to have somewhat Libertarian positions. He wants to balance the budget and pay off national debt. He opposes the recent tax cuts, since they increase the federal budget deficit and national debt. He supports modernizing the armed forces and auditing the Department of Defense and withdrawing from Afghanistan. He also supports keeping interest rates low, devaluing the dollar, fair free trade agreements (though he doesn’t mention worker or environmental rights, so I’m not sure what exactly he means by fair agreements), simplifying immigration policies, encouraging businesses to move to rural areas, reducing the influence of the Department of Education on local school districts, reducing college costs (though he didn’t mention free college tuition), fighting air pollution and putting more electric cars on roads. He would loosen immigration rules and let anyone immigrate to the US as long as a background check deemed them low risk (though they would be ineligible for any government assistance and would be deported if they could not support themselves or if they turn to crime). He also supports raising the age of eligibility for Social Security, but also increasing the cap on contributions. He has a plan for healthcare that involves repealing and replacing Obamacare with a universal program that covers everyone and is paid for by a 10% tax on income. Medicare and Medicaid would be rolled into this program as well. People would still be able to buy private insurance if they prefer. Here is his webpage.


WI-06: The incumbent is Glenn Grothman, a conservative Republican who voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. There are two Democrats competing to challenge him, Carter Dary and Dan Kohl. There are also two Republicans challenging him, Glenn Grothman and Scott Olmer.

Carter Dary is listed as a candidate for office in this race. But he doesn’t have a campaign website or Facebook page or any other social media presence. I did find a couple of letters-to-the-editor that he wrote for a Madison paper in 2012 – link 1 and link 2. In those, he described himself as “I’m a 66-year-old retiree and former clergy person”.

Dan Kohl Kohl is a lawyer at a large law firm (Baker and Hostetler, which works in a variety of areas representing clients in the hospitality, healthcare, financial services, media, energy, sports and technology fields). He is also Vice President of Political Affairs at J Street and describes his work there as overseeing “the development of the nation’s largest pro-Israel political action committee.” J Street as a whole is an organization that promotes American leadership to end the Arab–Israeli and Israel–Palestinian conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. Here is his webpage, but it doesn’t have much detail on the policies he supports.


WI-07: The incumbent is Sean Duffy, another very conservative Republican who voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. There are 5 Democrats running to challenge him, David Beeksma, Margaret Engebretson, Brian Ewert, Kyle Frenette and Bob Look. There is also a candidate from the One Direct Participatory Democracy Party, Ken Driessen.

David Beeksma seems to be a psychologist and is listed as a candidate for this race. But he does not have a campaign website or any other online presence.

Margaret Engebretson is a lawyer focusing on representing clients who are legally-incapable (such as children or mentally-challenged people). She supports Medicare-for-All and defending Medicare and Medicaid until Medicare-for-All can be achieved. She also supports defending Social Security, paid family and medical leave, $ 15/hr minimum wage, aggressively fighting climate change, improving rural infrastructure including broadband access, enforcing human rights, free and fair elections, fighting big money in politics, freedom of the press, and the integrity of the judiciary. Here is her website.

Brian Ewert is a doctor who supports a public option to the ACA. He also supports expanding rural broadband access, affordable higher education (but doesn’t mention free college tuition), increased development of green energy, defending Social Security, infrastructure spending and bipartisan solutions to problems. Here is his website.

Kyle Frenette is the founder and manager of Middle West, a firm that represents musicians. He manages the band Bon Iver as well as other music groups. He supports Medicare-for-All, fighting the opioid epidemic, raising the minimum wage to $ 15/hr, free college tuition, removing tax loopholes and fighting climate change. He also supports unions, spending on infrastructure, better broadband access and spending on public rather than private schools. On guns, he supports an assault weapons ban, licensing and registration of firearms, mandatory training for gun owners, a federal minimum age requirement of 21, universal background checks and 48 hour waiting periods for all citizens who wish to apply for a firearms license and purchase guns or ammunition. Here is his website.

Bob Look is a radio broadcaster, whose wife was tragically shot (and died) in a mass shooting – link. Here is his website, but it doesn’t have much information on his policies. But the article in linked above, says:

One issue Look emphasized in an interview with USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin is health care, saying the United States shouldn't operate under a "for-profit" system. Some people choose between going to the doctor or putting food on the table, he said, a decision no one should ever have to make.

Look also expressed concern about poverty throughout the district and said residents of rural counties in particular are struggling. While people tout low unemployment rates as progress, he said, those statistics don't consider people forced to work jobs below their talent levels, or who take on odd jobs like cleaning homes to make ends meet.

"There is a vicious cycle that’s going on where the haves want more and the have-nots get less," he said.

Look doesn't intend to operate a campaign driven by money. He said he believes he can offer the 7th District honesty and the perspective of someone who doesn't come from wealth. He also said it's important to listen to all sides and represent the district and its interests, something he contends current leadership is not doing.

"If I’m elected to Congress, I’m not going to be a congressman just for the Democratic Party," he said. "I’m going to be the congressman for the Democrats, the Republicans, the independents, the believers, the atheists. Everyone."

Ken Driessen says he has “been a union steward with the USW, a peace activist and an advocate for sensible drug policy”, though I’m not sure if he’s doing any of those things currently. He has a Eugene Debs quote on his website (for those who may not know, Eugene Debs was a democratic socialist political activist from the late 1800s/early 1900s and he is a favorite of Bernie). He wants to implement a Direct Participatory Democracy in which he will use a voting algorithm in his district. If elected, he will poll his district on every vote and vote the way the majority in the district want him to. So if his constituents support Medicare-for-All, free college tuition, raising the minimum wage etc., he will vote for those things. Here is his website.


WI-08: The incumbent is Mike Gallagher, a very conservative Republican who voted to repeal and replace Obamacare. He is facing two Democratic challengers, Rahb Kettleson and Beau Liegeois.

Rahb Kettleson is listed as a candidate in this race, but he does not have a website or any online presence.

Beau Liegeois is an Army veteran, a lawyer and an Assistant District Attorney. Here is his website, but it has very little information on on the policies he supports. He does say “In Congress, Beau will work to fix the Affordable Care Act and live up to the values with which he was raised by his parents and grandparents – to heal the sick and care for the elderly. Beau will work with anyone who shares his goal of increased access to health care and reducing the costs.”


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, 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 are a work in progress.

NEXT STATE UP – Wisconsin – Part 2

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