Wisconsin’s Choices for Governor

by Phil Anderson

According to recent newspaper stories, many Wisconsin voters don’t know enough about the candidates for governor to form an opinion. A Marquette University poll says thirty eight percent are still undecided about the Democratic candidates for Governor. The August 14th primary election is less than two weeks away. If you are uninformed or undecided, this article is for you. 

There are eight Democrats running for governor. There are 10 on the August 14th ballot but  Dana Wachs and Andy Gronik have withdrawn. This may seem confusing because all the Democratic candidates have similar positions on issues. But there are differences in experience and the chances of winning. Below you will find information and guidance to help you make up you mind.

The Wisconsin Choice website has profiles and videos of the Democratic candidates.  Wisconsin Choice sponsored an online “vote” to narrow the Democratic field. They had over 5000 people participate. Their intent was to identify a “peoples candidate” prior to the August 14th  primary. Their process selected four candidates. See http://wichoose.org. Wisconsin Vote  covers all politcal parties with candidates on the ballet for all offices. Their web site includes candidate profiles, news articles, and interviews with the candidates. See www.wisconsinvote.org. 

Here is the list of Democratic candidates for governor. The first four are in order of experience holding an elected office. The rest are listed by years of experience in organaizational or business leadership. 

Paul Soglin, 73, is currently mayor of Madison. All his elected experience has been with the City of Madison. He was first elected in 1968 to the Madison Common Council and served three terms. Between 1973 and the present, he has served as mayor three separate times for a total of six terms. See https://paulsoglinforgovernor.com. 

Kathleen Vinehout, 59, is an organic dairy farmer in rural Buffalo County and a State Senator. In 2006 she beat a popular Republican incumbent in a mostly rural district. She has been re-elected twice. In the Senate she is considered an expert on state budget issues. 

Tony Evers, 65, has been state Superintendent of Public Instruction since 2009. He is the only candidate to have won a statewide elected position (three times). He has been involved with pubic education for 34 years as teacher and administrator. The Marquette poll says Evers leads the other Democrats with 18% support. See www.tonyevers.com. 

Kelda Roys, 38, is a small-business owner, former state Assembly person, attorney, and advocate for women. In 2008, she was elected to the State Assembly, serving two terms. For four years she was the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, a non-profit advocacy organization. She is the currently owner of OpenHomes, a real estate brokerage that uses technology to help people sell and buy homes more easily and affordable. See https://keldaforgovernor.com. 

Mike McCabe, 58, has 15 years experience as the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a campaign finance reform advocacy organization. He currently heads Blue Jean Nation, a nonpartisan organization working to find bipartisan solutions. He has worked as a communications director and legislative liaison for Madison public schools, a newspaper reporter, and as a legislative aide for three Republican members of the Wisconsin State Assembly. See www.governorbluejeans.com.  

Matt Flynn, 70, is a U.S. Navy veteran, attorney, and former chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (1981 to 1985). He is a retired lawyer. In the past he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. See www.forwardwithflynn.com. 

Mahlon Mitchell, 40, is a president of the Professional Fire Fighters Association of Wisconsin   and was a fire fighter in Madison for 20 years. He was active in the protests against Governor Walker in 2010 and ran unsuccessfully for Lt. Governor in the 2012 recall effort. See https://mahlonmitchell.com. 

Josh Pade, 38, is a lawyer and political newcomer. He left Wisconsin in 2007 to attend law school and returned last year. He has no significant political experience. See www.padeforwisconsin.com.  

All the Democratic candidates support programs and policies to help people, create a more fair economy, and build better local communities. They are concerned about healthcare, public schools, good jobs, protecting of the environment, housing, roads and support a green energy economy. All of them oppose Governor Walker’s polices that have cut funding to and weakened all of these vital needs. Walker’s “open for business” agenda has failed to improve Wisconsin’s economy despite large tax breaks, subsidies for business, reductions in regulations, and gutting of environmental protection. 

The impact on your life between any of the Democratic candidates and Walker is significant.   As a voter you should ask yourself several questions. Are you a millionaire benefiting from tax cuts and business subsidies? Or are you a worker with a family, farmer, small business owner, or retiree who struggles with affording health insurance and making enough to pay the bills?  Are you a student drowning in student loan debt with lousy job prospects? Are you a parent worried about what is happening with your local public schools? Are you affected by deterioration of local communities, loss of good jobs, and the poisoning of our local water supplies? If you are any of these you should be voting for Democrats. 

Another question is who can win in November. Obviously the last three candidates listed above are unlikely to be successful. They should be running for local offices not governor. Mayor Soglin, not known outside of Madison, is not a good bet. Evers and Vinehout have the best qualifications, experience, and name recognition. But do they have the appeal to younger voters and independents? Roys and McCabe might have that appeal but can they win? The reality is ALL these candidates will have a huge struggle to overcome the power of incumbency, rural conservatism, and massive out-of-state money supporting Walker. 

Electing a “people’s champion” governor will require a massive voter turnout and grassroots support for the Democratic primary winner. It is time to set aside petty divisions, selfish personal gain, party loyalty, and ideological differences to vote for the greater good of all of Wisconsin. 

The outcome in November will not only be about who the candidate is, but it will also be about what YOU DO to support change. Will you donate money, volunteer, put up a yard sign, or talk to your neighbors? Everyone must do their part.