Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) will face a primary challenge. Jared William Landry of La Farge filed papers on April 26 with the Government Accountability Board to run as a Democrat in the 32nd Senate district.
That sets up a primary between Shilling, currently the Senate Minority Leader, and Landry on August 9th.
Sources within the area’s political apparatus say Landry is inspired by the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, much like Congressman Ron Kind’s primary challenger. While this is unsubstantiated and information about Landry is sparse so far, if this is the case, it’s evidence of a trend of far-left populist candidates emerging to challenge establishment politicians.
If Landry’s candidacy is indeed inspired by Sanders, he could use Shilling’s public support of Hillary Clinton against her. Sanders won the 3rd Congressional district handily, and in Shilling’s backyard, La Crosse County, Sanders trounced Clinton 63 percent to 37 percent.
Kind also bucked the district’s trend by throwing his superdelegate vote behind Clinton, despite the popular vote in the district being heavily for Sanders.
Shilling has been in politics essentially her entire adult life, starting as La Crosse County Board supervisor, entering state politics as the 95th Assembly district representative in 2000, and most recently defeating Sen. Dan Kapanke to claim a seat in the state Senate in 2011.
Kapanke recently announced he will challenge Shilling for the seat he once held. Kapanke, too, has a primary challenge from John Sarnowski of Onalaska. Sarnowski has a history of unsuccessful challenges in Republican primaries.
Landry, however, doesn’t appear to have been active in politics. According to GAB records he hasn’t donated money to either Shilling in recent years or to the 2014 Democratic challenger to Rep. Lee Nerison in his home Assembly district, Pete Flesch.