The race for Wisconsin governor is getting more crowded on the Democratic side. So far, four have officially entered the Democratic primary, and three other viable contenders have set up campaign committees.
Here’s an updated list of announced candidates for statewide and federal elections in Wisconsin in 2018. While formal announcements by incumbents from governor to Congress are so far few and far between, it’s generally expected that most incumbents will run for re-election. We will update this list as formal announcements start rolling in.
- Bob Harlow (D) – 25-year-old Stanford graduate who last ran for Congress in California in 2016 formally announced in May
- Andy Gronik (D) – Milwaukee businessman told the AP he will be running in June
- Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) announced he’s running on Aug. 7
- State Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers announced he’s running on Aug. 23
- Governor Scott Walker (R) has not yet formally announced he’ll run for re-election, but is widely expected to announce upon completion of the state budget.
- Former state Sen. Tim Cullen, Rep. Ron Kind, state Sen. Jennifer Shilling, Dane County exec Joe Parisi, and Milwaukee County exec Chris Abele have all declined to run.
- Other possible Democrat contenders are Mike McCabe, Kathleen Vinehout, Paul Soglin, and former Rep. Brett Hulsey. McCabe, Vinehout, and Hulsey have set up gubernatorial campaign committees.
- In all, there are 18 active campaign committees for the 2018 gubernatorial race.
- No formal announcements yet
- Lt Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R), incumbent
- Josh Kaul (D) – A 36-year-old Madison lawyer and son of former Wisconsin AG Peg Lautenschlager, who recently resigned as head of the state Ethics Commission.
- AG Brad Schimel (R), incumbent
- Veterans advocate and businessman Kevin Nicholson (R) formally announced in late July
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), incumbent
- State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R) formally announced her candidacy on Sept. 7
- Hedge fund manager Eric Hovde is a possible candidate, but talk of his running has dimmed
- Nicole Schneider of the Schneider Trucking family decided against running
- Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald won’t run; he’s endorsing Vukmir
Wisconsin Supreme Court
- Incumbent Justice Michael Gableman announced he won’t seek re-election
- Michael Skrenock, conservative Sauk County Circuit Court judge
- Liberal Madison attorney Tim Burns
- Liberal Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet
Congress, 1st District
- Rep. Paul Ryan (R), incumbent
- Paul Nehlen (R), reprising his failed primary challenge of 2016 against Ryan
- Randy Bryce (D), union activist who bills himself as an iron worker
- Cathy Myers (D), teacher and Janesville School Board member
- David Yankovich (D), Ohio resident who moved to the district this spring
- Ryan Solen (D) has an active campaign committee
Congress, 2nd District
- *Rep. Mark Pocan (D), incumbent
- Dan Theron (R) has an active campaign committee
Congress, 3rd District
- *Rep. Ron Kind (D), incumbent
Congress, 4th District
- *Rep. Gwen Moore (D), incumbent
- Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski, a moderate Democrat, is considering challenging Moore in the Dem primary.
Congress, 5th District
- *Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R), incumbent
Congress, 6th District
- *Rep. Glenn Grothmann (R), incumbent
- Dan Kohl (D), nephew of former Senator Herb Kohl and Bucks executive has announced.
- Scott Olmer (D), a marketing consultant, has also announced.
- Jeffrey Dahlke (I) has an active campaign committee
- Sarah Lloyd (D) also has an active campaign committee
Congress, 7th District
- *Rep. Sean Duffy (R), incumbent
Congress, 8th District
- *Rep. Mike Gallagher (R), incumbent
- Tom Nelson (D) maintains an active committee
The following by James Wigderson first appeared at Right Wisconsin. The headline is mine because “throwing grandma over a cliff” is simply another way of putting what’s really being depicted. The ad’s cute background music and voiceover shouldn’t distract from the fact that a lookalike of the Speaker of the House is depicted as committing murder in this ad, something we should all remember as Democrats across the country talk out of both sides of their mouths about the need for civility.
So much for a more civil tone in Washington D.C. after the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-LA. A liberal organization, the Agenda Project Action Fund, is bringing back a controversial ad accusing House Speaker Paul Ryan of wanting to throw grandma off a cliff.
This time the ad has been re-edited to include comments from President Donald Trump when, during last year’s presidential campaign, he was promising not to cut entitlements:
Video of Trump: “Remember the wheel chair being pushed over the cliff when you had Ryan chosen as your Vice President. That was the end of that campaign, by the way when they chose Ryan. I said, you got to be kidding. Because he represented cutting entitlements, etc. etc. The only one who is not going to cut is me.”
Video of Grandma in the wheel chair, voice over: “But now President Trump is doing everything that young man says.”
Video of Trump: “Paul Ryan, come up and say a few words. Congratulations on a job well done.”
The ad has been widely attacked since it first appeared in 2011 for carrying political rhetoric too far, but liberals have returned to the ad again and again to attack Ryan. In 2012, after Ryan was picked as the Republican candidate for Vice President by former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Madison television stationrefused to run the ad because of the content.
In an interview with Fox News, Ryan was asked if he can laugh at the ad. “Oh yeah, I’m so used to this by now,” Ryan said. “I think the left is out of gas. I think they just basically decide, resist, resist, resist.”
“They want government-run health care,” Ryan said. “Government-run health care is collapsing while we speak. It’s not working. So what’re we doing? We’re replacing it with a law that will actually work.”
Two Democrats have rolled out what appear to be strong, well-funded campaigns to take on Speaker Paul Ryan for Wisconsin’s first congressional district next fall.
Cathy Myers is a teacher and Janesville School Board member. Her message will be that Paul Ryan is an “out-of-touch millionaire,” but in the primary she will attempt to unite Democrats behind her with the message of “let’s take on Paul Ryan together.”
Randy Bryce bills himself as a union iron worker. His message centers on bashing Ryan’s healthcare proposals and, in a video that accompanied his rollout, he challenges Ryan to “switch jobs” with him. While he claims to be a humble iron worker, Bryce is a familiar face in political activist circles, having testified before the state legislature against conservative union reforms and taking the bullhorn at a rally protesting President Trump’s visit to Milwaukee.
Is Bryce actually an iron worker, or is he actually one of those people who climbs the union ranks far enough to spend all this time on the job doing union activist work while everyone else toils away?
Both Bryce and Myers rolled out their campaigns with slick, highly produced videos that attempt to tug at heartstrings over healthcare reform. As is the case across the country, the Democrats try to claim Obamacare’s repeal and replacement will cause people to die. Ryan, who was the target of the now-iconic “throwing granny over the cliff” TV ad, is used to being painted as an evil person by the left.
Painting their political opponents as evil death mongers and mustache twirlers seems to be the only hope for a political party with no actual ideas for running a cribbage club, let alone the entire country.
A third Democrat, David Yankovich, has also announced his candidacy. “Weird Dave” Yankovich is an Ohio resident who moved to the district this spring.
Paul Ryan won his last election by a 35 point margin.
(Oh, and Paul Nehlen is back for another quixotic primary scampaign against Ryan. Evidently he spent all the money he fleeced from his contributors in his last bid and needs to pay the bills for the next two years.)
The La Crosse Tribune revealed a stunning new change in Rep. Ron Kind’s strategy today after multiple stories have been surfaced about the 20-year congressman’s potential 2018 plans.
The Tribune revealed today that Kind plans to hold office hours at various locations within the district in order to connect with constituents. Reports the Tribune:
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind has announced plans to make his staff available to constituents in each of the 18 counties of Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District over the next two weeks.
No doubt, throughout the land triumphant flourishes permeated village squares and Walmart parking lots at the news that Kind’s staff plans to hold office hours on Feb. 28, March 1, March 2, March 3, March 7 – all at various locations throughout the Third congressional district.
Reports of Kind now holding office hours in his district come after questions emerged about his potential run for governor. We speculated about the possibility that he might run for governor and took a look at whether the GOP is planning to seriously target his district in 2018. Is Kind trying to build support for a run for governor, or – more likely – shore up his image as a constituent-connector?
Is holding office hours – a top-flight story in his hometown newspaper – a sign that the congressman has changed strategy in order to emit an appearance of increased constituent relations? Or perhaps it’s a complete coincidence.
The people of Kind’s district, nonetheless, are no doubt honored that their congressman has bestowed upon them an opportunity for even the briefest of hearings, even if the precious opportunity precipitated upon them from on high only upon chatter that the screws might be tightening on his comfortable position in the next election cycle.
Funny how politics works.
The Republican Party could be putting plans in place to give Democratic Congressman Ron Kind the sort of challenge he hasn’t faced in his 20 years in the House.
A fundraising solicitation email from Mark Morgan, executive director of the state Republican Party, pinpointed Kind’s district, the Third congressional district of Wisconsin, as being on the GOP radar. After Trump’s decisive win in rural Wisconsin, Morgan tells supporters:
“…Now we know which House seat is our best shot at a GOP pickup: Wisconsin’s Third District – one of only a handful of Democrat seats carried by Trump in the country.
Of course fundraising solicitations portraying a particular win or loss as hinging on the $20 contribution of some typist or trucker are standard business in politics, so for the state party to imply Ron Kind’s seat hangs in the balance might be tabloid trash that today passes for real reporting, but to those who have been in the game it’s not exactly a shocker.
The email does, however, cite a Journal Sentinel article probing the question of Kind’s conundrum as a flyover Democrat in a Trump congressional district. While the solicitation didn’t specify which article, it may have referred to this one where the Journal Sentinel took a look at each Wisconsin congressional district. It’s worth quoting their analysis of the Third in full:
This is one of just a dozen Democratic House seats in the country carried by Trump last fall. It had been regularly voting Democratic for president. But it saw a huge shift toward the GOP in 2016, part of the massive rural swing that delivered Wisconsin for Trump. Kind was unopposed for Congress by Wisconsin Republicans, who had no real way of knowing what a golden opportunity this blue seat would have been for them in 2016.
In a highly read analysis I posted this weekend, I threw a bit of cold water on the idea that Kind is or will ever be a golden opportunity to Wisconsin Republicans. The article notes, however, that Kind will be under pressure to oppose Trump.
Now it looks like Kind will be highly targeted by the GOP in 2018. The fact that his southwestern Wisconsin district voted for Trump may pressure Kind to look for some common ground across party lines with the president. But Trump’s edge in the district was narrow (just 4 points), and Kind will be pushed by his own party’s voters to oppose the president.
Kind’s dilemma is this: if he vociferously opposes Trump, he alienates an energetic portion of non-ideological populists among his electorate. If he demurs, he ticks off the far left that already thinks he’s squishier than a rotten banana.
If the state GOP follows through on making Kind a target, they’ll join at least one national group called the National Action Network so far that is also running ads against Kind for his support of Obamacare, but there’s no indication whether this is a token shot across the bow or the harbinger of a bigger campaign to come.
Politico also reported that Kind’s district is one of 36 on a list of target districts – districts that Trump won that are held by Democrats.
In his email, Morgan also said:
We need your help to recruit top-notch GOP challengers and give them every resource they will need to defeat DC insiders who have been in Washington too long and have lost touch with everyday Wisconsinites.
That candidate is likely Kind’s 2014 challenger Tony Kurtz. An influx of support from outside the district to match Kind’s Political Action Committee donations could level the playing field and give Kurtz a real shot.
Addendum: a curmudgeonly Facebook commenter pointed out that the opening paragraph should be regarded in error in view of Dan Kapanke’s highly competitive 2010 campaign against which Kind barely held on. We are not in error, and the curmudgeon is wrong. While the RNCC, Kapanke campaign, and other groups assembled a nearly victorious effort against Kind, key here is “nearly”; our lede refers to an unprecedented effort against Kind, one that wins, not one that comes close.