Democratic candidates for Wisconsin governor talk issues at public forum

The election to decide Wisconsin’s governor isn’t for another year, but voters are getting an early look at the candidates who hope to challenge Scott Walker in 2018.

The La Crosse chapter of “Our Wisconsin Revolution” hosted a forum for some of the candidates hoping to win the Democratic nomination Monday night.

Six candidates got a chance to introduce themselves to prospective voters and talk about a number of issues they say are facing the state right now.

“My number one issue is really three issues — we’ve got to get back to making sure that we’ve got family-sustaining, good paying jobs throughout the state of Wisconsin; we’ve got to get back to making sure public schools are the best choice for our kids; (and) we’ve got to make sure everybody’s got affordable access to healthcare,” said Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik.

Mike McCabe thinks Madison could use an overhaul, and that starts at the top.

“To me, the big thing is inequality, both economic and political,” said McCabe. “We’ve got a government that works really well for a wealthy and well-connected and privileged few and ignores the wishes of most of the population. We’ve got to shake up and transform that system so that we get our government working for all of us, and not just a privileged few.”

A spokesman for State Representative Dana Wachs, who was unable to attend the forum, agrees.

“Dana Wachs is running for Governor because Madison and career politicians like Scott Walker have been dictating to the rest of the state for far too long and have very little to show for it,” said Wachs senior advisor Pat Kreitlow. “Representative Wachs believes that there are good people, good ideas, good voices all around Wisconsin that should be listened to.”

Bob Harlow says he thinks Walker and his policies have divided the state.

“Traveling our state, I know that we have a lot more in common than divides us, and it’s time for us to come together around a vision of prosperity for Wisconsin that we share,” said Harlow.

Improving education in the state was another common goal for the candidates at the forum. State Superintendent Tony Evers is running with that as one of his main goals, but says his campaign isn’t limited to just that.

“That’s my main wheelhouse, but also I have to say revitalizing the middle class and making sure we have good environmental protections in place in the state of Wisconsin,” said Evers.

Jeff Rumbaugh says the environment is his main reason for running.

“My biggest concern is fresh water,” said Rumbaugh. “Wisconsin’s economy (is) a tourist-driven ecnonomy, it’s a large fishing industry, it’s something that brings Wisconsin together, and without fresh water, many things will collapse.”

Like Wachs, State Senator Kathleen Vinehout was also unable to attend the forum on Monday night, but did send a representative on her behalf.

According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, a total of 20 Democrats and Independents have filed paperwork to register their campaign.