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Voter guide – get to know Wisconsin's congressional candidates

By   /   August 13, 2012  /   No Comments

By Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON — Wisconsinites head to the polls Tuesday for the primary election that will decide who will represent the political parties in the November general election. Here’s a snapshot of who’s on the ballot.


Open seat (Democrat Herb Kohl is retiring)


Jeff Fitzgerald

Jeff Fitzgerald, Horicon

Age: 45

More information: Website, http://fitzgeraldforwisconsin.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jeff-Fitzgerald/246749222039602; Twitter, https://twitter.com/JeffFitz2012

Fitzgerald was elected to the state Assembly in 2000 and has been in a leadership position in the chamber since 2005, serving as the Assembly speaker since 2011.

He favors less regulation and a tax policy that is friendlier to businesses. He has pledged to oppose any and all tax increases, if elected to the Senate, and said he will vote against any measures restricting gun rights.

He also would shelve plans to shrink ground forces, grow the U.S. Navy at a faster rate and expand domestic oil and natural gas exploration and drilling.

Eric Hovde

Eric Hovde, Madison

Age: 48

More information: Website, http://www.ericforsenate.com/landing/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/EricforSenate; Twitter, https://twitter.com/EricForSenate

Hovde is the CEO of real estate business Hovde Properties LLC, which was founded by his grandfather. He also is a hedge fund manager. Hovde’s father, Don, was undersecretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Reagan administration.

Hovde’s plans as a U.S. senator include bringing government spending back to 2007 levels, reforming entitlement programs and passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

He has not signed the “no tax increase pledge,” but instead wants to eliminate “all corporate welfare and handouts to special interests,” plus simplify the tax code.

Mark Neumann

Mark Neumann, Nashotah

Age: 58

More information: Website, http://neumann2012.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/markwneumann; Twitter, https://twitter.com/Neumann4WI

Neumann owns and operates a construction business. He also served as a U.S. representative from 1995 to 1999, before an unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid against Russ Feingold in 1998.

Neumann supports repealing President Barack Obama’s health-care reforms, passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, cutting spending by $1.4 trillion and making the tax cuts pushed by former President George W. Bush permanent.

Tommy Thompson

Tommy Thompson, Madison

Age: 70

More information: Website, http://www.tommyforwisconsin.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/tommy.thompson.587; Twitter, https://twitter.com/TommyForWI

Thompson served as governor of Wisconsin from 1987 to 2001, before leaving to serve as Health and Human Services secretary, a position he left in 2005.

As senator, Thompson says, he would repeal Obama’s health-care reforms, but would support insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions and broaden coverage for the uninsured.

Thompson supports U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, including reducing the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, and says he would propose restricting tax receipts to 18.5 percent of the gross domestic product. He supports keeping the Bush tax cuts, exempting all households making $100,000 or less from capital gains taxes, and repealing federal taxes on Social Security benefits.


Tammy Baldwin

Tammy Baldwin, Madison

Age: 50

More information: Website, http://www.tammybaldwin.com/splash/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/TammyBaldwin; Twitter, https://twitter.com/TammyBaldwinWI

Baldwin has served in Congress since 1998, but is giving up her seat to pursue the U.S. Senate position.

Baldwin supports cutting subsidies to large corporations, bringing troops home from Afghanistan and requiring that Medicare negotiate with prescription drug companies.

She opposes Ryan’s budget plan, including the provisions that partially privatize Medicare and Social Security.




Rob Zerban

Rob Zerban, Kenosha

Age: 44

More information: Website, http://www.robzerban.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/RobZerban?ref=ts; Twitter, https://twitter.com/robzerban

A former businessman, Zerban also has served on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Conservation League and as a Kenosha County board supervisor.

He supports 12-year term limits for all members of Congress: six, two-year terms for House members and two, six-year terms for U.S. senators.

Zerban says that, as a congressman, he would oppose free trade agreements and back changes to the tax code that encourage jobs to stay in the United States.

He wants to lift the cap on taxable income for Social Security and would allow Medicare to negotiate for prescription drugs.


Paul Ryan

(Incumbent) Paul Ryan, Janesville

Age: 42

More information: Website, http://www.ryanforcongress.com/Home.aspx; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/reppaulryan; Twitter, https://twitter.com/RepPaulRyan

Ryan has served in Congress since 1998. On Saturday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney tapped Ryan to be his running mate.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan is best known for his “Roadmap to America” budget proposal, which would include private accounts for Social Security and vouchers for Medicare.

He said he also will continue to fight to ensure China is playing by the rules and not “stealing” American jobs, and he pledges to stop tax increases.



Open seat (vacated by Baldwin)


Dennis Hall

Dennis Hall, Cambridge

Age: 63

More information: Website, http://hall4congress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/hall2congress; Twitter, https://twitter.com/Hall2Congress

Hall is a cyber and electronic security consultant who has served as president of the Janesville City Council, executive director for the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities and legislative services coordinator for the Wisconsin Counties Association.

He also is a Vietnam veteran who served with the U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1971.

Hall says economic recovery begins not only with investing in the country’s infrastructure, but elderly housing and quality day care centers as well. He supports preserving grant and loan programs for higher education students, but also wants to makes higher education more affordable.

He says bipartisanship is key and supports bipartisan deficit reduction plans, similar to the Simpson-Bowles proposal.

Mark Pocan, Madison

Mark Pocan

Age: 48 (on Tuesday)

More information: Website, http://pocanforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MarkPocan; Twitter, https://twitter.com/MarkPocan

Pocan has been a member of the state Assembly since 1998.

Pocan supports using stimulus money to create jobs and bolster the economy; allowing the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans to expire; cutting the defense budget to reduce the deficit; and raising capital gains taxes.

He supports the re-regulation of the financial industry and measures to assist people with foreclosures and helping homeowners renegotiate home loans.

Pocan wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and end the war in Afghanistan.

Kelda Helen Roys

Kelda Helen Roys, Madison

Age: 33

More information: Website, http://www.keldaforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/keldaroys; Twitter, https://twitter.com/keldahelenroys

Roys is a lawyer who has been a member of the state Assembly since 2008.

She supports repairing roads and bridges and pushing for more broadband connectivity and energy independence through clean, sustainable energy production.

Roys supports Obama’s health-care reforms and says the United States needs to move toward a universal, single-payer health-care system.

As a member of Congress, she would close tax loop holes, lower taxes for low-income Americans and repeal the Bush tax breaks for households that earn more than $250,000 annually.

Matt Silverman

Matt Silverman, Madison

Age: 30

More information: Website, http://silvermanforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Matt4Congress; Twitter, https://twitter.com/Matt4Congress

Silverman served in the U.S. Army, including time in Iraq, after 2004, and has been a member of the U.S. Army Reserves since 2008.

Silverman is not taking any endorsements or money from organizations and is relying on individual contributions.

As a congressman, Silverman would fund a $50 billion infrastructure bank, eliminate the corporate income tax and include vocational education as part of welfare, unemployment and veterans’ programs.

He would eliminate all tax exemptions and deductions; add tax brackets at the $1 million, $5 billion and $10 million income levels; and tax capital gains as income.


Chad Lee

Chad Lee, Mount Horeb

Age: 29

More information: Website, http://chadleeforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ChadLeeCongress; Twitter, https://twitter.com/ChadLeeCongress

Lee is an entrepreneur, currently focusing on a technology project.

If elected to Congress, Lee would support limited government and free-market, balanced-budget approaches.

He would vote to repeal Obama’s health-care reforms and opposes the expansion of Medicaid.




Ron Kind

(Incumbent) Ron Kind, La Crosse

Age: 49

More information: Website, http://www.ronkind.org/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/RonKindWI; Twitter, https://twitter.com/RepRonKind

Kind has been a member of Congress since 1997.

Kind’s economic proposals include improving the terms for small-business loan guarantees and making it easier for small-business owners to borrow money.

He supports banning budget earmarks for for-profit companies, and wants to reform agricultural subsidies.


Ray Boland

Ray Boland, Sparta

Age: 74

More information: Website, http://www.bolandforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/RayBolandForCongress; Twitter, https://twitter.com/RaymondBoland

Boland served as garrison commander of Fort McCoy from 1988 to 1991, before retiring as a colonel and taking on the role of secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

He says balancing the federal budget is the starting point for fixing the country’s economic problems. He also wants to help Ryan reform Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs.

Boland sees the growth of Fort McCoy as key to improving the region’s economy, including supporting Fort McCoy as a place to station an active duty brigade combat team permanently. The growth of Fort McCoy, he says, would support hundreds more civilian jobs in the region.




Gwen Moore

(Incumbent) Gwen Moore, Milwaukee

Age: 62

More information: Website, http://www.gwenmooreforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/GwenSMoore; Twitter, https://twitter.com/RepGwenMoore

Moore has represented Wisconsin in Congress since 2005.

She supports finding ways to ensure that people in need have affordable health care and enough funding to provide quality education.

She also supports granting waivers that will give states more flexibility in implementing Temporary Aid for Needy Families programs.


Dan Sebring

Dan Sebring, Milwaukee

Age: 55

More information: Website, http://dansebringforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dan-Sebring-for-US-Congress/209647595756813; Twitter, https://twitter.com/NoMoore2012

A U.S. Navy veteran and owner of Sebring Garage LLC, Sebring is running against Moore for the third time. He ran as a write-in candidate in 2008 and was the Republican candidate in 2010.

Sebring supports passing the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, and wants the United States to encourage exports to Asia and Europe, including reaching an agreement with the European Union to eliminate all tariffs on goods trade.

He wants the Keystone XL pipeline to be approved and says speeding up infrastructure projects would help strengthen the economy.

He supports Herman Cain’s 9-9-9- tax plan.




Dave Heaster

Dave Heaster, Sussex

More information: Website, http://www.20dave12.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/dave.heaster; Twitter, https://twitter.com/20dave12

Heaster says no government program should be proposed without a corresponding cut in spending or an increase in taxes to pay for it.

As congressman, he would require any company that sells products in the United States to meet the same standards as companies that make products within the United States, including minimum wage and environmental standards.

Regarding military action, Heaster said he would never vote for a resolution that put a single American on the line for a cause, resource or ideology.


Jim Sensenbrenner

(Incumbent) Jim Sensenbrenner, Menomonee Falls

Age: 69

More information: Website, http://sensenbrenner.org/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/pages/James-Sensenbrenner/114572521891749; Twitter, https://twitter.com/RpSensenbrenner

Sensenbrenner has been a member of Congress since 1979.

He supports limited government and reduced government spending.

Sensenbrenner also is pro-life and anti-tax.




Joe Kallas

Joe Kallas, Princeton

Age: 62

More information: Website, http://www.kallas4congress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/joe.kallas.98; Twitter, https://twitter.com/kallas6th

Retired from teaching courses at the Fox Lake Correctional Institution, Kallas ran against Tom Petri for the first time in 2010.

Kallas supports universal health care and proposes that all Americans have the same health-care coverage as members of Congress. He suggests a possible payroll deduction, similar to Social Security, as a possible way to fund the health-care program.


Tom Petri

(Incumbent) Tom Petri, Fond du Lac

Age: 72

More information: Website, http://www.petripeople.org/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/thomaspetri

Petri has served in Congress since 1979.

He supports lowering the tax rates for capital gains and dividend incomes, and extending the Bush tax cuts. He wants to strengthen the earned income tax credit as well.

He voted for Ryan’s budget proposals twice and supports a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Lauren Stephens

Lauren Stephens, Beloit

Age: 47

More information: Website, http://laurenforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/lauren.stephens.congress; Twitter, https://twitter.com/Lauren4Congress

Stephens is the founder and former executive director of the Conservative Wisconsin Political Action Committee, and she pledges not to be bought by special interests.

If elected to Congress, Stephens would propose rolling back congressional pay to 2003 levels and read every piece of legislation brought to her.

She says Social Security and help for the disabled is not the problem, but fraud, waste and abuse in government programs is the problem.




Pat Kreitlow

Pat Kreitlow, Chippewa Falls

Age: 48

More information: Website, http://www.kreitlowforcongress.com/index.html; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/KreitlowforCongress; Twitter, https://twitter.com/PatKreitlow

Kreitlow is a former news anchor and state senator.

He opposes plans to privatize Social Security or reduce benefits, and he wants to strengthen Medicare as well.

He says the United States needs to toughen its stance on China’s currency manipulation, and he pledges to make renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement an early priority of his first term.

Kreitlow also wants to limit corporations’ financial influence on elections.


Sean Duffy

(Incumbent) Sean Duffy, Weston

Age: 41

More information: Website, http://www.duffyforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/RepSeanDuffy; Twitter, https://twitter.com/RepSeanDuffy

Duffy is finishing up his first term in Congress.

As a member of Congress, he wants to cut taxes and limit regulations for small businesses.

His health-care proposals include eliminating discrimination against people who have pre-existing conditions seeking health insurance. He also supports reforming tort laws to lower malpractice premium costs.




Jamie Wall

Jamie Wall, Green Bay

Age: 41

More information: Website, http://www.wallforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/wallforcongress; Twitter, https://twitter.com/WallForCongress

Wall is a business consultant who unsuccessfully fought in the Democratic primary for this seat in 2006.

He would end tax breaks for companies sending jobs overseas and encourage companies to hire veterans.

Wall says investing in new technologies is the means to create jobs in the coming years.

As congressman, he would extend the Milk Income Loss Contract, support trade agreements that help Wisconsin farmers and fight for incentives to encourage business and industry expansion in rural areas.


Reid Ribble

(Incumbent) Reid Ribble, Appleton

Age: 66

More information: Website, http://www.ribbleforcongress.com/; Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/CongressmanReidRibble; Twitter, https://twitter.com/RepRibble

A former business owner, Ribble was elected to Congress for the first time in 2010.

Ribble proposes a moratorium that would prevent the federal government from finalizing new regulations for a set amount of time.

He supports a budget plan that cuts $5 trillion from government spending, and he would repeal Obama’s health-care reforms.