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Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010

Shepherd Express Endorsements

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U.S. Senate

Russ Feingold

This is a brutal election season for incumbents. But not all incumbents are created equal. That’s why we’re supporting Sen. Russ Feingold in his bid for re-election. Feingold has been a strong supporter of progressive causes, like civil liberties, as well as issues that often upset progressives, like gun rights. But Feingold’s take on the issues is a good fit for a moderate, independent state like Wisconsin.

That’s why it’s so disheartening to see Feingold become overshadowed by his Republican rival, Ron Johnson, a political novice and self-funded candidate who has cut himself off from reporters so that he won’t betray his lack of knowledge about the nation’s most pressing issues. Johnson doesn’t seem to think that it matters, since, as he claims, this election isn’t about “details.” Writing good legislation, however, is all about the details.

What we do know is that these men are polar opposites. Feingold is a constitutional expert; Johnson hasn’t done his homework. Feingold supports smaller government and less spending; Johnson is a businessman who has taken advantage of government aid on several occasions but won’t acknowledge its benefits. Feingold supports the recent health care reform since it will provide tax breaks to businesses, clamp down on insurance industry abuses and improve access to health care; Johnson wants to repeal reform and put us right back where we started—allowing for-profit insurance companies to drive up costs and hold businesses and families hostage.

While Johnson may be the Republican on the ballot, he’s not Feingold’s only opponent. National special interest groups have targeted the senator because of his principled stand against runaway campaign spending. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed corporations to take out campaign ads—without disclosing their donors—they’re unleashing a torrent of attack ads against Feingold. If these unaccountable groups win, then clean, truly democratic elections lose.

Feingold has earned another term in the U.S. Senate.

 

U.S. House of Representatives District 4

Gwen Moore

Gwen Moore is a true champion for Milwaukee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Moore is deeply connected to her constituents and thoroughly understands their concerns. Moore has won money from FEMA for residents who were affected by this summer’s flood, fought for veterans, brought funds to the city for health care and transit, and is an outspoken critic of ex-President Bush’s unnecessary wars, which have destroyed too many lives and drained this nation’s economy.

Like many incumbents this year, Moore is facing an aggressive challenge from a tea party candidate. She needs our support so she can continue to work for Milwaukee. Vote for Gwen Moore on Nov. 2 so she can get the job done.

 

Governor

Tom Barrett and Tom Nelson

We wholeheartedly endorse Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett for governor.

There are simply too many important issues that will need to be addressed during the next four years. We trust Barrett to solve those problems in a way that benefits the entire state, not just the state’s wealthiest residents. Also, Barrett is not Jim Doyle, and a Barrett administration would definitely not be a continuation of the Doyle years.

Barrett, along with his running mate, Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson, have proven that they have a detailed plan to turn around the state’s fortunes. Barrett and Nelson want to address the state’s budget deficit with a smart plan to rein in state spending, provide targeted tax breaks to stimulate businesses that hire new employees, and increase investment in infrastructure, research and education. The Democrats value a strong middle class and a strong safety net for those who have been battered by the recent recession. They want Wisconsinites—not politicians—to be in charge of their unique and very personal medical and family-planning decisions. They want scientists—not politicians—to guide their own research. With the right blend of business support and investment in the middle class and working families, a Barrett-led Wisconsin will become a powerhouse in the next decade.

There’s yet another reason to vote for Barrett and Nelson: The Republican gubernatorial ticket of Scott Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch would be a disaster for Wisconsin. Walker’s leadership of Milwaukee County has been a failure. He’s increased spending and taxes over the past seven years, yet even with multimillion-dollar gimmicks and up to 26 unpaid furlough days for county workers this year alone, his 2010 and 2011 budgets still don’t balance. The state was forced to intervene and had to take away some of the county’s responsibilities because he neglected them. And his stewardship of the county has resulted in deaths, sexual assaults and serious debate about whether the county should do the unthinkable: declare bankruptcy. That’s no way to lead the state’s largest county, and it’s definitely not what Wisconsin needs during the next four years.

Instead of relying on misleading campaign ads—especially those from deep-pocketed outside interest groups—voters should compare the candidates’ track records and plans for Wisconsin’s future. They’ll find that Tom Barrett has the best strategy and experience to be Wisconsin’s next governor.

 

Attorney General

Scott Hassett

While the state attorney general is elected on a partisan ballot, those holding that position should be above politics. That’s why we’re endorsing Scott Hassett for attorney general. Unlike the incumbent, J.B. Van Hollen, Hassett is not a party hack. As a sign of Hassett’s ability to rise above partisan politics, even Republican-leaning newspapers like the Wausau Daily Herald and Appleton Post-Crescent have endorsed Hassett for attorney general. Hassett has more than 20 years of experience in the legal profession, and as the former Department of Natural Resources secretary, he ran a much larger, more wide-ranging agency than the Department of Justice. We also prefer Hassett’s view of the role of the attorney general—as the “people’s lawyer.” In contrast, Van Hollen sees the A.G. as the state’s “top cop,” and emphasizes its law enforcement role over its representation of the citizens of Wisconsin. We think voters should cast a ballot for Scott Hassett, a top-notch legal professional who isn’t motivated by politics.

 

Milwaukee County Sheriff

Steven Duckhorn

We think that Republican nominee Steven Duckhorn, a Milwaukee police officer, is a good choice for Milwaukee County sheriff. Milwaukee County needs a sheriff who can work with all state and local law enforcement agencies. Duckhorn will do that. The incumbent, David Clarke, hasn’t. Duckhorn has a thorough understanding of the county’s law enforcement needs, and, unlike Clarke, does not see the position as a way to advance a career in politics. Clarke’s weak showing in the Democratic primary indicates that voters are tired of his constant self-promotion and terrible management style. Duckhorn is more likely to work for Milwaukeeans and respect county residents. We think he deserves your support.

 

State Senate District 5

Jim Sullivan

Sen. Jim Sullivan, a Democrat, won the race to represent this district by beating a far-right-wing Republican, Tom Reynolds, in 2006. Ironically enough, he’s facing another far-right-wing Republican in the mold of Reynolds, state Rep. Leah Vukmir. Vukmir has a horrific voting record that should make any moderate Wisconsinite shudder. Vukmir is known as being a difficult person to work with, unable to respect a differing opinion and find consensus even within the Republican caucus. Even though she’s a nurse, Vukmir has routinely supported measures that promote the interests of for-profit insurance companies while voting against bills that strengthen protections for patients. Vukmir has a “100% pro-life” voting record in the Assembly, which means that she supports legislation that would force victims of rape or incest to give birth to their attacker’s child. When her party was in the majority and could pass legislation, Vukmir pushed a taxpayer’s bill of rights that was so outrageous that Republican Assembly leaders didn’t support it and only 33 lawmakers (out of 99) voted for it. That kind of stunning defeat is rare for a majority party, but Vukmir managed to do it.

In contrast, Sullivan has a much more moderate record that is more in tune with this ideologically mixed district. He’s been a careful steward of the state’s finances, yet he’s supported increased spending for veterans’ services and education. He’s a strong supporter of stem cell and biotechnology research, which is so crucial to the state’s economy. Sullivan also is an expert in health care law, a base of knowledge that will definitely be needed in the coming session. Sullivan serves this district well and has earned a second term.

 

State Senate District 7

Chris Larson

Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson handily defeated the incumbent Democratic state senator, Jeff Plale, in a closely watched primary race. Larson is a much better fit for this East Side district than Plale, and promises to fight for Milwaukee’s transit system, the environment, and working families in Milwaukee and across the state. We believe that Larson is in a good position to defeat his Republican challenger in the general election. But, again, this is a strange year, so Larson cannot do it without your support. Vote for Larson and Milwaukee will have stronger representation in the state Senate.

 

State Senate District 21

John Lehman

State Sen. John Lehman, a moderate Democrat, has definitely earned another term in the Legislature. Lehman is an expert on education and health care, two pressing issues that affect all of us. He’s shown strong support for his Racine district, which has been hit hard by the recession, with targeted tax breaks for businesses that bring jobs to the community. He’s fought for SeniorCare, equal pay for women, and safety net protections that are so necessary right now for struggling families.

However, Lehman faces a tough fight against Racine County Supervisor Van Wanggaard, who is backed by the Republican Party, tea party supporters and out-of-state right-wing monied interests that care more about ideological purity than crafting workable solutions to our state’s problems. Quite simply, Wanggaard is advocating for the same policies that did little to stimulate job growth but ran up high budget deficits—tax breaks for the wealthy and free-market solutions run amok.

Vote for John Lehman, a strong advocate for all of Racine’s residents.

 

Secretary of State

Doug La Follette

While many voters may be scratching their heads about what the secretary of state does, that doesn’t mean that this race should not be taken seriously. Unfortunately, the Republican and tea party candidate for secretary of state, David King, is making a mockery of the position. Tea party darling King, who styles himself as an “apostle,” is founder of “The God Squad” and running an explicitly Christian campaign for this public office. That’s simply wrong in a nation that values its separation of church and state. We are asking voters to support Doug La Follette in his bid for re-election.

 

State Treasurer

Dawn Marie Sass

We like state Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass’ ongoing efforts to help Wisconsin residents to recover unclaimed funds that they possibly didn’t even know they were entitled to. Sass, a former Milwaukee County juvenile justice specialist, has shown that she’s the “people’s treasurer” who’s looking out for taxpayers and business owners. We like her down-to-earth approach to this position and want her to serve another term. Vote for Dawn Marie Sass on Nov. 2.

 

Assembly District 21

Tom Michalski

We believe Tom Michalski would be an excellent representative for this South Shore district. Michalski, the Oak Creek Common Council president, thoroughly knows the needs of this community. He’s simply more in touch with Oak Creek and South Milwaukee residents than the district’s longtime incumbent, Mark Honadel. Michalski is a strong supporter of public education and technical colleges, health care reform that improves access to affordable coverage, and prudent use of public money. Tom Michalski should represent this community in the state Assembly.