Several GOP candidates who will be running for office in 2012 attended a GOP candidate forum at Central County Airport on Saturday, Oct. 15. The Waupaca County Republican Party hosted the forum.
State Sen. Frank Lasee, R-De Pere, was the only candidate present from those running for the Wisconsin U.S. Senate seat that is being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl. Mark Neumann and Tommy Thompson had representatives on hand to speak to those in attendance.
Lasee said he expects the race for the U.S. Senate seat to be highly competitive in both the primary and the general election.
“Wisconsin is a very competitive state,” Lasee said. “It is going to get a lot of attention from presidential candidates. It’s a must win for Obama. I’m doing this because I’d like to change the climate in Washington.”
In the limited campaigning that Lasee has done so far he said people are most concerned about jobs and the economy. “They are concerned about supporting their families and keeping work going,” Lasee said.
If elected, Lasee said he has five objectives he wants to accomplish in Washington. The first is to balance the U.S. budget without raising taxes.
“It’s imperative that we do it,” Lasee said. “We have to stop overspending, it’s going to bankrupt the country.”
He also said he wants to help create an energy policy that creates more energy with lower costs, rather than increasing costs. Ending the “never ending bureaucratic new rules coming out of Washington” are next are Lasee’s list.
He said the health care plan passed under the Obama administration also has to be repealed because it will add too much expense. The final thing on Lasee’s list is to create and push forward a commission on corruption, fraud, waste and abuse.
On the state level, Sen. Luther Olson, of Ripon, Rep. Kevin Petersen, Waupaca, and Rep. Gary Tauchen, Bonduel, were also on hand to speak.
Olson recently defended his seat in a recall election that he said cost a total of $7.2 million dollars, which was the second most expensive state senate race in Wisconsin history.
Of the proposed recalls of Governor Scott Walker and other GOP representatives in the coming year, Olson said the opposition’s goal “is to stop us from doing anything.”
“And the reason we were being recalled is because we finally did some things that had to be done. The state of Wisconsin had to make some tough decisions,” Olson said. “In Wisconsin we turned our budget around. And anytime you make tough decisions you don’t make people happy. The world is changing and Wisconsin I believe is in a much better position.”
Petersen emphasized that people need to be ready for a barrage of political ads in 2012. He said President Obama expects to raise $1 billion dollars for his campaign, and the Republican candidate is expected to raise more than $750 million.
“If you look into it, there are 13 states in play in the next presidential election with Wisconsin being one of them,” Petersen said. ” … Be ready for advertising like you’ve never seen before.”
Petersen added, “This is all being driven by a higher level and it’s something to remember going into next year’s election, President Obama can’t get re-elected without taking Wisconsin. There will be more outside influences in races over the next year than you’ve ever seen before.”
Tauchen, whose assembly district will cover Clintonville and part of the New London area once the redistricting map passes all its hurdles, said there are still challenges that Wisconsin is facing, but that he feels it is moving in the right direction.
He said he plans on spending more time in his new district in 2012 not only to campaign, but also because he feels it is important to meet the people he will be representing.
“I have a diverse area and I just think it’s good to be representing more than one county because I think that you look at things a little differently,” Tauchen said.
When asked what his new constituents can expect from him, Tauchen said, “I think I’ve always supported conservative, Republican principles, smaller government, fiscal responsibility, cutting spending and cutting taxes. But I’m also progressive. I know that the best way to effect change is to have some stress occasionally. The times we make the major changes are the times we’re the most stressed because we need to restructure and we need to do things differently. It’s good for government to have that happen occasionally too.”