Kevin Kuehl hopes voters will give him a second chance to have his name placed on the ballot.
The candidate needs about 400 write-in votes in the Democratic Party primary Tuesday, Aug. 14, in order to qualify under state law for inclusion on November’s general election ballot.
Kuehl is running to represent the 40th District in the state Assembly.
He told the County Post West that his name is not on the ballot due to an oversight.
“We started off in the normal way, collecting the signatures we needed,” Kuehl said. “We thought we had everything in to Madison the week the papers were due.”
Kuehl said that after the documents were filed, he went to visit his parents in Colorado. When he returned, he discovered that his declaration of candidacy needed to be notarized. It was too late to correct the error.
“We must now get just under 400 write-in votes in the Democratic primary to get on the ballot,” Kuehl said.
In the Aug. 14 partisan primary, voters must indicate their party of choice and only vote for candidates of that party.
The only contested races on the ballot will be in the Republican primary,
Four candidates – Tommy Thompson, Eric Hovde, Mark Neumann and Jeff Fitzgerald – are vying for the Republican nomination to run for the U.S. Senate. In the 14th Senate District, David Wayne Eiler is seeking to unseat incumbent state Sen. Luther Olsen.
Under Wisconsin law, a candidate can appear on the general election ballot if he receives write-in votes equal to at least 5 percent of the votes cast in his district for his party’s gubernatorial candidate in the last general election.
In the 2010 race for governor, the Democratic candidate Tom Barrett received 7,072 votes in Waupaca County, compared to Scott Walker’s 10,596. At that time, most of the 40th Assembly District was contained within Waupaca County. The eastern part of New London and Hortonville, which are in Outagamie County, were also in the district.
Including the areas outside of Waupaca County, Kuehl must garner at least 396 write-in votes to qualify for the general election ballot.
According to the new state legislative district map, the 40th Assembly District now covers part of Waushara County and no longer includes the city of Clintonville and the towns of Bear Creek and Lebanon. Fremont has also been moved into the 40th Assembly District.
If Kuehl manages to receive enough write-in votes on Aug. 14, he will still need to overcome the district’s strong Republican history.
Republican State Rep. Kevin Petersen is running for his fourth term.
In his first race for the seat in 2006, Petersen received 10,430 votes and his Democratic opponent, Dan Naylor, received 9,380 votes. Petersen’s 5.4 percent margin of victory was the closest a Democrat has come to taking Waupaca County’s Assembly seat.
In 2008 with high voter turnout for the presidential election, Kuehl challenged Petersen and lost by a 16.6 percent margin. Petersen received 14,741 votes to Kuehl’s 10,5378. That same year, then-U.S. Sen. Barrack Obama carried Waupaca County with 50.85 percent of the vote.
In 2010, Petersen defeated Democrat Jon Baltmanis by 12,749 votes to 5,682 votes, a margin of 38.4 percent.
“I think Jon Baltmanis got the brunt of the Tea Party reaction,” Kuehl said. “The whole country was deluged with anti-Obama sentiment and Democrats lost ground everywhere.”
In assessing the 2012 election, Kuehl believes that Wisconsin voters will be less favorable to Republican candidates.
“There is more awareness now that what Republicans are doing is not good for the country,” Kuehl said. “The entire focus of the Republican Party has been to make Obama a one-term president. Their only issue has been to cut taxes for the wealthy even though the wealthy are paying less taxes now than they ever have.”
When asked about this year’s unsuccessful attempt to recall Gov. Scott Walker, Kuehl pointed to June 5 exit polls showing that while the majority of Wisconsin voters opposed recalling the governor, an even larger majority supported Obama’s re-election.
Kuehl argued that the issues behind the recall go beyond the elimination of collective bargaining for public sector workers.
“It’s not just about collective bargaining, but how our state institutions are not being funded so that we have enough qualified people to do the job,” Kuehl said.
Kuehl said inadequate funding “doesn’t just hurt the workers at the veterans home in King, it hurts the veterans who live there.”
Kuehl also noted that slashing the state budget and cutting public sector jobs has not helped Wisconsin’s economy.
“When your economy is in a crisis, the last thing you want to do is start cutting jobs and giving handouts to corporations,” Kuehl said. “Tax breaks for business do not create jobs; consumer demand for goods and services creates jobs. When you cut jobs in the public sector, when there are fewer teachers and nurses buying from local stores, you’re only making the economy worse for everybody.”