87th Assembly District race is one to watch…

Over the telephone earlier today, I was learning the finer points of taking a chicken to market-ready status from Dana Schultz of Athens, the Democratic Party’s 87th Assembly District candidate who is challenging Rep. Mary Williams (R-Medford).  This is going to be a very interesting race because Williams has had extremely close contests in her last two outings and the Schultz campaign looks like a high-energy operation that will keep the pedal to the metal until November.  Prior to the last re-districting, Democrat Marty Reynolds was carrying the 87th with gaudy landslide victories of 65 and 70 percent of the vote. 

After graduating from Newman High School in Wausau as a standout student and athlete, Schultz went to UWM on a Division 1 basketball scholarship.  Now she’s back on the farm with a Master’s Degree in political science and she’s anxious to put her rural roots together with her graduate degree to work in the public policy arena of the state legislature. 

The sprawling 87th includes Taylor, Rusk and Price counties, with a small piece of northwestern Marathon.  With an open governor’s race, an open seat congressional race, State Sen. Russ Decker and U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold all up for election, the voters should be out in November and this looks to be one of relatively few races in Wisconsin where state Dems seem to have a very legtimate shot at a picking up a seat.

* * *

State Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer of the 25th Assembly District that includes Manitowoc has decided to run as an Independent in this fall’s race instead of as a Democrat, which he has done since 1992.  That part of the Lakeshore area is one that I’ve always described as one where you have to “talk like a Republican and run as a Democrat.”  Ziegelbauer, who is also Manitowoc County Executive, has always done that.  As the Joe Lieberman of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Ziegelbauer has regularly broken ranks with the Dems over the years; particularly on business issues.  He was stripped of his Ways and Means Committee chairmanship by Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan in the last session after a procedural vote in which he sided with the GOP on an abortion amendment to the budget which was ruled not germane. 

 There was already another Democrat running for the seat this time around so Ziegelbauer would have had a September primary if he hadn’t jumped off the donkey.  Kerry Trask, who is on the teaching staff at UW-Manitowoc, might have been able to make a more convincing case to the party faithful in a primary.  It remains to be seen what that will mean in November and whether Ziegelbauer will be handicapped by abandoning party affiliation.  Although Ziegelbauer has won plenty of elections, he was unable to win the Manitowoc Mayoral race vs. Kevin Crawford while attempting to launch his political career.  Since then, he’s become a household name with his two high-profile political roles. 

The City of Manitowoc may again hold the key to whether Ziegelbauer holds his seat in November and it’s a wild card.  The city raised eyebrows by electing 22-year-old Justin Nickels to be mayor last year, after Crawford decided to end his lengthy run in office to pursue private sector employment following 21 years at the helm.

JR

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