Commentary: Voters need to know who they’re voting for Aug. 14
By Gene Kemmeter
Portage County will hold a countywide partisan primary election Tuesday, Aug. 14, to select the candidates for the Nov. 6 general election. Partisan means voters may only vote for candidates of one party. There is no shifting between parties.
The candidates will be for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, state treasurer, U.S. senator, U.S. representative in District 3, the Assembly representatives in Districts 70, 71 and 72, and the county offices of sheriff and clerk of Circuit Court.
The Democratic primary for governor has eight candidates seeking the party’s nomination. They include state public education superintendent Tony Evers, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, former Wisconsin Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe, former Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Matt Flynn, firefighter and union head Mahlon Mitchell, businessman Josh Pade, former state Rep. Kelda Roys, D-Madison, and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. Two other candidates are on the ballot, but have dropped out of the race, Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik and state Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire.
Incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker is being challenged in the primary by Robert Meyer of Sun Prairie. Also on the ballot are Michael White of the Green Party, independent Maggie Turnbull, Phil Anderson of the Libertarian Party and Arnie Enz of the Wisconsin Party.
Mandela Barnes of Milwaukee and Kurt Kober of Sheboygan are seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. The other candidates are incumbent Republican Rebecca Kleefisch, Patrick Baird of the Libertarian Party from Madison, independent Wil Losch of Rhinelander and Tiffany Anderson of the Green Party from Cudahy.
The attorney general candidates are incumbent Republican Brad Schimel; Democrat Josh Kaul, a Madison attorney; and Terry Larson of the Constitution Party.
The secretary of state race has two candidates for the Democratic nomination and two for the Republican nomination. The Democrats are incumbent Doug La Follett and Arvina Martin of Madison; and the Republicans are Jay Schroeder of Neenah and Spencer Zimmerman of Janesville. The Green Party candidate is Brad Karas of Janesville.
The treasurer position also has a race, with three Democrats and two Republicans seeking the nomination. Candidates for the Democrats are Sarah Godlewski, Madison; Cynthia Kaump, Madison, and former state Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass, Belleville. The Republican candidates are Travis Hartwig, Oak Creek, and Jill Millies, Big Bend. Also running is Andrew Zuelke of the Constitution Party.
In the U.S. Senate race, five Republicans are seeking the nomination to face incumbent U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., in November. They include state Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield; businessman Kevin Nicholson of Pewaukee; Charles Barman of Delavan; Griffin Jones of Madison; and George Lucia of De Pere.
For District 3 the candidates are incumbent Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Republican Steve Toft.
In the Portage County Assembly races, incumbent Republican Nancy Lynn VanderMeer and Democrat Cari Fay are the candidates in District 70; incumbent Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, is the lone candidate in District 71; and incumbent Republican Scott S. Krug and Democrat David Gorski are the candidates in District 72.
Incumbent Sheriff Mike Lukas and Clerk of Circuit Court Lisa M. Roth, both Democrats, are the lone candidates for those offices.
Absentee ballots are available, and absentee voting ends between Wednesday, Aug. 8, and Friday, Aug. 10. Contact the municipal clerk to obtain the ballot or check the Portage County website at www.co.portage.wi.us/department/county-clerk/election-information. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14.
Voters have a duty as an American to vote, yet they often neglect it, as voter turnout sags well below the 50 percent mark. Some say they don’t vote because they’re going to be gone, especially with the summer vacation period, or they don’t like the candidates.
In this era of declining newspaper presence, including the lack of candidate advertising, voters usually have only the internet to turn to for information about the candidates. Use a reputable website for the information, such as an established news source. And make sure you get out to vote.