GOP Lawmakers Face Off In Race To Replace Tom Petri

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GOP Lawmakers Face Off In Race To Replace Tom Petri

Premiere Date: 
June 6, 2014

The three candidates will face off August 12 in the 6th CD Republican primary.

 

Episode Transcript: 

Frederica Freyberg:

Now to election news. Republican representative Tom Petri has served the 6th Congressional District since 1979, but he announced he would not run shortly after being challenged in the GOP primary. Now three Republicans are fighting for that nomination, including two state senators and a state assemblyman. "Here and Now”’s Zac Schultz introduces us to the Republican primary candidates.

Zac Schultz:

Just a few months ago, Representative Tom Petri looked like a solid favorite to get re-elected to a 18th term in congress. But things changed swiftly when state senator Glenn Grothman announced he would challenge Petri in a Republican primary.

Glenn Grothman:

I was frustrated with the lack of progress in Washington, and to a degree, the lack of aggressiveness by the Republicans on certain issues.

Zac Schultz:

A week later, Congressman Petri announced he would not run again, although he said it had nothing to do with having a primary challenger. But now the 6th Congressional was an open seat. A day later, state representative Duey Stroebel got in the race.

Duey Stroebel:

I'm in this race because I think Washington right now is a mess, and I think we've left it up too long to career politicians to manage our business.

Zac Schultz:

Ten days after that, state senator Joe Leibham announced.

Joe Leibham:

I think that our nation is in a bit of decline. And I want to give my time, talent, interest in public service to try to restore the greatness of America.

Zac Schultz:

Congressman Petri is known as a quiet, moderate Republican, something his challengers say is outdated in today's Washington DC. 

Duey Stroebel:

I just didn't think he was the leader that we needed there, nor was he conservative enough.

Glenn Grothman:

It seemed to me that if I could defeat Congressman Petri, I could change what the Republicans were doing in Washington, or try to change that.

Zac Schultz:

The 6th Congressional runs from Lake Michigan in the east, around Lake Winnebago, all the way to central Wisconsin in the west. The 6th leans Republican. Congressman Petri usually won in a blowout. In 2012 Mitt Romney beat President Obama by seven points. All three contenders hold office in the 6th, with Senator Leibham in the east, Grothman in the south and Representative Stroebel in Senator Grothman's district. There is a slight difference on what policy issues they'd want to work on first.

Duey Stroebel:

I think we need a balanced budget amendment to our constitution.

Joe Leibham:

The big concern that I have is the fiscal mess that's confronting our nation on Washington DC. 

Glenn Grothman:

Our welfare is out of control, resulting in destruction of our work ethic and destruction of the family. You look at Affirmative Action and the preferences based on race and sex. The Republicans don't seem to be doing anything about it.

Zac Schultz:

The contenders all describe themselves as conservative.

Joe Leibham:

I am a Conservative. If people look at my record, my personality, my philosophy, I’m a true Conservative.

Glenn Grothman:

I think I'm going to be the most conservative of the congressmen in Wisconsin right now.

Zac Schultz:

Representative Stroebel has the least experience in government. His background is in real estate development. He was first elected to the assembly during a special election in 2011, and wasn't even  around for the controversial Act 10 debates. But he views himself as a citizen-legislator.

Duey Stroebel:

I feel that I set myself apart very well in that regard. And that, you know, Joe's been in government since 1997, gone since 1993. They're career politicians, and they do this for a living. I don't, and I think that makes a difference.

Glenn Grothman:

I think it's a comparison of messages. I think Joe Leibham is much more similar to Congressman Petri. I think Duey Stroebel has tackled some issues. But I think if you look at the breadth of issues I've tackled, as well as the fact that I got out there in front and said that we needed a change from Congressman Petri. It makes me different than the others. I think I should be the one who's given a chance to carry that conservative message.

Joe Leibham:

I want people to vote for me not against my opponent.

Zac Schultz:

Senator Leibham says he wants to run as Joe, and did not want to talk about his opponents or Congressman Petri.

Joe Leibham:

I don't worry about a comparison. He's a separate individual. I think he served our district and our area well. But I'm Joe Leibham, and  I bring a new personality, a  new energy, a strong conservative background and record to the residents of the 6th Congressional District.

Zac Schultz:

In today’s political environment it's not enough for an old school moderate like Tom Petri to simply vote with his party. Many voters want an extra helping of partisan sincerity, something each candidate is trying to prove they can provide.

Glenn Grothman:

And the fact that I was willing to take on Congressman Petri while the others waited, particularly Senator Leibham has, does show that I sincerely believe we need changes in Madison. I think my record in the senate and my getting in first does show that sincerity that I hope the voters appreciate.

Duey Stroebel:

I was seriously undertaking a challenge to Congressman Petri long before he said that he was not going to run again. If the sincerity is who challenged him first, I was out there before Glenn.

Zac Schultz:

Senator Leibham says his sincerity is shown in giving up his seat in the legislature to run for congress. Representative Duey Stroebel is doing the same. However, Senator Grothman is not up for election this fall and will only have to give up his seat if he wins.

Joe Leibham:

I'm giving up my senate seat. That record, that background, along with a personality that I think works and is pleasing to the residents of the 6th Congressional District. 


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