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Sen. Kathleen Vinehout Joins Democrat Race for Wisconsin Governor

Wisconsin State Sen. Kathleen-Vinehout - running for Wisconsin Governor as Democrat
Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout

Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout announced Monday that she will not seek re-election to her state senate seat next year. Instead, she will join the crowded Democratic field seeking to challenge GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2018.

Democrats will have a challenging race to hold onto Sen. Vinehout’s seat in the Wisconsin 31st Senate District next year.

Vinehout, of Alma, worked as a college professor and dairy farmer before seeking elective office. She was first elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2006.

RELATED: State Sen. Kwame Raoul Announces Illinois AG Run, Vows to Defy Trump on Immigration if Elected.

She ran unsuccessfully for Wisconsin governor in the Democratic primary during the failed 2012 recall election against Scott Walker.

The August 2018 Democrat primary will determine who will face Walker in November.

Other Democrats running in the governor’s primary race are Tony Evers, a state school superintendent; Andy Gronik, a businessperson from Milwaukee; Dana Wachs, the state Representative of Eau Claire and Mike McCabe, an activist.

Vinehout said in a statement that she is running for governor to turn the state’s priorities upside down.

“I am running for Governor to turn the state’s priorities upside down, to put people first, at the center of state policy and the top priority when it comes to spending the state’s dollars. My vision is very different from where the state is today,” she said during her announcement on Monday.

She said Gov. Walker and Republican lawmakers have given too much to corporations and too little to schools and local governments.

Vinehout cited the $3 billion incentive package Walker negotiated with Foxconn Technology Group to bring a flat screen plant and thousands of jobs to Racine County, WI.

“When looking to build, relocate or expand in a state, company after company emphasizes they look for good schools, skilled workers, a transportation network, safe streets, efficient local services, clean air and water, recreation opportunities, and cultural amenities,” Vinehout said. “That is where we should be spending the public’s tax dollars.”

“My campaign is about investing in human potential, about cultivating our communities so everyone in them can live a better life. That means investing in health care, public education, our environment, alternatives to incarceration, and a living wage,” Vinehout added.

“I am running for Governor to turn the state’s priorities upside down, to put people first, at the center of state policy and the top priority when it comes to spending the state’s dollars. My vision is very different from where the state is today,” she said during her announcement on Monday.

Wisconsin Republican Party spokesperson Alec Zimmerman noted that Vinehout was one of the 14 senators who drove to Illinois in 2011 in an unsuccessful attempt to block a vote on Walker’s repeal of most collective bargaining for most public workers.

Vinehout also supported unsuccessful legislation in 2007 to raise taxes by roughly $15 billion in exchange for making health care available to everyone in the state. Zimmerman said that Vinehout wants to “take us back to the days when she authored the largest tax increase in state history.”

SEE ALSO: Gallup Poll: Americans favor Democratic Party over GOP.

Kathleen Vinehout, 59, followed her dream over two and half decades ago when she started her own dairy farm in rural Buffalo County, milking 50 cows in an old red barn with tie stalls. The farm is now certified organic and produces hay and grain.

She came into politics late in her career. In 2006, she ran for State Senate and beat a popular Republican incumbent in a mostly rural district. She has been re-elected twice.

In the Senate, she has worked to make health care affordable, bring more equity to school funding, and find alternatives to incarceration. As a member of the audit committee, she has overseen the evaluation of state programs and has sought to make the state run more efficiently. In each of the last four budget cycles, she has written alternative budgets that reflect the different choices that she would have made with the money available.

Some of these choices include making all technical colleges and two-year UW campuses free for Wisconsin residents, expanding Badgercare to cover 79,000 more people, healing the deep cuts to our university system, and adding $100 million to fund broadband across the state.

Before entering politics, Kathleen taught in and directed the Health Service Administration program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Before that, she directed the education department at the Visiting Nurses Association in St. Louis. She has graduate degrees in Health Services Research and Public Health and an associate degree in Agriculture.

Growing up, her family often had problems making ends meet. Her dad was a construction worker and a member of the Laborers’ International Union. Her mom was a nurse. Both served in the Air Force during the Korean War. When she was a farmer, her family struggled for nearly two years without health insurance.

Today, Kathleen still lives on her farm with her husband, Doug, and son Nathan. In her spare time, she enjoys her two horses: Vana and Rosie and her cat, Rustle.

The Democratic primary could get more crowded. Other potential candidates expected to join the race include Matt Flynn, a Milwaukee attorney and former state party chairman, Madison Mayor, Paul Soglin and Kelda Helen Roys, a former state Representative from Madison.



Contributor, The Liberal Advocate News




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