The Democrats are hoping to regain the 7th Congressional District seat they lost last year following Dave Obey’s retirement, and Pat Kreitlow believes he’s the right man for the job.
In 2010, Republican Sean Duffy beat Democrat Julie Lassa to win the open 7th Congressional District seat held for more than 40 years by Obey. In 2012, Democrat Pat Kreitlow hopes to take it back. Kreitlow, who lost his Eau Claire area state Senate seat in 2010, made a campaign stop to the Rhinelander area Tuesday afternoon. Among other subjects, Kreitlow touched on the importance of workers’ rights, one of dominant themes in Madison since he left the State Capitol, and the basis behind the current recall effort of Gov. Scott Walker.
“We are reasserting a fundamental truth about work and workers,” says Kreitlow. “The Democratic Party is the party of the American worker.”
Kreitlow, a former television news anchor with Channel 13 in Eau Claire before entering the political realm, said he decided to run for the congressional seat following Duffy’s vote to support the federal budget largely authored by fellow Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan.
“That vote told me all I needed to know about Sean Duffy’s lack of an independent stance in representing northern Wisconsin,” said Kreitlow. “He falls lock step in with Ryan, and not the predominantly working class people that live in the northern part of this state. Duffy offered himself up as an independent during his campaign, but since he’s gotten in, he’s only done the Tea Party’s bidding.”
Kreitlow said the biggest difference political difference between him and Duffy is Kreitlow’s interest in going across the aisle to compromise and work together with Republicans.
“My philosophy as a politician has always been ‘open door, open mind,'” said Kreitlow. “Our elected leaders need to work together to solve this nation’s problems. That’s all anyone should want.”
Kreitlow said one of the biggest portions of his political platform will be to seek legislation that will put people back to work. He said Duffy ran on a similar platform, but he hasn’t seen any jobs plan come out of Duffy or any other Republican Congressman that doesn’t center on a “trickle-down economic theory.”
“The only plan that the Tea Party Congress seems to want to employ is to hand money and tax breaks to big industry, in the hope that those businesses will turn around and invest those funds in industry growth and increased workforce,” said Kreitlow. “That plan didn’t work 25 years ago when Ronald Reagan tried it, and it isn’t working now.”
Kreitlow first ran for office as a State Senator in 2006 following a long career as a radio and television journalist. He said that, while his role as a journalist required him to remain outwardly objective, he became increasingly internally frustrated watching the political system in this country, he said, “fall apart”.
“I just felt like I couldn’t be silent anymore. People need two parties that can actually work together and then they can actually make some progress on economic recovery and job creation for the short term and long term,” he said. “The people elected in 2010 have never gotten out of campaign mode.”
Kreitlow served four years in the State Senate before being caught up in the contentious 2010 election that served as a unofficial mandate of former Governor Jim Doyle’s time in office, and of President Barak Obama’s first two years in office. The Republican Party took control of the state house, Senate and Governor’s seat, and saw large gains in the federal Congress and Senate.
Kreitlow said he’s had conversations with many independent and Republican voters in the district, and while he admits he still has a lot of work to do, he sees hope that the tide is turning back toward the middle.
“In 2012, voters won’t be looking for candidates that are in the extreme one way or another,” he said. “They are going to want leaders in the middle that can talk to and work with each other. They don’t want to see this gridlock continue. They only want elected officials that are willing to work as hard and they do to earn a living.”