Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Another Republican primary Tuesday


Waukesha Freeman August 27th Page 6A Opinion

Another Republican primary Tuesday

Westlake, Duchow seen as top contenders in 99th

We interrupt your summer vacation with yet another special election in Waukesha County. The Republican primary in the 99th Assembly District is this Tuesday. The winner will likely be the next state representative for this Republican district, especially as there is no declared Democratic candidate.


Don’t complain about another election. I warned you before you voted for Chris Kapenga over Brian Dorow in the special election for state Senate.

There are four contenders on the ballot: Dave Westlake, Cindi Duchow, Scott Owens and Spencer Zimmerman. Westlake is a smallbusiness owner and a former candidate for the U.S. Senate. Duchow is a member of the Town Board in Delafield and a small-business owner. Owens is in insurance and has a small business. Zimmerman works for a limousine service.

Republican observers that actually have an opinion on the sleepy race tell me that Duchow and Westlake are the two leading contenders.

Both Duchow and Westlake lead in cash on hand, according to the latest campaign finance report. Duchow and Owens are mostly self-funded, but all three candidates have put their own money into the race. Owens has actually spent more money than Westlake has raised.

Duchow received a major endorsement on Tuesday from former Gov. Tommy Thompson. As the campaign press release reveals, you never know when a roasted ear of corn is going to pay off. Duchow is quoted in the campaign release, “Back in 1986 when an unknown then-Rep. Tommy Thompson first decided to run for Governor, my father pulled our family together to host a corn roast fundraiser for him.”

Duchow was also endorsed by former Thompson consigliere James Klauser, former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow, and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo. She was also endorsed by the politically important Wisconsin Realtors Association and Wisconsin Right to Life.

Duchow launched her campaign by saying she was the only candidate in the race who lived her entire life in Waukesha County. Many of her neighbors are probably refugees from Milwaukee County, as is your faithful columnist. I’m not sure lifelong residency has the same cachet it once did, but it probably helps Duchow’s candidacy.

Westlake has accumulated an interesting list of endorsements, including state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, former Waukesha County Sheriff Dan Trawicki and former state Rep. Don Pridemore.

Despite concerns expressed to me about financial contributions from former U.S. Senate candidate Tim Michels, the Westlake campaign assures me the full repeal of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law is a matter of principle with the candidate.

Westlake’s endorsement by conservative activists Bob and Jean Dohnal also comes with a corn connection. The Dohnals threw the first corn roast fundraiser for a young Scott Walker in his first successful race for state Assembly. By the way, the Dohnals are hosting another corn roast this Sunday.

Westlake is also endorsed by all the social conservative players: Wisconsin Right to Life, Pro-Life Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Family Action.

Westlake is probably best known to conservatives for his 2010 run for Senate and will be counting on the good will from that campaign to carry over.

Hoping to catch up is Scott Owens, who has deep family roots in Waukesha politics. His grandfather, Lloyd Owens, was County Board chairman for 20 years.

Owens told me Tuesday night he knows his campaign got a late start but he was waiting to see if Brian Dorow would enter the race. Owens is hoping his door-to-door efforts and direct mail help him catch Duchow and Westlake. He may be helped by being the only candidate from a community south of Interstate 94.

Owens was endorsed by Pro-Life Wisconsin. He told me Tuesday night he was endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life even though he was not on their press release. According to their PAC director Chelsea Shields, Wisconsin Right to Life did not receive a completed questionnaire from Owens. (See note below)

For such a young man, Zimmerman spends a great deal of time running for public office, including a run for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska and for a seat on the Dane County Board. For some people there is storm chasing. Zimmerman chases elections.

The real winners Tuesday will be the voters and municipal clerks in Waukesha County. With just one uncontested special election left after the Republican primary there will finally be a break. That is, until the candidates start lining up for the spring elections.


The following correction appeared in the Friday edition of the Waukesha Freeman at my request:

Due to inaccurate information from Wisconsin Right to Life, James Wigderson incorrectly reported in his column that the group has not endorsed Scott Owens in the 99th Assembly race. The group has indeed endorsed Owens.
We regret the error.

I would add, they had just one election…

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