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Zipperer in race for state senate but Kramer running for re-election instead

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Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:2010 Jan 28; Section:Opinion; Page Number: 8A

Kanavas’ decision surprises
He would be worthy foe for Feingold

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

On Monday afternoon I started skimming through e-mails and press releases looking to see what might interest me this week for my column. I had to read the press release from Sen. Ted Kanavas, R-Brookfield, twice.

Kanavas announced he was not seeking reelection to the state Senate.

My mind flashed back to the Waukesha Christmas Parade when Kanavas walked the route again. If he knew then he was not going to run, would he have still walked the route?

Kanavas is a politician of some potential for bigger things. He actually toyed with the idea of running in the Republican primary for governor. He is being talked of as a possible challenger for Sen. Russ Feingold.

But with congressman Sensenbrenner not going anywhere but back to Washington for another term, and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker the likely winner of the Republican nomination for governor, Kanavas’ options for advancement are limited.

As for the run against Feingold, my sources tell me Kanavas has not ruled it out. Kanavas would be a strong candidate. He has a solid conservative background. He has private-sector experience. He comes from the state’s largest media market. He is capable of raising money.

The Republican challengers are so far unimpressive.

Terrence Wall of Madison has made campaign contributions to Democrats and has not paid (or owed) income taxes nine of the last 10 years.

The other Republican is Dave Westlake, a businessman from Watertown who has promised not to raise money for his campaign. It is an easy promise to keep when nobody will give you any. The other promise is to wear blaze orange. Maybe he could borrow a pair of blaze orange Crocs from (Waukesha) Mayor Larry Nelson.

If Kanavas entered the Republican primary, he would quickly become the front-runner. However, why announce not running for the state Senate without making another announcement he was running against Feingold right away? Even if former Gov. Tommy Thompson enters the race, Kanavas could always retreat back to his Senate seat. That option is now cut off.

With Kanavas no longer running for re-election, his state Senate seat opens up for state Rep. Rich Zipperer, R-Pewaukee. Zipperer was first elected four years ago in a five-way primary with the support of his former boss, congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. Zipperer is a solid conservative candidate. He is pro-life, and he has a reputation for being a hard campaigner.

Zipperer appears to have had advance knowledge of Kanavas’ plans. His announcement of his candidacy quickly followed Kanavas’ announcement. His state Senate campaign Web site went up quickly shortly after.

The reward for winning is a four-year term instead of the current two-year term in the Assembly. Also, the winner would be in a good position to try to replace Sensenbrenner should he ever retire.

State Rep. Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, was a serious potential candidate, but withdrew right away to continue to keep the 97th Assembly District in Republican hands. Kramer, too, is a solid conservative, pro-life and a hard campaigner. He and Zipperer were elected to the Assembly at the same time.

There should be a special reward in Republican heaven for Kramer considering that he would have given Zipperer a tough primary.

The third Republican member of the Assembly in the district, Don Pridemore, would be unlikely to get the Wisconsin Right to Life endorsement because of his past feud with that organization over the issue of mandatory disclosure of donors when an organization runs issue ads. Even if he decides to run at this point, his candidacy would be a long shot at best.

Expect a flood of candidates to run to replace Zipperer in the 98th Assembly district. Also look for the Republican Party to do its best to manage the situation to avoid an expensive primary.

JAMES
WIGDERSON

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