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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Time running short for 1st District Democrats

Paulette Garin, Marge Krupp and Mike Hebert are well aware there's a primary Sept. 9. That's because the three are running to be the Democrat's candidate in November for the 1st Congressional District seat.

Their biggest challenge is to get the average voter to start thinking about the primary, too.

If things aren't tough enough now, the winner's next opponent will be incumbent Republican Paul Ryan. Ryan has a loyal base of supporters, tons of money and the name recognition that comes with having served since 1999.

Throw in Libertarian Joseph Kexel and Republican write-in candidate Joe Baker, and there's a lot of noise to break through.

September primaries traditionally have meager turnouts.

Walworth County Clerk Kimberly Bushey says that in 2002, 2004 and 2006 the percentage of the estimated population of voting age to cast a ballot never topped 15 percent.

That's compared to the last presidential election, where 66 percent of the estimated population of voting age showed up at the polls.

For the three congressional candidates, face-to-face campaigning has been central to their strategy.

Their fundraising approaches vary, however. Krupp says she's over $100,000 in campaign contributions, while Herbert says he's not taking a dime from anyone.

That's in comparison to Ryan, who has gone over $1 million, according to his Web site, and plans to run television advertising in three media markets.

Garin, 46, of Kenosha, is a UW-Whitewater grad with a bachelor's degree in music.

She says she's running a grass-roots campaign. She's still raising money, but her focus is on getting out and getting seen.

"None of us are household names," Garin said of the Democratic field. "But I've worked on building relationships."

"If someone invites me, I'll go. I don't see my opponents doing that as much as me," she said.

Garin says that more than taking a position on an issue, she has a program on how to follow through.

"I've thought my platform through; I'm not just spouting platitudes," she said.

Marge Krupp, 52, of Pleasant Prairie, has a background in engineering and business, but has devoted herself full time to run for Congress.

Her focus remains reaching voters one-to-one." "I suit up and I show up," Krupp said.

Krupp says she's separated herself from her primary opponents because she's been so inspired by the issues affecting voters here, and she's looking to working families for support. "The middle class is just disappearing," she said. "Everyone is hurting."

Although the primary vote is right around the corner, Krupp is positioning herself for the general election, regularly referring to the "Bush-Ryan administration."

Mike Hebert, 51, of Kenosha, says former Sen. William Proxmire inspires him. Proxmire was known in later years for never spending any money on his campaigns.

It's Herbert's strategy too.

"I don't have a web site. I didn't want to have a web site. I wanted to meet the people," he said. "I don't want to just sit there counting hits on my site all day."

Hebert, a union man who works at Ocean Spray in Kenosha, says the economy is at the top of the list of issues.

"We have to have industry here, along with innovation. A service sector economy is unsustainable," he said.

All three candidates said they haven't ignored Walworth County, despite its reputation as a Republican stronghold.

That's because all three a fighting for every vote they can get, and they only have a little over a week left to do it.

On the ballot

Paulette Garin

Marge Krupp

Mike Hebert


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