Friday, May 18, 2007

Race For The 22nd Assembly District Is On

With Rep. Sheldon Wasserman (D-Milwaukee) leaving to challenge Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) next year, the race is on to replace his post in the 22nd Assembly District.

WisPolitics reports that at least two people are interested enough in the position to publicly toss their names into the ring. One is Sandy Pasch of Whitefish Bay -- who appears to be running for sure -- and the other is Russ Hinz of Glendale, who is just considering a bid at this point.

Pasch and Hinz both would be running as Dems. The RPW spokesperson says that some GOPers have expressed interest in the seat, but I'm not so sure. The 22nd includes the heavily Democratic east side of Milwaukee -- specifically around the UWM campus -- and up into the North Shore suburbs, which have been trending solidly blue lately (a fact that'll have Darling working harder than usual in an election year, especially when facing a strong challenger like Wasserman).

Without a doubt, health care reform is going to be a big campaign issue in the 22nd next year. Bearing out this fact, WisPolitics reports that Pasch and Hinz have already staked out early, if vague, positions on the issue, and the two -- like Wasserman -- also both work in the health care field.

Hinz describes himself as a "Blue Dog Democrat," which is a coalition of Democrats in Congress who pride themselves on fiscal conservativism. It's a bit difficult to judge where Hinz would land on the issue of health care reform. According to the WisPolitics story, he's at least generally aware of the reform proposals being floated around the Capital, but he didn't divulge -- as least to WisPolitics -- exactly where he stands on any of them.

Adding to the ambiguity around Hinz is his position as an executive at Aurora Health Care, the biggest health system in the state. That certainly doesn't necessarily disqualify him from backing fundamental health care reform, but there's little doubt that his support for it as a legislator would put him in a precarious position with Aurora -- which is making a bundle off our existing fragmented system -- should he remain in some capacity there (or even rely on colleagues for campaign funds).

Pasch, a registered nurse who teaches at the Columbia College of Nursing, appears to be more of a grassroots person. She also has a degree in ethics and has extensive experience advocating for mentally ill patients in the community.

Based on the minimal information provided in the WisPolitics story about the two candidates, it appears Hinz would be more focused on the cost aspect of health care reform (key quote: the health insurance system is "squeezing the middle class") while Pasch would put more of an emphasis on the uninsured (key quote: "Pasch said she spent most of her timeout in the community, working with the homeless and those with inadequate or no health insurance who suffer from chronic illnesses that often is left untreated").

This, of course, isn't to say that Hinz isn't interested in coverage and Pasch isn't interested in cost. In fact, the key is going to be in the ability of both to bring those two aspects together and articulate specifically what they would do to advance health care reform -- we're much to far along in the debate for vagueness on even the smallest detail.

For Pasch it'll be important to not try to tug at the heart strings too much on the issue. The health issues of the poor and homeless is undoubtedly important and connected to the lives of everyone in the Milwaukee area, but she's going to be running for a seat in a district that predominantly has good health care. In this sense, it's really rising costs, as opposed to not enough coverage, that's most personally important to the constituents of the 22nd district.

The big challenge for Hinz will be crafting his fiscal conservativism in a liberal-friendly way; that is, there needs to be an emphasis on public finance as a whole -- services in addition to cost -- rather than a "just cut 'em" attitude that prevails in the districts in Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha counties. Health care is one place he can do that by emphasizing the significant public sector savings that can come through fundamental reform, but that also means he'll need to be willing to potentially stand up to the wants of the many friends he's probably made as an Aurora exec.

The race for the 22nd should make 2008 all that much more interesting of an election year. As a constituent of the district, I look forward to following it closely; and, if everything works out, I'll be looking at entirely Democratic representation: in the White House, in the Senate, in the House, and in both houses of the state legislature.


Side-Note: Yes, I know, the House is a long shot. Damn you, Sensenbrenner, for jeopardizing my chance at a full sweep!

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Anonymous Michael P. said...

Sam McGovern-Rowen, asst. to Ald. D'Amatro, is seriously considering a bid as well. It's in his genes.

May 18, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

I'd say so -- and he'd certainly have some strong support in the blogosphere with the help of his dad.

May 18, 2007  
Anonymous John said...

I heard Sachin Chheda's name, he used to work for the Governor, being tossed around as well.

May 18, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Sounds like it should be a healthy primary, at least on the Dem side. Anyone else hear of others?

May 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Milwaukee Rising reported (some days ago) that Sam McGovern-Rowen might be in the running.

And in addition to his dad, there are his grandfathers -- plural -- who know a bit about politics. . . .

But anybody will have big shoes to fill. Sheldon worked hard here.

May 18, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Yes, Anon, Sam McGovern-Rowen has deeper political roots than his dad; all I was pointing out is that in terms of support from the local blogosphere, his connections would come from his father.

May 20, 2007  
Blogger Sachin said...

I'm not running, I don't live in the district, and I'm excited that a spirited primary will come up with a great Democratic candidate.

May 22, 2007  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Thanks for clearing that up, Sachin. It's appreciated.

May 22, 2007  

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