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Congressional primary goes to Pocan

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staff, Gazette
August 15, 2012

— Mark Pocan outdistanced another state lawmaker and two other challengers in a Democratic primary Tuesday, advancing a step closer toward claiming the congressional seat fellow Democrat Tammy Baldwin has held since 1998.

On the day he turned 48, Pocan defeated state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys and two first-time candidates who mounted minimal campaigns.

"You couldn't ask for much more on your birthday," Pocan said. "Now we just have to make sure we get the team ready and cross the finish line."

In Rock County, Pocan received 60 percent of the votes, or 2433. Roys had 1,028 votes, while Silverman followed with 313 and Hall with 241.

The 2nd District includes the city of Beloit and western Rock County.

Baldwin, who served seven straight terms in the House, gave up her 2nd District seat in the Madison area to run for the U.S. Senate.

Like Baldwin, Pocan is openly gay. He has championed greater rights for gays and women. He has also served as a co-chair of the Assembly's Joint Finance Committee, which he credits for giving him valuable experience in writing budgets.

He said his priorities as a congressman will include fixing the economy, bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. and making sure as many Americans as possible have access to affordable health care.

Virginia Clinton, a 33-year-old research associate at UW-Madison, said she voted for Pocan because he came across as a decent person whereas Roys seemed "a bit belligerent."

"He's more interested in working with other people than standing up to people," Clinton said.

Rick Coelho, Roys' campaign manager, said Roys had called Pocan to offer her "hearty congratulations on a hard-fought race."

"She's proud of what she was able to accomplish—the important issues that she raised and the meaningful choice she gave voters in the 2nd Congressional District," Coelho said.

There was less drama in the other primary. Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Petri easily turned back a token challenge by tea party member Lauren Stephens in the 6th District. Petri has represented his district, which covers Fond du Lac and surrounding areas, for more than 30 years.

The state's attention now turns to November's general election, when Wisconsin's other seven congressional incumbents—five Republicans and two Democrats—will defend their seats.

Several incumbents have the benefit of longevity. Petri has served since 1979, one year less than fellow Republican James Sensenbrenner. The two Democratic incumbents, Ron Kind and Gwen Moore, have also served multiple terms—Kind since 1996, Moore since 2004.

The drama is likely to be in the 7th and 8th Congressional Districts, currently represented by a pair of freshmen Republicans. Rep. Sean Duffy will be opposed by Democrat Pat Kreitlow, while fellow incumbent Reid Ribble will face Democratic challenger Jamie Wall.

Rep. Paul Ryan will still be on the ballot in the 1st Congressional District, even though he's Mitt Romney's running mate. If he prevails in both races, a special election will be held to fill the congressional seat.

Ryan's congressional opponent is Democrat Rob Zerban, a former Kenosha County board supervisor.

Pocan will face Republican Chad Lee in November. Petri will be opposed by Democratic challenger Joe Kallas of Princeton.


 

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