GOP Primary in the 59th Assembly District

There is a very interesting primary election happening in the 59th Assembly District. There are four very different Republicans vying for a very Conservative district. In a different summer, I would have spent a lot more time digging into the race. These are the ones I enjoy evaluating. But alas, I’ve been busy and haven’t had the time. That being said, below are some general thoughts and impressions as a casual observer.

As I said, the 59th district is very conservative and has been represented by strong conservatives for a generation. The incumbent, Jesse Kremer, has decided to return to the private sector, so it is an open run. I don’t think there is even a Democrat running. Even if there was, history would tell us that whoever wins the GOP primary election will be the next representative. There are four GOP candidates, so the winner could be elected by just 26% of GOP primary voters in a low-turnout summer election

The district has an odd geography. It covers the City of Hartford (its largest city at 14,000 people), and then winds to the north and east to include Kewaskum, Campbellsport, Eden, and all the way up to New Holstein. Here’s the map. So it is mostly rural with a couple of small cities.

I have been on the receiving end of countless letters to the editor (I’m on a lot of distribution lists), private comments, and met a couple of the candidates. Here are my general, casual-observer-from-the-neighboring-district thoughts on the four GOP candidates.

Ty Bodden is a young guy who worked for the incumbent, Jesse Kremer, on his campaign and as a legislative aide. He is a doctrinaire conservative with all of the appropriate credentials. He is actually endorsed by Representative Kremer, which is a bit unusual, but clearly Kremer trusts his steadfast conservatism. My worry with candidates like this is always the lack of life experience. Given the choice between a conservative with a lot of experience in the world and one whose primary experience is from the perspective of political office, I tend to lean toward the more experienced conservatives. That being said, I don’t think the voters would be disappointed with Bodden as their representative.

Ken Depperman is a Fond du Lac County Supervisor who touts himself as a “Fiscal Conservative with a Social Conscience.” I’m not sure that what means, but apparently his social conscience led him to sign the recall petition for Governor Walker a few years ago. That disqualifies his for office as a Republican in my book.

Rachel Mixon hails from the largest city in the district, Hartford, and currently serves on its Council. She’s a 20-year teacher at a private religious high school. She also has all of the requisite conservative credentials and endorsements, including a former holder of this seat, Don Pridemore. I did have a chance to meet with Mrs. Mixon at some event. We spoke about a few top-of-mind issues and I thought she was thoughtful with a conservative approach to problem solving.

Timothy Ramthun is a Kewaskum (second largest community in the district) native whose experience is primarily in the private sector. He touts himself as a conservative and has a pro-life endorsement. His strength is several decades in the private sector in various leadership positions. My concern with Ramthun is that he has also been on the Kewaskum School Board for the past several years and helped push though a massive school building referendum. The process leading up to that referendum used all of the shady techniques we’ve come to expect from some school boards and Ramthun was in the thick of it. He lists as one of his issues, “Supports Improving Public Education / reform the out-dated State subsidy formula.” Given his record on the Kewaskum School Board, he seems to be one of those folks who thinks that the problems in our education system can only be fixed with more money. We don’t need another Republican in Madison looking to increase spending.

So, there’s my two cents. If I had to vote in that election, I would vote for Mixon or Bodden. I encourage the Republicans in that district to do some homework and get out and vote. you have an interesting choice to make.