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Democratic Businessman Andy Gronik Running For Governor

Milwaukee Democrat Plans Progressive Campaign To Challenge Republican Scott Walker


Milwaukee-area businessman Andy Gronik has announced he’ll run for governor as a Democrat in 2018, saying Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s policies have damaged Wisconsin’s schools and kept the state’s economy from growing.

While a long list of Democrats have flirted with running for governor, Gronik becomes one of the first to officially enter the race.

Gronik founded the Mequon-based consulting firm AccuVal in 1988 and sold it in 2013. He said the firm helped other companies become more productive and access capital, skills he said he could use as governor to help Wisconsin’s economy grow.

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“What’s happening right now in the state is young people are growing up and they’re leaving,” Gronik said. “I want them to stay here and have the same kind of future, the same kinds of opportunities in the state of Wisconsin that I’ve had.”

Gronik’s emphasis of his private sector background is reminiscent to the 2014 Wisconsin governor’s race, when Democrat Mary Burke, a former Trek executive, lost to Walker by nearly 6 percentage points. Gronik said he had deep admiration for Burke and he thought she ran a strong campaign.

While Walker has emphasized Wisconsin’s low unemployment rate as a sign the state’s economy has performed well under his watch, Gronik said that ignores other metrics that show Wisconsin’s economy has stagnated.

“Last year he created less than 12,000 jobs in the private sector,” Gronik said. “Millions and millions of incentives — taxpayer money — have been paid to companies in our state, but yet we lost over 3,700 manufacturing jobs.”

Asked which of Walker’s policies he would repeal if elected, Gronik volunteered Wisconsin Act 10, the law that effectively ended bargaining rights for public sector unions.

“Education has always been one of the cornerstones of the state of Wisconsin,” Gronik said. “We need to get our teachers and our public employees back to the bargaining table.”

Gronik also highlighted the ongoing debate in the United States capitol over repealing the Affordable Care Act. He said he had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in his early 20s, a pre-existing condition protected by the law known as Obamacare.

“The fact that people with pre-existing conditions could lose health care and potentially lose their life or their life savings because Republicans want to repeal a benefit… it just isn’t acceptable,” Gronik said.

While Walker has said it’s a given people with pre-existing conditions would be covered in Wisconsin, he has also signaled an openness to applying for a waiver that would exempt the state from some Obamacare protections.

Walker has not formally announced he’s seeking a third term, but he’s already laying the groundwork. His campaign announced Tuesday it raised $3.5 million in the first half of this year and has more than $2.4 million on hand.

The Republican Governors Association, which Walker chairs, has historically spent heavily on Wisconsin races, and issued a statement Tuesday attacking Gronik.

“While Governor Scott Walker has achieved meaningful reform for the people of Wisconsin, including guiding the state to its lowest unemployment rate in 17 years, Gronik only offers policies that would take the state backwards,” the RGA statement read.

Gronik is all but certain to face a Democratic primary opponent, if not several.

The list of Democrats who’ve said they’re contemplating running for governor includes state Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers, former Wisconsin Democracy Campaign Director Mike McCabe, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, Alma state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, and Eau Claire state Rep. Dana Wachs.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 5:29 p.m. with original reporting from WPR.