Candidates In North-Central Wisconsin Senate Race Square Off In Debate

Incumbent Jerry Petrowski Runs Against CEO Of Native American Media Company


The two candidates for north-central Wisconsin’s 29th Senate District squared off in Wausau Tuesday night in their only broadcast debate.

Incumbent Jerry Petrowski won the recall election in the 29th District two years ago, which helped keep the state Senate in Republican hands. His opponent is Democrat Paul DeMain, the CEO of Indian Country Communications, based on the Lac Courte Oreille Reservation in the northwest corner of the sprawling district.

On Tuesday night, Demain questioned Petrowski’s support for the proposed Penokee Hills iron ore mine and the new state mining law.

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“They voted 17-16, 17 times to table every good amendment that would have made that a better bill that looked at the environmental conditions, that allowed local towns and counties and citizens to intervene and question what that company is doing,” said DeMain.

Petrowski, for his part, said that the mine would be closely monitored by agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“If that mine cannot be built and run safely, then it should not happen. And I believe it can,” said Petrowski.

Petrowksi, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, also said that he favors the proposed constitutional amendment that would keep the transportation fund from being used for other purposes.

“If we don’t find a way to go ahead and fix the transportation, it’s going to be a problem for everything,” Petrowski said. “In order to have jobs in Wisconsin, we have to find a way to move goods and services effectively and efficiently.”

Paul DeMain does not support the amendment.

“We need to make sure there’s enough flexibility in this transportation funding to move with the changes of time, so I think we ought not pass this amendment,” DeMain said.

The 29th Senate candidates were questioned by reporters from the Wausau Daily Herald, WAOW-TV and WSAW-TV.

Editor’s Note: With full disclosure, Glen Moberg, the author of this article, also moderated the debate between Petrowski and DeMain.