GOP Senator Who Voted Against Mining Bill Could Face Primary Challenger


A Republican state senator who voted against two key pieces of Governor Scott Walker’s agenda will face a GOP primary if he decides to run again.

Dale Schultz of Richmond Center was the only Republican senator to vote against Governor Walker’s collective bargaining bill, and he was the only Republican from either house of the legislature to vote against Walker’s mining bill. Both moves drew scorn from some of Schultz’s fellow Republicans and now they have drawn him a potential GOP primary with Spring Green Republican Representative Howard Marklein.

Schultz says he still votes with the GOP on almost 99 percent of the bills before the legislature, and thinks the voters would respect his positions if he runs again.

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“I would argue that independence, that streak of Libertarianism, has always been a part of the Republican Party as long as I’ve been around, so I think I’m kind of in the mainstream in that regard.”

Schultz says he will formally decide sometime after the upcoming holiday season whether to seek another term. He says he still feels welcome among his Republican colleagues, so that will not be a factor in his decision.

“I’m no stranger to taking a couple of hits. Was it Harry Truman who said a long time ago, ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen?’ I’ve been doing this for 30 years. This is what we do. And you don’t take it personally; you do the job.”

Representative Marklein says Schultz’s votes on mining and collective bargaining were factors in his decision to run. He says he also heard concerns about Schultz from other Republicans in the district: “I know locally there was a lot of discontent by county party leaders.”

Both Marklein’s assembly seat and Schultz’s senate seat have leaned increasingly Democratic over the years. Democrats say a GOP primary there gives them a chance to pick up both seats in a general election.

Marklein dismisses that: “That district is a swing district, and they vote based on the candidate. Romney got killed out there, but Walker won handily.”

While it is unusual to see a representative challenge a sitting senator from his own party, it is hardly without precedent in Wisconsin. In 2004, then-Representative Glenn Grothman defeated Senator Mary Panzer, who at the time was the GOP’s senate majority leader.