State Senate’s Top Dem Backs Bomhack For Richland Center Seat


The top Democrat in the Wisconsin Senate is getting involved in a primary for a key state Senate contest, throwing his support behind a newcomer to the race.

Of all the open Senate seats up for election this fall, no district is better for Democrats by the numbers than the one being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Dale Schultz, around Richland Center. President Obama carried it with 56 percent of the vote two years ago.

Democrat Ernie Wittwer jumped into the race last October, but his fund raising lagged Republican candidate Howard Marklein. About a week ago, Democrat Pat Bomhack decided he would run. Democratic Minority Leader Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, says Bomhack is the better candidate, saying he has the work ethic and the attitude that will help him win.

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“Over the next month, it’ll become obvious that he’s working that district hard and that he’s going to come out of that primary as the winner of the general election,” he said.

While legislative leaders often have favorites in primaries, it’s unusual for a leader to publicly support one candidate over another. Larson, however, says this is a district Democrats have to win.

“You know, we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines for four months,” he said.

Asked about Larson’s support of Bomhack, Wittwer said it came as a surprise, but he said it would not hurt his campaign.

“In fact it probably will be a help to me, because primary voters out here and other voters out here like people to be independent,” Wittwer said. “They don’t like people who are in Madison taking their cues from party leaders, I don’t care which party it is.”

Bomhack responded in a similar vein.

“We’re always happy to have support, but I’m a lot less interested in what people think outside the district than what my friends and neighbors here in Spring Green and in southwest Wisconsin think,” Bomhack said.

Wisconsin’s fall primary will be held August 14.