Republicans seeking to challenge incumbent Dem Sen. Patty Schachtner to represent the western Wisconsin-based 10th SD largely agree on most of the pressing issues state lawmakers will face in the upcoming legislative session.
Schachtner pulled off a surprise victory over then-Rep. Adam Jarchowin a 2018 special election for the western Wisconsin seat. Donald Trump won the district by 17 points in 2016 while Scott Walker also claimed it with 53.8 percent in 2018 during his failed bid to retain the governorship.
Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said at a WisPolics.com luncheon last year he had identified the Somerset Dem as a top target this fall.
In interviews with WisPolitics.com, state Rep. Rob Stafsholt, R-New Richmond, and businesswoman Cherie Link both indicated they were motivated to run by Schachtner winning the seat and knocked her efforts to represent the district.
But they pair offered few differences on policy.
Both Stafsholt and Link gave nuanced answers when asked if they philosophically supported directing local dollars that are now going to police departments to community services or mental health programs.
Stafsholt told WisPolitics.com he couldn’t weigh in because funding priorities should be decided at the local level.
“I think that the locals have the best ties to what the needs are in their communities and that they prioritize the dollars they spend based on what those needs are,” he said. “I think we should continue to allow them to do that.”
Link, meanwhile, pointed to a police ride-along she participated in around the turn of the year.
“We spent almost four hours of that ride-along time in the ER and in the local hospital with somebody that was in mental health crisis, two officers with me sitting there for four hours,” she said. “So could we be looking at our budget to use it wiser? Absolutely, because that was not a good use of their time or resources.
Link went on to say she did not support “taking money away from our police.”
Neither explicitly ruled out backing Gov. Tony Evers’ calls to reform police practices by banning chokeholds and no-knock searches and ensuring deadly force is used only as a last resort. Instead, both called for new policies to be developed in consultation with law enforcement agencies.
But they both rejected Evers’ efforts to expand Medicaid and curb gun violence by broadening background checks and implementing so-call “red-flag” laws. They also expressed reservations about using state funding to help local governments replace lead laterals, saying tax dollars from the district should remain in the district.