GOP primary candidates vying to unseat Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu differ with the incumbent on whether to rescind Wisconsin’s electoral votes for President Biden and how to use the state’s massive budget surplus.
LeMahieu, 49, faces two challengers in a GOP primary race that will all but officially decide who will represent the 9th Senate District.
LeMahieu is running against Ruth Villareal, 41, who works in plastics manufacturing, and Jeanette Deschene, 37, a client relations representative.
All three candidates spoke to WisPolitics.com about their platforms. The winner of the primary will run unopposed in the November general election, as there is no Democrat running for the seat. The 9th SD contains most of Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties, along with a section of Calumet County.
When it comes to controversy surrounding the 2020 presidential election, LeMahieu said that he would not vote to decertify Wisconsin’s election results and rescind the electoral votes that went to Biden. His challengers disagreed.
“At this point yes, I’ve done my research,” Deschene said, after being asked whether she would rescind Biden’s electoral votes. “I’ve dug in and helped out with some of the election audits in our local area in the city of Sheboygan, and there are definitely issues that needed to be reviewed.”
Villareal also said she would vote to rescind. “Absolutely. I do believe that there has been fraud, and it has been widespread,” she said, adding that “this has been a long-standing situation … and for whatever reason we’re just dealing with it now.”
The state is expecting a $5.4 billion surplus, according to Revenue Secretary Peter Barca, and LeMahieu wants to see that money be dedicated in two ways.
“It should be a combination of long-term tax cuts and some of it should be used to invest in state priorities,” LeMahieu said.
Villareal, however, wants to see the entire surplus returned to taxpayers.
“It comes from the taxpayers, so it should be returned to them, and they can use it however they deem is necessary,” Villareal said.
Deschene agreed, saying that she “would like to see it used for long-term tax cuts.”
Concerning higher-than-normal gas prices, LeMahieu and Deschene are both against a proposed suspension of the gas tax to try to reduce prices.
Deschene was specifically worried about the prospect of gas prices rising even further if the gas tax was to be suspended, saying “with gas prices decreasing right now… they could increase again. I think that would be a possibility.”
However, Villareal would support a temporary suspension of the gas tax under the condition the lost revenue is made up by postponing future infrastructure plans and not by borrowing more money.
“I would say suspend future plans,” she said. “I don’t believe that borrowing money is ever a good idea.”
LeMahieu signalled support for Wisconsin’s 173-year-old abortion ban that came into effect after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, although he wants a closer look.
“I think the law is good as it is, but we need to maybe take a closer look at what ‘life of the mother’ means to make sure that’s well-defined,” he said.
Deschene and Villareal also sided with the existing law on the books. Villareal added that “I do not believe that one life is superior to the other.”