Duffy, Kreitlow face off for the 7thWhen voters head to the polls Nov. 6, the voters of Wisconsin’s 7th District have to decide between a one-term state senator and a one-term congressman.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
When voters head to the polls Nov. 6, the voters of Wisconsin’s 7th District have to decide between a one-term state senator and a one-term congressman.
Republican Congressman Sean Duffy is facing a challenge from former Wisconsin senator, and anchor and reporter, Democrat Pat Kreitlow, for the seat held for more than 40 years by Democrat Dave Obey.
Duffy, a former Ashland County District Attorney, gained the seat almost two years ago with a little more than 52 percent of the vote in a three-way race.
“When Congressman Duffy voted for the first Paul Ryan budget, I knew that he was not the right fit for this district,” Kreitlow said. “This was somebody who promised to be an independent voice for northern Wisconsin. He has had several opportunities to prove that he was that independent voice. He could have stood up to that Paul Ryan budget. He could have said ‘I agree with most of this but I don’t think Medicare should be turned into a voucher program.’”
Kreitlow said it was that and other examples of the Republican congressman “marching in lock-step with his party” that prompted him to challenge the incumbent.
“I’m proud of working on and voting for a budget that balances,” Duffy said.
After all, the nation is facing a $16.2 trillion national debt.
“We have to work on balancing our budget,” Duffy said. “If you look at what a debt crisis does to Greece — what happened in Spain. These have huge impacts on societies. I don’t want that to happen here. I want to make sure we have people coming together with a plan to balance the American budget.”
Both candidates agree jobs and the economy are critical. However, their ideas for improving the nation’s economy and the job environment are different.
Duffy said during his tenure, congress has passed 30 or more jobs bills and getting those bills through will go a long way to creating private sector jobs by taking the burden of government off business owners, so they can focus on what they do best — run their business, expand and grow jobs.
“Part of that is making sure we reduce the regulations, the rules, the red-tape,” Duffy said. “When you have businesses like we have in our area — they’re not multi-nationals. They’re small businesses, manufacturers — to comply with all these rules and regulations, and red tape becomes very difficult and it takes time away from running and growing their business, and hiring people.”
And Duffy, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, recognizes that part of the problem is legislation that is hurting local financial institutions. The reform written to protect consumers and reform Wall Street is being felt on Main Street.
“If you look at all the rules and regulations that were meant for the big Wall Street banks, they now come home to affect all our small community banks and credit unions that didn’t have anything to do with the crisis,” Duffy said. “Anyone who’s tried to get a loan recently, they want to pull their hair out. It’s crazy. What I’ve been working on is making sure we stop punishing the small banks that weren’t bad actors and focus the attention on those that caused the problems.”
After all, community banks and credit unions are critical to keeping Main Street businesses in the 7th District running and growing.
“After Dodd-Frank, we’ve seen more consolidation of the big banks and big banks have gotten bigger,” Duffy said. He said if the problems Dodd-Frank created for community banks and credit unions aren’t fixed, “we’re going to see a continuation of the consolidation of community banks and credit unions, and we’re going to lose a great asset to rural Wisconsin.”
Those Main Street institutions struggling under Dodd-Frank are critical to the economy, Duffy said.
“We’re not a country that has grown by bloated and fat government jobs,” Duffy said. He said real growth comes from the entrepreneur that takes a risk, takes out a loan and grows a business and jobs. “Before you know it, you’ve got 20 people working in your small business and I want to encourage people to continue to do those kinds of things, to be at the cutting edge of new technology for the next generation,” Duffy said.
Kreitlow said to improve the business climate, congress needs to cut wasteful government spending, reform the regulatory system, have small business job growth ideas, beef up support for technical colleges, invest in the workforce through colleges and universities, reform the tax code, grow jobs in rural areas and put an end to the Washington gridlock.
“For me, it’s about the economic recovery and getting a job-creating climate, and for me that includes a special accent on rural parts of the country,” Kreitlow said. “I believe the middle class and middle America are getting short shrift out in Washington. I believe that tax relief belongs to the middle class and I think that job-creating ideas should be geared toward the small businesses that create the majority of the jobs in the middle of the country.”
Kreitlow said common sense is being lost and too many hoops and hurdles are standing in the way of small businesses
“If your congressman isn’t part of the solution, he’s part of the problem,” Kreitlow said. “… if you have a few rank and file members that are willing to work across the aisle on a few things here and there, you start to change the tone.”
During his tenure in the Wisconsin legislature, Kreitlow said he worked with Republican Rep. Scott Suder of Abbotsford, and stood up to party leadership, including Gov. Jim Doyle, to defeat proposals that would have ended rural economic development and added financial burdens to rural fire departments.
However, Duffy has been willing to work with Democrats during his first term in congress. He said he was proud to work with Democrats Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Ron Kind of Wisconsin to unravel 30 years of red tape to allow construction of the St. Croix bridge between Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Both candidates say they are well-suited to serving the people of the 7th District.
Kreitlow said he will bring a good, Midwestern work ethic to Washington D.C.
“I grew up in a very poor family where the only thing my parents could give me was a work ethic,” Kreitlow said. “I watched both parents work multiple jobs in order to support their family. As a result, a kid who used to wait in line with his mom for food stamps was able to be first in my family to get a college education. I just think there are countless families here that want to work hard, but they’re frustrated that people in congress don’t want to work hard. What we really need are harder workers.”
Duffy said his long ties to the district make him an asset in Washington D.C.
“Being born and raised in Hayward, that’s a very important part of my background that helps me serve,” Duffy said. “I’ve been open and accessible.” From town hall meetings in every county in the district annually, coffee with your congressman events, planning and executing job fairs and sending his mobile office throughout the district, Duffy said the events provide him the opportunity to listen to people in the district.
“I’ve done more listening than talking,” Duffy said. “That’s what’s been important. That’s why I know what’s going on.”