Address: Marshfield Family: Widowed, remarried to Kathleen for 10 years, two adult children and two adult stepchildren. Age: 59 Education: Bachelor of Arts in biology and bible and religion, medical degree from Northwestern University, master's i...
Family: Widowed, remarried to Kathleen for 10 years, two adult children and two adult stepchildren.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in biology and bible and religion, medical degree from Northwestern University, master's in medical management from the University of Southern California in 2012.
Government, military or civic experience:
A member of the founding board for Habitat for Humanity in Marshfield, served on a variety of boards for the arts and other organizations.
Why did you decide to run for Congress?
"I started getting interested in this about a year ago now. When the house passed the bill that destroyed, decimated the health care of the very patients I've been committed to serving for 25 years. So I gave a series of talks in town and people would bring up the idea 'why don't I run for Congress?' Last fall, Kathleen, I and a good friend of ours organized the United to Amend effort here in Marshfield, and gathered nearly 1,400 signatures to get the resolution on the ballot where the people of Marshfield could weigh in corporations are not people and money is not speech. It was on the ballot in April and it passed, but we did all the work to get it on the ballot last October. I got engaged with that. And then by December and January, I started calling around to party leaders in the state and asked 'do you have someone to run against Sean Duffy. What we've learned from races around the country ... was that every seat should be challenged because every seat is winnable. So as I called around to party leaders, the counsel I finally received was that of all those considering running for Congress was that no one considering running should dissuade me from running. At that point, I said OK. If we need a strong candidate, I could be that person to do it. My motivation is making sure the patients I take care of have health care, and also protecting our democracy, which I got involved in with United to Amend."
What skills do you bring to the table?
"I have an extremely deep understanding of the No. 1 concern of the people in the nation and in Wisconsin, which is health care. Partly, certainly as a physician I've witnessed challenges right at the bedside, but also then as a health care leader, I understand the complexity of what it takes to bring the resources together to provide complex health care. Being a physician, I was president of Marshfield Clinic for two years and served in leadership for about five years. So having had that opportunity to get a deep understanding of health care. Certainly, the other skill, which is part of being a physician, part of being a health care business leader, is the need to do the research to get an understanding of it. And then the leadership skills of needing to solve problems, whether that is complex care patients in intensive care units or whether it has to do with the $2 billion a year health care system of 'how do we solve problems and how do we bring resources together to make sure ... we honor the mission to take care of the patients in our service area. That involved solving complex problems and working toward agreements and implementing those changes to make sure we honor that mission."
What leadership experience do you have?
Ewert has been endorsed by retired Congressman Dave Obey, who served the district for 42 years, retired state Sen. Bob Jauch and Mary Hoeft, who challenged Duffy unsuccessfully in 2016. "It's been good for me to get that external validation. Experience does matter. Congressman Obey and Senator Jauch were such champions for dental care. That got to be a big issue, particularly providing dental care through community health centers. Marshfield Clinic partners with a community health center and that part of our mission needed to be strengthened when I was president. So I got deeply involved in that." In addition to serving in leadership in the Marshfield Clinic, he said he's taken on leadership roles within his specialty when needed, and served as one of two chief residents following his residency at the University of North Carolina.
What do you see as the role and responsibility of a congressman?
"The first one is the oath we take to uphold the constitution. That's the overriding one. Next is to form relationships with all 700,000 constituents in terms of being present with them, conveying information to them, and equally important, listening to them. There's always the tension that there's the half a year's worth of time that needs to be spent in Washington, doing the job there, but that means half the year, the representative needs to be present in the district and interacting with constituents and being at events, being witness to the troubles." He cited examples of the two 500-year storms that have caused flooding in the area and the Husky Energy refinery fire. "I certainly learned that as president; I would purposely have the board meet throughout our district. So I would have meet in Lady Smith or Rice Lake or Minocqua or Wausau, just so that the leaders of the clinic could experience what was happening locally. I would take that same spirit to being in Congress. The only way I can really understand Superior, Wisconsin, is to be in Superior, Wisconsin, and talking to people."
Russian interference in U.S. elections continues to be a threat to our democracy. What measures would you support to thwart those efforts?
"First of all to make sure we have the correct laws passed. If the justice department said they didn't have the adequate laws to assure that foreign entities stayed out of U.S. elections, then we need to craft that legislation and support that legislation. Then there is the role of oversight, which is crucial for Congress to make sure the executive branch is faithfully carrying out its duties to protect the American electorate. It's those two sides - make sure the executive branch has the tools to carry out and fulfilling the constitutional role of Congress to make sure the executive branch is carrying out, in good faith, its duty to the American public."
Mueller's ongoing probe of Russian interference in U.S. elections has been under attack by the president. What measures would you support to ensure Mueller and his team can finish their work to determine what happened and who was involved?
He said the legislative branch needs to make sure that Mueller's investigation is protected and the probe not weakened. "Certainly his investigations have been extremely successful with the number of indictments, the number of people who have confessed and his ongoing process. He is obviously someone that has served this country well. He's a Marine veteran. He rose to the level of the director of the FBI. He's always held in the utmost regard in terms of his diligence, his seriousness, and his attention to the rule of law ... and I think it's important how we set the tone and this is a nonpartisan issue. Once we take that oath to uphold the constitution, we also, with that, speak to the importance of the rule of law, that we would never criticize someone going through an exercise in law just for a partisan reason. So I think it's crucial as leaders that we always stand on the side of the constitution and on the side of the U.S. as independent of interference from a foreign entity that clearly seeks to advance their own interests that aren't aligned with United States interests."
Wisconsin is facing economic challenges - from farms to manufacturing facilities - as a result of the president's decision to implement tariffs. Do you have or are there solutions that you would support our industries weather the issue? Please explain.
"First is recognizing that the constitution actually puts the responsibility for tariffs and international trade in Congress. That's one of the few delineated powers of Congress is actually to be in charge of tariffs and international trade. So over the years, Congress has delegated some of that responsibility to the executive branch, so it's time for Congress to reclaim its rightful role. Certainly there have been people in Congress who have started exerting that - 107 Republican representatives have sent a letter to the president in March to warn him that he needed to be careful with the tariffs. Unfortunately, Congressman Duffy is not one of those 107." He said the executive branch is overstepping its authority and its time for Congress to reclaim that.
"If you look at the agricultural tariffs which is now being done in a retaliatory nature, so every fourth row of soybeans no longer has a market. Fifty percent of our cheese goes to Mexico. We now have retaliatory tariffs there. Cheese storage is at an all-time high and prices are at a 10-year low. We need to be reversing this as fast as possible. Unfortunately, it takes years to develop markets and only weeks to destroy them. Some of this was based on the steel tariffs, which were actually imposed against some of strongest allies. They were done under the head of national security. This was power granted to the president in times of war to make sure the U.S. had material for building tanks and other materials for war. Clearly that charge is being misused by the president." He said that puts an added stress on farmers because prices of their yield is plummeting, but the cost of steel for buildings and equipment is soaring. "Our farmers are getting caught on both sides of this tariff war, so it's important to reverse it and start regrowing this market." Ewert took issue with the claim that the European Union would buy American soybeans, because most of what is grown in the U.S. is genetically modified, a product the European Union won't buy. "As the representative coming from this district, I think it's crucial to challenge the executive branch to make skillful decisions regarding trade, not to imperil our hardworking manufacturers and farmers."
Health care is an issue that affects every American's life at some point. What do you see as the best options for ensuring access to health care and how would you work in a bipartisan manner to achieve that?
"The best solution I see is opening up the public option, which is called the Choose Medicare Act, so Medicare for all would be an option for all Americans. So this would allow individuals, and businesses and school districts and any other entity to opt in to Medicare, and in doing so, you get the efficiencies of the public program, which is the most efficient health care system we have in the country. You also have the negotiating power with the pharmaceutical industry, which is specifically written into the bill. This is a bill that was introduced by Sens. Murphy and Merkley. So in being able to negotiate the prices - right now we have vulnerable people with horrible diseases being victimized by the pharmaceutical industry - and we need to bring, as every other civilized country does on the planet, we need to bring the federal government into the negotiations to have fair prices for our critically ill patients. Opening up the medicare for all will do that with a public option. The advantage of this is we do not force anyone to change their health care. Currently, there are about 150 million Americans that do have private insurance, private health care and some of those people are very satisfied with their health care coverage. And so we say that if you're satisfied that is good. You can keep what you have. However, if you are dissatisfied - you are uninsured or inadequately insured then those people can opt into Medicare for an affordable product that starts driving down the cost of health care in the United States, which is a crucial issue."
Ewert said he is hopeful that there are rural Republican representatives who want to partner with Democratic rural representatives to solve problems constituents face in rural communities.
"At the end of the day, we live in communities, not political parties."
Ewert said medical facilities - the critical access hospital, VA Clinic and community health center on Tower Avenue are a prime example of what communities can do when they work together. "It's a great example of how people work together to solve problems ... it's an excellent example of how we use all the pieces of our health care system to help people."
Is there anything you would like to add?
"The other big issue that I speak of often is this need for broadband coverage throughout the 7th Congressional District. Those who came before us in the 1930s were on rural farms with no electricity and one of the greatests lifts out of poverty in the Depression, in the world economy, was rural electrification. And every house, every barn got wired basically ... We need to have that same approach with broadband because it's how our children do homework, it's how people start businesses that didn't have mobile outreach. It's how people in their adulthood get their next education or their next job. Then, as life starts coming closer to the end, it's how we provide health care in their home." He said daily, it's how physicians get information from patients to tailor their health care to their conditions, keeping patients out of our emergency rooms and hospitals, and helping with the cost of health care."
The other big issue is the environment and climate change issue, he said.
"It's crucial that we address this," Ewert said. "We grow great jobs with renewable energy, with solar panels and wind, and other technologies to make sure our buildings are efficient." He said the issue is vital to northern Wisconsin and ensures good stewardship.