A former Department of Transportation employee announced his candidacy Tuesday for a Senate seat currently held by Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center.
Democrat Ernie Wittwer said he intends to run for the seat to address the partisan agendas currently interfering with the livelihood of Wisconsin residents. Only one Democrat has held the seat since 1852.
Schultz has not announced whether or not he will be running for re-election, noting in a statement Tuesday that his decision on whether or not to run has always been a conversation with his family and close supporters after the first of the year.
“Right now, I’m focused on doing what the people of the 17th Senate district sent me here to do — represent them, all of them regardless of party affiliation, on the issues that concern them most like job creation, education and fiscal responsibility,” Schultz said in the statement.
Wittwer said some of the issues he most cares about are education, medical care and Wisconsin’s economy.
More specifically, Wittwer said he would like to address the state’s approach to the Affordable Care Act and address economic problems such as the widening income gap and the rate of jobs compared to the national average.
With 24 years of experience working at the DOT, Wittwer said he managed the department’s budget and staff.
Wittwer added he does not think of Schultz as a political opponent as Schultz has not decided whether or not to run for re-election.
Wittwer also said he “commends” Schultz for voting outside of party lines, citing Shultz’ position on collective bargaining.
Faced with the challenge of voting in a primarily Republican district, Wittwer said the district is “interesting” because voters largely voted for Democrats for national offices, like President Barack Obama and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, but voted for Republicans for their state legislators.
“So what we have to do is get people to understand that consistency would be a good thing as they cast their ballots, and then it would become a Democratic district entirely,” Wittwer said.
Rep. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, announced his candidacy against Schultz in April, for the August 2014 Republican primary, should Schultz decide to run.
Schultz has held his seat since 1991.