The Madison Public Library hosted to a panel of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates Wednesday, less than a week before the Wisconsin primary elections.
Sponsored by Isthmus, WORT Madison Radio and The Progressive magazine, seven of the eight candidates sat down to discuss issues surrounding the upcoming primary election.
According to a July poll from the Marquette Law School, 38 percent of Democratic voters are still unsure of who they will support in the primary.
The panel consisted of state education superintendent Tony Evers, former Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Matt Flynn, political activist Mike McCabe, businessman Josh Pade, former state Rep. Kelda Roys, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma. Firefighter and union leader Mahlon Mitchell was unable to attend the forum.
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Among the issues addressed, funding for education, addressing poverty in Wisconsin and winning the November election received the most attention.
Evers, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, stressed the race for governor would not be won just by bashing Scott Walker. He also expressed support for banning assault weapons and for expanding investment in public schools.
Flynn, however, said Gov. Scott Walker would have Evers “for lunch” if Evers won the nomination and became the Democrat to challenge Walker in November.
Soglin outlined a plan for funding public schools that he said would work by reducing reliance on shifting taxes to better fit the needs of the community.
“We need to reduce the local reliance on property tax. That is what is breaking the backs of the smaller communities,” Soglin said. “We need to replace it with either income or sales tax.”
In terms of addressing poverty, the gubernatorial candidates put forth varying ideas.
Roys and McCabe suggested a universal basic income could be an important factor in fostering greater socioeconomic equality.
“The bottom line is that we are watching more and more vulnerable workers see their employment out of their existence . . . we have got to deal with that reality and create financial stability and economic security for vulnerable workers,” McCabe said.
Wisconsin Democrats will vote for their party’s gubernatorial candidate on Aug. 14, with the winner taking on Walker this November in the general election.