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Freshman State Representative to be challenged by Rice Lake businessman
A state assembly district that went Republican after more than a quarter century of Democratic control, will have a Democratic challenger. Mike Simonson reports.
From 1978 until 2010, Democrats held the 75th Assembly District…which stretches from Spooner to Chetek in northwestern Wisconsin. That’s when Republican Roger Rivard was elected in the 2010 Wisconsin red tide. Now Democrat Stephen Smith of Shell Lake wants to get the seat back in blue hands.
“The impact has been chaos. Things aren’t working in Wisconsin. Things aren’t working in America. That’s why we have elections, for change. And we’ll see what happens after this election.”
The former owner of a school bus company in Rice Lake also says he wants to change what he says is inequity in public school funding.
“Why are children in northwestern Wisconsin not as valuable in dollar amounts to the State of Wisconsin as the school children of southeastern Wisconsin.”
Smith is the son of former 75th Assembly Democratic Representative Patricia Smith. She was elected in 1978, the first Democrat to hold that seat since 1934.
Only two days after Smith's announcement, Rivard says he will run for a second term, in spite of threats to boycott his business.
Rice Lake Republican Rivard says he got into the Assembly race in 2010 with his eyes wide open.
“Everybody says ‘Is it what you expected?’ I said ‘Absolutely’. It kind of played out a little differently than I thought but I knew about the structural deficit, I knew about the budget repairs that we needed to do. I knew about the business climate. I knew about all this stuff. And we’re not done. We’re just not done.”
Rivard says he underestimated the reaction to his support of the bill stripping most collective bargaining rights from public employee unions.
“We now have a government by intimidation. You threaten people with their job. You threaten people’s livelihood. The people in my Real Estate office were threatened with their livelihood if they supported me. People who had signs up in their yard were threatened.”
But Rivard says he has no regrets, and will run again even if his Realty business suffers.
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