Wisconsin’ Democrats are waiting breathlessly for the white smoke to come from Tom Barrett’s chimney, hoping that Milwaukee’s mayor will decide to head west and lead the state into a liberal nirvana. But as they follow Barrett’s every move, there already is a declared Democrat candidate: Jared Christiansen.

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Jared Christiansen, the only declared Democrat for Wisconsin governor.

Christiansen is an 18-year-old from Ellsworth.  He has worked for McDonald’s for the past three years and is on track to become the second-assistant manager at his location. He is a Deputy Cadet Commander in the Civil Air Patrol and he volunteers in his hometown. Christiansen attends a virtual high school and takes care of himself and the family home for two weeks each month, while his parents work as OTR truck drivers.

He is just as qualified to be governor as is Barrett. In fact, I think he is more qualified to run this state, given his long record of employment in the private sector. In addition to his three years at McDonald’s, Christiansen held down his first job while a middle schooler, washing dishes and serving food in the school cafeteria. His experience at both jobs taught him the importance of customer service, being fiscally responsible, managing people, and dealing with crisis on the spot. 

Can that possibly be better preparation for the governor’s office than the 25 years Tom Barrett has served as Milwaukee’s mayor, congressional representative and state assemblyman?  In a word, YES.

The one thing Christiansen has that Barrett doesn’t is a day-to-day dealing with the taxpayer. He has seen the effects of the recession first hand, as people move from designer dinners to McDonald Dollar Meals. Christiansen is helping his neighbors and family, who have seen their wallets lighter from job layoffs and high taxes, by stepping up and helping them directly by raking the leaves, carrying their groceries and getting a job to help pay the bills. And Christiansen knows what he wants, without waffling or stringing people along.

On his website, Christiansen cites listening, patience, respect and morals as tantamount to being a good governor. He has a D behind his name, but his political influence is John F. Kennedy, probably the most conservative Democrat in modern times. Christiansen is more moderate than the Wisconsin Democratic Party probably desires, claiming he will comb ideas from both parties to ensure bi-partisanship and smooth running government.

I don’t agree with all of Christiansen’s policy statements, but some of his ideas are clearly right of center. He would increase the payment rate from Indian casinos from 7.9% to 10 % and build a budget from the zero up, based on needs. In an effort to save and bring more jobs to Wisconsin, Christiansen proposes a freeze on corporate income taxes (how Republican of you, Jared) and to hold tuition increases at UW down by freezing or even cutting the number of non-classroom personnel hired. And as a virtual high school student, Christiansen is open to options in public education.

However, Christiansen also wants to see more use of alternative energy, allow criminals to spend time in “rehab” centers, raise income tax rates on the richest taxpayers (which will ensure corporate leaders will leave the state) and  expand BadgerCare for everyone.

The only problem I see the Dems would have with Christiansen is he is not a party insider and has no name recognition. But if the Dems would simply welcome him into the fold, invest some money and fund-raising into his effort and campaign for him, Christiansen could bring the Democrats to the party in 2010.

Whether he could dance with Walker or Neumann is a whole other question.

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