Photo courtesy of Flickr

This has been an unusual election cycle in Wisconsin.

The Republicans held out hope that Tommy Thompson would come out of retirement to take on Russ Feingold, only to embrace an unknown businessman after a firery speech at a Tea Party rally.  Scott Walker for Governor has been a foregone conclusion since 2006, but the Democrats had to drag Tom Barrett kicking and screaming into the race, and he still hasn’t shown a burning desire for the office.

But there has been one race that every two-bit politician in the state is interested in – Lt. Governor. Who knew Number Two was such a popular spot? This crowd of 10 candidates; one Libertarian, four Democrats and five Republicans are spending hard earned money and time to convince us to vote for someone who will have to think up something useful to do.

Terry Virgil is running on the Libertarian ticket. He gets to wait until November to face the major party candidates, which will be thinned in the Sept. 14 primary.

On the Republican side Rebbeca Kleefish, Nick Voegeli, David RossBrett Davis and Robert Gerald Lorge are seeking the nod, while Spencer CoggsTom NelsonHenry Sanders and James Schneider would like to represent the Democrats on the general ballot.

Every candidate is focused on the economy, job creation, taxes, health care and education.

Each falls squarely within their party’s line on jobs and the economy- the Republicans are all for lowering personal and corporate taxes, eliminating governmental roadblocks to development  and looking at tort reform to encourage business development and growth. Democratic candidates believe in using incentives to keep and bring businesses to the state and more investment in education, training and alternative technologies to increase job opportunities.

Everyonr promised to fight the use of segregated funds, such as transportation dollars, to balance the state budget. Many even noted the recent Supreme Court ruling that Gov. Doyle violated the constitution when he raided the medical malpractice fund, which has now led to an even larger state budget hole.

Education is the key to every candidate’s vision for recovery and growth in Wisconsin. Each one said education is important, there should be investment in technical colleges for job training and there has to be accountability within our schools. But the specifics are all over the place. Davis has worked for the reforms necessary to make the state eligible for “Race to the Top” money,  favors school choice ranging from open enrollment to virtual schools, but he has also worked to cap virtual school enrollment. Coggs was a vocal opponent to the idea of mayoral control within MPS. Kleefish would like to break MPS into smaller districts, expanded school choice and add merit pay for teachers.

Health care splits the candidates along party lines again, with the Democratic candidates in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act while the Republicans oppose a government takeover of health care. Davis has worked to allow businesses and individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines and would like to see more wellness programs in companies. On the other hand, Nelson has worked for legislation that requires insurance companies to cover treatments for autistic children and cochlear implants for children. He has also championed expanded access to BadgerCare for underinsured and uninsured residents.

And some of the candidates have their own ideas. If elected, Schneider would request that the governor appoint him Secretary of Commerce, so he can bring his economic development skills to the table; Kleefish wants to be the chief marketer for the state in an effort to attract businesses  and Lorge will be the Governor’s “representative” to all of the political entities within the state.

On an interesting note, Kleefish lists traditional values as an important part of her campaign, citing the need for concealed carry legislation as a necessary right to protect those very values.

So after wading through eight websites, four questionaires and a telephone interview, I have come to the conclusion that you can decide to vote Republican or Democrat in this primary and pick any one of the corresponding candidates and you’ll be happy. It’s not like the Lt. Governor has any constitutionally defined duties — so all their campaigning and posturing on issues and positions is equivelent to throwing cash down the drain.

While I typically tell people to take their privelage to vote seriously, this is a ballot where you can simply throw a dart.

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