Republican U.S. Senate candidates gather for forum

MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election may be front and center on the statewide stage, but there’s another political fight going on in the background, as four Republican candidates are fighting for Wisconsin’s soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat. Those candidates went head-to-head Thursday, May 3rd during a forum hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) at the Milwaukee Athletic Club.

WMC is Wisconsin’s largest business association and is Republican-friendly territory. It was the first time Wisconsin’s Republican U.S. Senate candidates came together to answer questions, but many of their answers were similar.

Jeff Fitzgerald, Eric Hovde, Mark Neumann and Tommy Thompson are the Republican candidates vying for a shot at Wisconsin’s Senate seat, currently held by the retiring Herb Kohl. There were small differences between the four when it came to answering questions. When asked about Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, all said they support it, but Neumann went a step further.

“We did it much like you would pay off your home mortgage. We put out a plan to pay off the entire federal debt,” Neumann said.

When it comes to the corporate income tax rate, all four candidates said it needs to be lowered. Fitzgerald said entire perceptions need to be changed. “I’ve seen it throughout this whole session and throughout my whole Legislative career. We have to stop them from demonizing corporations,” Fitzgerald said.

Changing the stigma around manufacturing jobs was the common answer to the job skills gap. Hovde said a traditional four-year college education is not the right answer for everybody. “We’ve sent too many young people off to the four-year education and assumed that everybody has to go that path,” Hovde said.

In closing statements, the candidates focused on their Democratic opponent, Tammy Baldwin. Thompson said he likes his chances. “All the polls show that right now, the polls I’ve seen, I’m the only one that beats her,” Thompson said.

Baldwin’s office released a statement Thursday, saying Baldwin is taking on special interests and standing up for the middle class, while the Republican candidates are putting millionaires and corporate interests ahead of the people of Wisconsin.

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