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U.S. Senate candidate profile: former state Rep. Mark Neumann

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MADISON -- Four Republican candidates are vying to take on Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin for Wisconsin's U.S. Senate seat. The GOP Senate primary is Tuesday, August 14th. FOX6 News is profiling the candidates for U.S. Senate. Next up, former House Representative Mark Neumann.

Mark Neumann is 58-years-old.  He is from East Troy and now lives in Nashotah. He's a graduate of UW-Whitewater, and Evangelical Lutheran, married with three kids and four grandchildren. He has a varied professional resume that includes a stint in Congress.

Now, he wants to go back to the capitol.

He met his wife in a fourth grade Sunday school class and the two eventually got married.

" We were confirmed together and dated all through high school. I have been the same kind of person all the way through," Neumann says.

So it's no surprise that any major decision, like launching a campaign for public office, goes through Sue Neumann.

When he first broached the idea of a bid for the open U.S. Senate seat, just two years after a failed campaign for governor, she told him no.

That was the answer for months until she became convinced that his skills were needed to help the country avoid a fiscal meltdown and a debt crisis.

Neumann says, "she came to me and said go ahead and do it because we want you to serve the country and my whole family was behind it that the service to our country to balance the budget."

Now, Sue Neumann is a fixture on the campaign trail. Mark Neumann says that campaign is about two things. "Balancing the budget and repealing Obamacare," he says. "Its conservative principles that will determine who will win the primary and I believe the general as well. We saw Scott Walker win here a very conservative agenda and he's doing a great job as governor."

Neumann has a long record of being a fiscal hawk. Perhaps he's best known for his days in Congress. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 as part of Newt Gingrich's Republican Revolution.

The Clinton-Era Conservative movement promised a contract with America. Politics in Washington became a full contact sport, with Republicans battling with Bill Clinton.

"We fought our way through every day of the week but we got the budget through by cutting spending," Neumann says.

But he soon ran afoul of Gingrich. Neumann wouldn't agree to GOP spending proposals and Gingrich threw him off a congressional committee as a political punishment.

Neumann says, "When push comes to shove and somebody says do something I don't believe is right for America even if it is Republican leadership, I'm going to do what is right for America because that is what this is all about."

He ran for re-election in 1996 and found himself in a nail-biter.

He and his brother Ken poured over the numbers and it seemed he had won.

"Ken and I were sitting in a van going over these numbers," he says. "These numbers don't add up here."

Neumann won his second term.

He then decided it was time to take on Russ Feingold in a bid for the U.S. Senate. That was also a two point race, but this time Neumann lost.

"At the end of the day, there's something more important than winning or losing," he says. "The next morning when you get out of bed and look at yourself in the mirror, knowing that you have given it your all, done your very best."

In 2010, he and Scott Walker clashed in a primary battle for governor. Walker trounced him with 59 to 39 percent of the votes.

Neumann says, "in that race we won 44 out of 72 counties and I think its important to see after the primary ended I went to work for Scott Walker."

Neumann now says if he had known what kind of governor Walker would have become, he never would have ran against him in the first place. But the primary loss feeds the notion that he can't win statewide.

However, he says this race is tailor-made for his talents. He believes balancing the budget, ending yearly deficits with spending cuts, and creating a business friendly climate to grow the economy is the only way to lower the nation's $16-trillion debt burden.

"This isn't about republicans and democrats its about the future of the United States of America. My kids and my grandkids deserve an America where the opportunity to live the American dream is alive and well," Neumann says.

He says the United States is inching closer to a debt crisis similar to the one in Europe... leading to doubts about the future of the European Union and causing huge fluctuations in the financial markets.

Neumann says, "I will fight morning, noon and night to get government spending under control so our children will have a future in our great nation."

He has by far the most specific plan for slashing government spending.

"We laid out 150 specific line items as to what we would start with interns of wasteful government spending," he says. "So the plan is here and it is ready to go and there is numbers in it."

He is also a staunch Social Conservative... an Evangelical Lutheran whose pro-life beliefs have become a campaign issue.

"Government telling Religion what to do?  That should scare you to death."

He says, "I think the conservative base is going to come home, they've got a proven conservative in the race and I think they're going to come home to us as this race goes on."

He believes Christian principles should guide public policy.

Neumann says, "it's very important. I consider myself a Christian and live by Christian principles and I hope by the end of the day that is how we are remembered. As a candidate I would hope the values and principles taught in our church and across America I would hope those values are what we use to make decisions to govern our land. So, its a very important part of who I am."

Neumann has had a varied career. He started as a high school math teacher, then became a home builder and eventually became a millionaire in the housing boom.

And as he told FOX6 a couple of years ago, he continues to seek public office to influence the direction of the country for his grandchildren, children, and that girl he met back in fourth grade.
Neumann says, "when you get up in the morning you have to look at yourself in the mirror and I hug my grandkids before I left to come over here I've been married to my beautiful wife for thirty-eight years. I am comfortable in who I am. I know the principles and views I stand for."

The winner of the August 14th primary election takes on Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin in the November Election.

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