19-year-old Janesville resident eyes 43rd Assembly bid

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Neil Johnson
Thursday, May 22, 2014

JANESVILLE—Herschel Brodkey, a 19-year-old Janesville Parker High School graduate, says he intends to take a semester off from UW-Madison to challenge 43rd Assembly District incumbent Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D–Milton, in the November election.

The Janesville resident, who just finished his freshman year at UW-Madison, will put aside his studies in political science, and potentially law school, to try to fire up a political career.

“They (Republicans) didn't have anybody running yet in this (43rd) spot. Why wait? I see it as a beautiful way to really get started in a career of my choice, politics,” Brodkey said in a Thursday phone interview.

The state Government Accountability Board's website on Thursday listed Brodkey as the lone Republican to officially declare candidacy in the 43rd. Brodkey lives at 2801 Deep Path Trail, Janesville, according to the GAB.

Jorgensen officially declared his candidacy Wednesday, according to the GAB. Both candidates have to file official paperwork with the state by June 2.    

On Thursday, Brodkey emailed a news release announcing his bid. The Gazette emailed Brodkey back for an interview and Brodkey responded by cellphone.  

He plans this summer to develop a campaign focused on hyper-local concerns of residents in the 43rd. He said he's tired of politicians who favor only big state issues. 

“In Milton there are people saying they don't want an interchange ramp and development built along I-90/39, and people won't do anything about it," Brodkey said. "In Albion, there's plans for a quarry that people say they don't want. These kinds of issues need to be addressed. They affect people's lives on a daily basis.”

Brodkey, who graduated from Parker last spring, said he has no past political experience.

A son of a local physician, Brodkey said he's a “conservative-minded guy” who'll “listen to anyone whether they've got a 'D' or an 'R' next to their name.”

He favors legislation he says would cut government waste. He pointed to his support for state legislation that prevents state payouts for school enrollment that are based on “estimated” headcounts for preschool students.

Republican Party of Rock County Chairman Tim Lindau called Brodkey a “good, young kid.” He said his group was aware of Brodkey's bid, and called it “legitimate.”

Lindau said his group is “keeping a distance” from any candidate because it's still waiting to see if other Republicans also want to run in the 43rd. That could spark a fall primary.

Jorgensen, a longtime state legislator, on Thursday said he was unaware of Brodkey's candidacy, and that he doesn't know Brodkey.

“If he ends up running, I guess I will get to know him fast,” Jorgensen said.

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