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Who'll replace Robson?

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
February 3, 2010
— Who will run for Judy Robson’s seat in the state Senate?

Robson, D-Beloit, announced last week she would not run again for the seat she has held since 1998.


So what Democrat will run for her seat in November?


It appears one of the first people state Democrats had in mind was Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden.


Spoden said he’s received “quite a few calls” from Democratic leaders urging him to run, but he said family and professional considerations weigh heavily against it. He said he will run for re-election for sheriff in November.


“It’s very flattering. I’m very honored they’d consider me for that, but I also feel I have a responsibility to the citizens of the county who elected me sheriff,” Spoden said.


“The fact is, I really enjoy what I’m doing,” Spoden said.


Speculation about other potential candidates has included Dan Schooff, a former state Assembly member from Beloit who is now deputy secretary of the state Department of Administration.


Schooff said Tuesday he is honored but not interested.


On the Republican side, a political newcomer, Rick Richard of Janesville Township, has been running for the seat since at least last summer.


Richard, 42, is co-owner of RD Worldwide, a management search and temporary staffing firm. The other owner is his wife, Diedre Richard, who was elected to the Janesville School Board last April.


The current Assembly members from Robson’s district, all Democrats, have to be considered, Robson said. Those representatives are Kim Hixson of Whitewater, Mike Sheridan of Janesville and Chuck Benedict of Beloit.


Benedict said he’s happy in the Assembly.


“I would never say never, but I’m not at all actively looking for it,” Benedict said.


The Gazette was not able to reach Sheridan for a comment, but Robson said she didn’t think he would try jumping to the Senate because he wields considerable power as speaker of the Assembly.


City council and county board members in the district also are possibilities, Robson said.


As for Hixson: “Thinking about it, but no decision yet,” he said.


Another Democrat thinking about it is Sam Liebert, a Janesville native who worked for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, which catapulted him into a job as deputy White House liaison to the Department of Agriculture.


Liebert said he’s always wanted to come home and run for public office.


“I am looking into it right now, but that’s about all I can say about it,” Liebert said, citing federal law that forbids government employees from running for partisan office.


Whoever steps forward, “there’s lots of time,” Robson said. “I really gave adequate time for some folks to mull it over.”


The filing deadline is July 13, and candidates typically announce in June, Robson said.


Robson had this advice for her replacement: “Work very hard on economic development and jobs, jobs jobs. And listen, listen, listen, so you can be a good, effective legislator. … And be available and accessible.”


Jobs, by the way, is the watchword of the campaign of Richard who is—so far—the only Republican in the race.



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