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Three seeking Republican nod in 27th Senate District primary

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GINA R. HEINE
September 3, 2010

The three Republican candidates in the Sept. 14 primary for the 27th Senate District say state leaders are headed in the wrong direction. Instead, they propose tax incentives to attract growth.


Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, is seeking re-election to a fourth term and will face Tom Lamberson of Verona, Kurt Schlicht of Cross Plains or Tony Wickersham of Evansville.


-- What do you think is the most important issue in the race?


All three candidates said jobs and the economy are the top issue.


Lamberson: "I think we need to reduce taxes first, reduce and eliminate some regulations, some mandates. I just think we're too highly taxed, too highly regulated," he said.


He would reduce or eliminate combined sales reporting, which has especially hurt manufacturing, and alternative energy mandates that drive up utility costs and drastically increase the cost of manufacturing, he said.


Schlicht: He said the economy is the main reason he's running.


"I'm so frustrated," he said.


His campaign rally is "confronting the status quo with common sense."


Lawmakers need to get rid of the restrictive regulations for businesses and lower taxes, he said. The state needs to break its reputation of being anti-business, he said.


Wickersham: "We have to bring these jobs back from China or else we'll never get out of this issue," he said.


He said he understands the issue firsthand because he was laid off from Wisco Industries in Oregon in January 2009.


He would increase tax incentives for companies who want to do work here while adding an "extra tax" to businesses that manufacture products in China "to force them to maybe come back to Wisconsin."


-- The state faces a projected $2.5 billion budget deficit as it begins working on the 2011-13 budget. How would you balance the budget? What specific programs or services would you cut? How would you increase revenue?


Lamberson: "There's a large amount of waste in government," he said. "I think we need to basically take a look at where our money is being spent. If it has to be line-item, it has to be line-item."


He would consider looking at areas that got the largest increases in the last few years.


"I'm absolutely sure that there's millions of dollars that could be eliminated," he said.


Instead of stifling business growth, he would encourage growth with tax incentives and removing "ridiculous obstacles" such as alternative energy mandates based on global warming, which he said is a lie.


Schlicht: "There's so much fat," he said.


Much of the deficit is because of pensions and entitlements, he said.


"Public employees will have to pay a larger portion of their health care needs," he said. "That will be a huge cost savings."


He would push to end the high-speed rail project and would like to see the state file suit against the federal government for "Obamacare."


Cutting taxes for job creators and the middle class would increase revenues.


"We're going to make it a real positive place for businesses to get started and flourish," he said.


Wickersham: He would cut legislators salaries, "maybe 10 to 20 percent."


"I know they voted themselves a raise a couple years ago. Maybe that could pick up the difference," he said.


"I don't see anything we need to cut," he said. "It seems like (programs are) under-funded already."


He supports lowering taxes to stimulate growth. Businesses would hire more, increasing revenues from income taxes, he said.


-- What makes you the best candidate?


Lamberson: He's raised his family and been in the working world all his life, experiencing the ups and downs of the economy. He can represent people better because he doesn't have a political background, he said.


He said he's a conservative running on the Republican ticket, but it's not about the parties, he said, but about electing people who understand what's going on and sincerely trying to do something.


Schlicht: He runs a successful business that he built from the ground up, and brings experience from the municipal and county levels, he said. The Senate's actions trickle down to the county and local levels, where he said he understands the effects.


"That will fit perfectly with what I want to do to try to get Wisconsin back on its feet," he said.


Wickersham: "I think I'd worker harder for the 27th because I actually know what it feels like to be laid off, and I don't like to hear about places laying off," he said. "It gets frustrating. Am I going to lose my car? My house? What am I going to lose? I don't think anybody should have to go through that."



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