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Voters to choose Baldwin's challenger in 2nd District

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
September 3, 2010

Chad Lee and Peter Theron are competing for the Republican nomination in the 2nd District Congressional race.


The winner in the Sept. 14 Republican primary will take on the incumbent, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.


Baldwin won a convincing victory over Theron in 2008.


The 2nd District includes Green County and the western half of Rock County, including Beloit but not Janesville.


The Gazette posed these questions to the candidates:


-- How do you propose to defeat a well-funded incumbent in a heavily Democratic district?


Lee: He said he'll rely on energy, good staff, use of electronic media to bridge the name-recognition gap and making unusual attacks on Baldwin, such as a series of yard signs that ties Baldwin to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and "bailouts."


Lee said he hopes his youth will help him garner votes from colleges in the district.


Lee credits Theron for fighting the federally funded Madison-to-Milwaukee passenger train, but he said it's a local and state issue, and Lee prefers to focus on jobs and the economy.


"If that's his No. 1 issue, then maybe he should've been running for mayor," Lee said.


Theron: He said he doesn't want to give away his strategy, but he will focus on how poorly Baldwin's politics jibe with those of her constituents.


"She is a liberal from Madison, and the outlying areas of this district, ... while they may be somewhat Democratic, are much more conservative, so I will be focusing on those areas because the conservative vote, I believe is much more energized than its ever been," he said.


Theron also believes his opposition to the passenger train, which he calls "a waste and indulgence of the liberal elite," is drawing widespread support.


-- What makes you the best Republican candidate?


Lee: He said his fundraising has far outpaced Theron, and his get-out-the-vote organization is ready to go.


"The polling has shown that at this point, there's not a lot going on (Theron's) side," which is why Lee says he is "going after Tammy."


Also, Lee said that as a small businessman, he is the only one who is not getting a paycheck from government, and that he has "real-world experience" creating jobs and dealing with budgets. His business employs 15 mostly part-time people, he said.


Theron: He said he would vote to repeal the Obama health-care reform legislation, while Lee would not. People should know whether their representatives are for or against it, Theron said.


"(Lee) is bowing to what he believes is Washington political reality. ...I believe when you don't take a stand, then Washington will tell you what stands to take," Theron said.


Lee responded: "From a realistic standpoint, the president is going to veto anything that's going to come across his desk to repeal it."


Lee said he prefers to fix the existing legislation.


-- Would you support an amnesty for illegal immigrants as part of immigration reform?


Lee: His wife is Hispanic and from the border area in Texas, "and it's a war zone down there. It feels you could get shot at any moment."


The solution is to secure the borders now, because the status quo encourages illegal behavior, he said.


The government should enforce existing law and streamline the system so prospective immigrants will believe they have a chance of crossing the border legally in a reasonable time, he said.


When pressed about amnesty for the millions of people here illegally, Lee said once the borders are secured, he would favor "finding a way to find a streamlined process for them to become legal immigrants."


Theron: "No. We tried it once before, and that's the reason we have the problems we have now."


The solution is to secure our borders "and then with that border security, move to more strictly enforcing employer sanctions" against those who knowingly hire people who are here illegally.


Theron wrote in a May news release, in which he criticized Democrats for giving the president of Mexico a standing ovation in a speech to Congress, that the Democrats were applauding a "hostile foreign power."


Theron said he considered Mexico a hostile power because President Felipe Calderon was criticizing the Arizona immigration law.



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