It appears both the Democrats and Republicans will hold primary elections Aug. 11 for the 1st Congressional District seat.
First-term incumbent Bryan Steil of Janesville faces a challenge from fellow Republican John Baker, an ex-Marine from Mukwonago.
Steil filed enough nominating signatures to qualify for the ballot. Baker’s candidacy application was still pending Tuesday, but Baker said state elections officials told him he would be approved after he fixes errors on his nomination papers.
On the Democratic side, two attorneys from the eastern end of the district, Josh Pade and Roger Polack, both qualified for the ballot.
Steil, 39, a Janesville attorney, was elected to the House in 2018 after longtime Rep. Paul Ryan decided not to run again. Steil has supported President Donald Trump with few, if any, reservations throughout his term.
Steil has the advantages of a huge war chest compared with his Democratic opponents and a district that leans Republican.
Steil said he has enjoyed much support from constituents.
“Regardless of who I face following the Democratic primary election in August, I look forward to a positive debate on the issues and about the future of our country,” Steil said in a statement.
Steil listed top issues as combating the coronavirus, bringing back jobs and getting the economy growing again.
“It is vital that our communities have strong representation and leadership in Washington. I’m proud to work for the people of southeast Wisconsin, and I ask for their trust for another two-year term,” Steil said.
Baker, 62, said he finds Steil “a little bit too laid back and too passive. I don’t hear him standing up for the Republican Party the way a Republican needs to.”
Baker, a machinist, general foreman and plant supervisor, stresses on his website that he is “a patriot and a Christian.” He uses the motto “Take back America.”
Baker said Steil should have been more outspoken about the need to reopen the economy after it was closed for the coronavirus pandemic, and on the topic of recent rioting.
Steil also should speak out against voting by mail, which Baker sees as “one of biggest frauds in world.”
“I’m not saying he’s not a decent Republican. He is. I voted for him last time because he was the only one to vote for,” Baker said. “I don’t think Bryan has the aggressiveness that I do. … I just believe I can do a better job.”
On the Democratic side, Polack, 37, emphasized his working-class upbringing in Racine and his experience working in the U.S. Department of Treasury in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
Polack was an intelligence analyst and senior policy adviser for Treasury. His service included 20 months in Afghanistan, where he worked to plug a Taliban financing pipeline and expose corruption in Afghanistan, he said.
Polack said he will not take money from corporate political action committees. He said “fixing America’s broken health care system” is his top priority.
“There are still people who work for a living who cannot afford health insurance. And for millions more who do have coverage, they live in constant worry about paying out-of-pocket costs for treatment or prescriptions, or worry that their plan won’t cover them when they actually need care,” Polack said.
Pade, 40, of Bristol, said in a statement that the country is “in desperate need of compassionate leadership dedicated to bringing us together as equals as it faces multiple crises.”
Pade said his work during the financial crisis and in global operation risk and crisis management prepared him to address challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In this time of division and struggle for justice, Josh has the courage and understanding to use the platform of a congressional seat from a diverse district to be a repairer of the breach. He is here to listen and he is here to fight,” his statement reads.
Pade said he is “not a typical politician who shows up election year making false promises. He worked hard to provide for his family after his father’s untimely death, put himself through college and built a successful career in business.”
Voters may vote in the Democratic or Republican primary on Aug. 11 but not both.