With Joe Parisi's overwhelming victory in the race for Dane County executive, the race begins to fill the Assembly seat that he will be vacating. The 48th Assembly district, which includes the Southside of Madison, Monona, McFarland and the town of Dunn, is strongly Democratic, meaning most of the focus will be on the Democratic primary.
The first Democrat in the race is Bethany Ordaz, a staffer for Rep. Jocasta Zamarippa (D-Milwaukee), and a former organizer for SEIU.
In an interview with Ordaz, the 29-year-old native of Peoria, Illinois, who has lived in Madison for eight years, said her experience in the labor movement made her an ideal candidate to fight back against the governor's assault on worker rights.
"It's so personal for me," she said. "The day Walker announced the budget repair bill I could think of the exact people this was targeting -- the homecare workers I helped organize, the nurses at UW."
In addition, Ordaz says her Mexican-American background would distinguish her in a body in which only two Latinos have ever served. If elected, Ordaz would be the first Latino to represent a district other than the heavily-Hispanic Milwaukee district that Zamarippa currently represents.
"The bottom line is the Latino population is growing immensely in Madison and Wisconsin," she said. "It's a young population. These are the kids who are going to be in school and hopefully going to college and looking for jobs soon."
A down-the-line progressive, Ordaz believes Democrats have too often backed down from a fight over principles in recent years.
"We had complete control last session and we didn't do anything because people were afraid. You have to be willing to lose your seat over some things."
What is that something? Stand up for worker rights, protect public education and health from cuts and stand up against privatization.
Ordaz, who first moved to Wisconsin to work for United Council, the group that represents students of the UW System, is skeptical of the plan to establish UW-Madison as a public authority, a model supported by the governor and UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin.
"I don't think Scott Walker's helping anybody by basically privatizing the university and cutting financial aid," she said. "It sounds like it's more for out-of-state students with private donor parents instead of the kids down the street."
She also fears impending measures that make voting harder, such as the elimination of same-day registration and Voter ID.
"We need people to push harder, and we don't get that when people like me sit out," she concluded. "I want to be a fighter for the 48th."
For talk of the other potential candidates, read Joe Tarr's post today on the subject.