Fred Wade is not happy with the dialogue the 77th Assembly District primary has fostered. Rather, he doesn't believe the race between him, Dianne Hesselbein, Brett Hulsey, John Imes and Doug Zwank has fostered much of a dialogue on important issues facing the district's residents.
"There has been very little give-and-take," Wade told me at Michelangelo's on Tuesday. "The other day a group in Middleton gave us each 60 seconds to present our case!"
The 68-year-old attorney was first motivated to get into the race by his frustration with the expansive veto power given to Wisconsin governors, which he believes is unconstitutional and runs contrary to the most basic tenants of republican government. When asked why more lawmakers aren't making an issue of the veto, he says "maybe they're Democrats-in-name-only, or Republicans-in-name-only, for that matter."
However, since he entered into the race, the central theme to his message has been the need to preserve education, the UW and public services, who he says are a key component of the 77th district constituency.
After facing tough budget deficits in the past two budget cycles, Wade believes "all the low-hanging fruit has already been found" in terms of possible cuts. The future spending reductions, he says, will "likely be draconian."
He believes the focus on protecting public sector jobs distinguishes him from his two main competitors, Dianne Hesselbein and Brett Hulsey, who he says have chosen other focuses, such as public education and the environment.
"We're all for the environment, we're all for school funding... I'm saying we have to deal with the deficit in a way that preserves public sector jobs."
Moreover, if lawmakers aren't willing to stand up for veto reform, Wade says many of their proposed policies, including school funding reform, are meaningless.
Although Wade is dismayed that veto reform is a "blindspot" for the many people who are "waving flags," "evoking the constitution," and "sometimes calling people un-American," he says the issue resonates with voters he speaks with during the campaign. Nevertheless, it will not get the publicity it deserves unless other candidates talk about it, he says.
"When I talked about this with Brett Hulsey he said 'Fred, I'm not going to charge up a hill unless I have an army behind me.'" Wade contends that the representative of the 77th should be the engine to that army, which he says should include Republicans.