MANITOWOC, Wis. -It's a crowded field of candidates in the running to replace retiring Wisconsin U.S. Senator Herb Kohl. Republicans include former governor Tommy Thompson, Dane County businessman Eric Hovde, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, and former congressman Mark Neuemann. Also, political newcomers George Lucia, John Schiess and Kip Smith. Tammy Baldwin is the lone Democrat.
Thursday night, March 22nd, five of the eight candidates took part in a public forum put on by the Manitowoc County TEA Movement. It was a chance for lakeshore voters to get to know the candidates vying for the soon vacant senate seat.
"We need someone who's going to speak for you in the United States Senate," Kip Smith told the crowd. "Not just to say the stuff, but to mean it, and to mean what they do and do what they say they're going to do."
Each candidate took turns taking unscripted questions from the audience.
"If we don't get people back to work and start making products again in this country and become more competitive," Jeff Fitzgerald said. "we're in big trouble, and if we don't get our debt under control, that's another thing that's going to be a serious problem."
"The greatest threat to our country comes from within, not from without," John Schiess explained. "We need to get rid of the UN and pull that cancer out of our country."
Popular topics included the economy, healthcare and the constitution.
"What bill would you introduce to represent us?" asked an audience member.
"Definitely get rid of that Obamacare," said George Lucia. "It's a drag on small business. Then after Obamacare, we have to cut the government down to about 20% so it's 80% of its current size, back to 2008 levels."
"What does our constitution tell us as it relates to these matters?" Mark Neumann said about social issues. "There's room for disagreement on some of these matters but the bottom line, it comes back to this. So if you're talking religious freedoms, you look to your constitution. If you're talking about gun rights, you look to your constitution."
The Manitowoc County Tea Movement is planning another candidate forum after the primary.