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Election Preview: Wisconsin 83rd State Assembly District

A retired school librarian takes on the Republican incumbent in a rematch in Nov. 6 election.

A longtime school librarian from Muskego is challenging the Republican incumbent in the 83rd State Assembly District.

now retired, was a librarian in the Muskego-Norway School District for decades and is now a volunteer tax preparer. He is the Democrat in the race.

The incumbent, Dave Craig, is a former congressional aide to Paul Ryan and Village of Big Bend trustee. He was elected to the state Assembly in 2011 in a special election. Craig defeated Brownlow in that race.

The 83rd District seat has new boundaries this year in the wake of redistricting prompted by population shifts in the 2010 census. The district now encompasses portions of Muskego, Waukesha, Vernon, Hales Corners Franklin, East Troy and Waterford.

Wisconsin state representatives serve two-year terms and earn $49,943 annually. They also receive a per diem of $88 per day for each day they work in Madison.

Candidate profiles

  • Republican Dave Craig (incumbent)
  • Democrat Jim Brownlow

Craig and Brownlow previously faced off in a special election about 18 months ago, as the seat was vacated by Scott Gunderson, who took a position with the Department of Natural Resources. Craig won the race handily, but as redistricting has now included portions of Milwaukee County and removes Mukwonago, both candidates admit that it's a little different mix of constituents to woo in November.

Patch talked with both candidates and it became clear there are issues that each has an opinion on, making a definite line between either side. Here's a brief review of those issues, and what the candidates had to say about them.

Obamacare/Affordable Care Act

Brownlow: Supports the new health care law from the Obama administration, saying that Wisconsin will be well served by it, given that "we're a strong insurance state. We have a healthy insurance industry, and I believe it will do well under the Afforable Care Act. I feel government can regulate the insurance industry to the point where it can provide good and quality care to everyone, which is great news to the middle class."

He specifically cited an example of allowing for coverage of children under their parents' plan until the age of 26, an extension of one year from the previous allowance.

Craig: Opposes the new law, stating that its implementation "squeezes out smaler insurance companies in this state" because its requirements would be sustainable only by larger companies, reducting competition. He said he was against the federal regulation of what should be a states' issue.

"Just the fact alone that the federal government would assume control over what is supposed to be within the power of individual states makes this law unconstitutional," Craig said.

The Economy/Job Creation

Brownlow: Feels the state should "focus on its strengths in creating a stronger economy" and supports development of more green energy technology, including wind and solar. He cited Wisconsin's sluggish recovery under Scott Walker, and the Act 10 legislation's impact on public unions as a cause for change.

"Wisconsin is way behind the rest of the nation, and we need a strong and growing economy; my opponent is on record of being in step with the governor and will follow him off that cliff, which is not good for the middle class," he said.

Craig: Opposes subsidies to businesses based on the type of energy they provide, calling it "picking winners and losers" where government doesn't belong. Craig called the state's mining bill that was ultimately defeated "low hanging fruit to provide thousands of jobs in the state." While the bill stood to streamline the process of issuing permits, a line was drawn between environmentalists and those saying that the bill would provide much-needed jobs to the state.

Regarding Act 10, Craig said it provided the state with a balanced budget, and as school districts have begun to operate under it, have realized savings from the ability to allow competition from insurance carriers to provide lower healthcare costs.

As he said he was currently working on legislation to "allow the appellate process to challenge the actions of activist judges."

The Environment

Brownlow: Feels the voting record of Craig has been poor when it comes to Wisconsin's environment. He cited  Craig's support of various bills including one regarding the permitting process for wetlands (SB 368) and another that allows cities to opt out of their own comprehensive plans (AB 303) for development as unfriendly to Wisconsin's natural resources.

Brownlow said "it's no surprise that Craig's record rates 17 to 18 percent on the environment based on a review by the League of Conservation voters."

Craig: Says he is supportive of the environment, but is concerned over the latitude some state and federal agencies have been given in their authority.

"The bills I supported mainly require a timeline for responses from the DNR in granting or not granting permits. There is a lack of regulation over the power these agencies have, and I believe this is a civil liberties issue."

He added, "On many of these issues, we've had a year or more since they've been passed, and the environment has not suffered."

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