Robin Vos To Face Opponent After All
Last opponent quit after nasty personal attacks. Democrat Joel Jacobsen will now run.
It turns out Assembly Speaker and Republican Rep. Robin Vos will have an opponent in the fall election after all. Joel Jacobsen, a longtime Burlington resident who ran unsuccessfully against Vos in 2018, has decided to run again.
Jacobsen had been supporting Robert Prailes in the race, but Prailes withdrew due to “some really ugly and personal attacks” against his family, as Urban Milwaukee reported. He concluded his “family’s health and happiness could be jeopardized” if he ran.
“Bob was like the Mother Theresa out here,” says Susan Sheldon, a longtime Democrat activist in the area. Prailes ran Chocolate Fest, got Kiwanis awards and ran its soccer team, she notes. “People don’t feel safe running against Vos.”
Vos, however, had his own complaint, noting someone sent him dog feces in the mail.
Vos won national ridicule for telling Wisconsinites to get out to the polls, saying it was “incredibly SAFE to vote,” while wearing head-to-toe protective gear.
“Vos’ refusal to delay voting during the height of the pandemic put people at grave risk,” Jacobsen noted on his campaign web site. “Voting should be safe and accessible for all Wisconsinites without creating artificial barriers aimed to suppress.”
Jacobsen has a BS in Finance and Economics from UW-LaCrosse and is now retired from a career in the insurance, real estate and hospitality industries. He previously served as an alderman in the city of Burlington.
Jacobsen also calls for increased funding of K-12 public schools and for the state to “reinvest in higher education both to our world-class UW System and our essential Technical Colleges while making these schools more affordable to our students.”
That may not be a platform to gain a majority in this district. “It’s very, very red out here,” says Sheldon, who is working as Jacobsen’s campaign manager, and has worked on past campaigns. “Vos once told me ‘you can try all you want, but it’s the safest district in the country.’”
The district’s boundaries avoid the city of Racine and include only rural areas and small municipalities, including Burlington, the Town of Dover, villages of Rochester, Union Grove and Yorkville, and portions of Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant.
But there’s been a “sea change” in the area this year, Sheldon says.
“It’s amazing how the political climate has changed,” Jacobsen tells Urban Milwaukee. “People are very fired up,” both by “the chaos” of the Trump administration, and how Vos and Republican leaders handled the state’s spring election during the pandemic, he notes.
“My campaign funding is 10 times higher than in 2018,” Jacobsen says. “People want to give money because of Mr. Vos.” He estimates that about 30 percent of donations are from outside the district.
Vos could lose 5 points in his election margin due to all the ridicule over his handling of the election, Jacobsen estimates. But Vos won with 61 percent in 2018, compared to 39 percent for Jacobsen. That’s a huge margin to close and Jacobsen doesn’t expect to do it.
He is running, he says, to make sure as many Democrats as possible turn out in his district, to drive up the vote for all other races this November, including the U.S. presidential race. And he intends to go door-to-door campaigning as he did in 2018, when the biggest issue was “health care, health care and the cost of prescriptions.” What with the pandemic, he notes, “there’s even more fear about this issue than there was in 2018.”
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