Jeramey Jannene
Vote Tuesday

Statewide Democratic Candidates

Contested races for treasurer, secretary of state, lieutenant governor and U.S. senator.

By - Aug 8th, 2022 04:10 pm
DemocraticLogo" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

DemocraticLogo” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

The August 9 partisan primary features multiple contested races to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for statewide office, including treasurer, secretary of state and lieutenant governor.

The winner of each race will run again in the Nov. 8 general election against the Republican nominee, and in a handful of races, a nominee from the Constitution and Libertarian parties.

Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul are running unopposed, but every other race features a number of candidates.

For candidates for local partisan office, including sheriff, see our standalone pieces linked at the bottom of this article.

Want to see what’s on your ballot and where to vote? Visit MyVote Wisconsin to see your polling place and access a sample ballot.

Below you’ll find basic information copied verbatim from candidate campaign materials and a link to any available campaign resources. If you click on their name you’ll be brought to any stories written about the candidate. Candidate names are listed in alphabetical order.

Lieutenant Governor

Peng Her

Peng Her is an optimist.

His life and career have shown that courage, hard work, collaboration, advocacy,  and leadership can change lives, build stronger communities, and create a better Wisconsin. Now, he is running for Lieutenant Governor, because he believes elected leaders must find ways to work together and find solutions to the challenges we face.

A first-generation American, Peng and his family came to this country from Laos when Peng was 5 years old. Sponsored by a church in Oskaloosa Iowa, the Her family landed in Des Moines on December 12, 1976. They became United States Citizens in 1986.

After graduation from Oskaloosa High School, Peng put himself through Central College, working at a Pella Windows factory. He graduated with a BS in Physics. He earned his Master’s Degree in Applied Physics from DePaul University. After working at the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, the first Hmong Physicist to do so, Peng moved to Madison with his wife Mai Zong Vue.

One of his first milestones in Madison was as a small business owner, opening and running a successful restaurant for five years before selling the business. He has worked with the nationally renowned UW Madison Institute for Research on Poverty where he was part of the DreamUP Wisconsin initiative, a community-University collaboration to expand economic opportunity. Most recently, he has served as the founder and CEO of the Hmong Institute, a non-profit focused on providing education, training, and outreach to improve health care and educational achievement for communities of color around Wisconsin.

Peng has also served as the Associate Director for the Center for Resilient Cities, as Vice President of Promise Zones and Partnerships at the Urban League of Greater Madison, and as the Executive Director of the East Isthmus Neighborhood Planning Council where he facilitated community-driven planning and action and helped inspire residents.

Sara Rodriguez

Sara Russell Rodriguez has dedicated her career to solving problems. She is a nurse, community leader, public health professional, entrepreneur, proud mom, and candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin.

Sara currently serves as an elected member of the State Assembly representing Waukesha County and the western suburbs of Milwaukee. She was one of very few Democrats in the country to flip a Republican-held district.

Sara has a lifetime of experience working in public health and healthcare. A registered nurse, Sara saved lives and has protected our most vulnerable citizens. She is a small business owner, served as a vice president at a Fortune 100 company, and worked as an executive with a large local health care system.

Her approach to addressing problems is rooted in fact-based practices, science, and connecting with communities across Wisconsin. Sara was one of only 70 individuals chosen annually to be an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she led national and international outbreak investigations, and she worked to address chronic disease for a state healthcare agency.

Sara and her husband, who is originally from Mexico, have two children, a middle-schooler and a high-schooler, who attend public school in Waukesha County. Sara’s roots in Wisconsin run deep. Her grandparents owned a dairy farm in Richland County, and Sara was born in Milwaukee and raised in Brookfield. She holds degrees from Illinois Wesleyan University and Johns Hopkins University. After college, Sara served in the Peace Corps in Samoa, and she’s currently a proud Girl Scout troop leader.

Secretary of State

Doug La Follette

Doug made his first run for office in 1970 in the Democratic primary bid seeking to represent Wisconsin in Congress. He served a term as a state senator from 1972—1974 for Kenosha, during which time he authored legislation which provided family planning care to women for the first time in Wisconsin’s history. He was then elected Secretary of State and has served in that office for 44 years.

Throughout his years of public service he has fought against the corrupting influence of big money on politics. He has rejected high-spending campaign tactics and has followed the path of the great Wisconsin Senator Bill Proxmire, who depended on his relationship with the people to get elected.

Doug has deep environmental roots in this state. He started Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade, now Clean Wisconsin, and has been fighting for local, renewable energy since the 1970’s. He helped the late Gaylord Nelson organize the first Earth Day in 1970 and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the Assistant Director to the Mid-American Solar Energy Complex.

Doug La Follette earned his Ph.D in organic chemistry from Columbia University and went on to teach as an Assistant Professor of chemistry and ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Alexia Sabor

Alexia’s roots in Wisconsin began with her great-grandparents, who came to the United States from Greece in search of a better life. They settled in Sheboygan County, where her maternal grandmother was born.

Alexia was born south of the Wisconsin border, but moved here as a young adult, lured by our world-class university, beautiful natural areas, and rich, forward-thinking political history. She fell in love with the state and has been a proud Wisconsinite for 28 years.

Her husband Scott is a native Wisconsinite whose family originally hails from Florence County. They currently live in Madison with their high school-aged daughter and big, fluffy rescue dog, Blue.

Alexia’s parents taught her early on that when you’re faced with a problem, you roll up your sleeves and get to work fixing it. One way you do that is by voting for people that reflect your values. Most of her family members were working-class folks who voted for Democrats because they knew that was the party that supported fairer wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces for them.

From the time Alexia was a tiny child accompanying her mom to the polls, to the day she went with her grandmother so she could vote for the first time, Alexia has always known the right to cast your ballot in a fair election was a cornerstone of our democracy.

For the last fifteen years, Alexia has been a project manager for a nonprofit organization and a tech company. Before that, she worked for many years as a researcher and data manager for the university and state government.

She’s a graduate of the Emerge Wisconsin program, chair of the Dane County Democratic Party, and a volunteer board member for the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health. She has earned four degrees, including a Ph.D. in Forest Ecology & Management.

State Treasurer

Gillian Battino

I have spent the past year traveling across the state and meeting with families from all walks of life. Families who have actual problems – limited or no broadband, lack of access to essential healthcare services like mental health and addiction care, and crippling financial insecurity.

I’ve been asked so many times how we planned to address these issues from a federal standpoint. And the answer is that, in order to do so, we need action at both the federal and state level. Education, healthcare, and economic stability – particularly in our rural communities and non-wealthy metropolitan communities – are problems that can and must be addressed on the state level.

That’s why I’m running for Treasurer. To answer the questions all Wisconsin families have. To work with Governor Evers’ administration to address the needs of ALL of our communities. And to be a partner and resource to our new Democratic U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.

Over the years as a physician, too many patients have told me they have put off medical care for fear of financial struggle. In my practice, that means not knowing if you have breast cancer. That’s dangerous and scary. We have to do better for our communities. As Treasurer, in partnership with other
public servants, I know we can expand access to healthcare, help people with the cost of prescription drugs and improve education in our schools. These are policies that can change lives.

I am a University of WI – Madison fellowship-trained radiologist, and I currently live in Wausau, WI with my husband, German Shepherd, Stella, two teenage children, and their laundry.

Aaron Richardson

I am the 5th generation of my family to live in Fitchburg, WI. I love this state and look forward to making it even better as the next Treasurer for the state of Wisconsin.

I am currently the Mayor of Fitchburg. I was previously on the city council and on the Fitchburg Parks and Recreation Committee before that. I have had the opportunity to do many great things for Fitchburg. We are one of the most diverse communities in the state and one of the fastest growing as well. I am currently pushing to make Fitchburg a Gold Medal Bike Friendly Community.

I am a very proud graduate of UW-Green Bay and also have my MBA from UW-Whitewater. I worked for 16 years in marketing at various companies. I currently work for the Oregon School District in the tech department, helping students and teachers navigate technology.

One of my favorite things to do is coach my nephew’s basketball team. This past winter was my 6th year coaching youth basketball. In my free time I am out on the many bike trails in the state, golfing, playing board games, paddleboarding, beekeeping and much more!

Angelito Tenorio

I’m Angelito Tenorio, and my story begins with my parents. Mom and Dad immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in hopes of finding a better life. They decided to move to Wisconsin, and they fell in love with our great state because of the wonderful communities, schools, parks, and all of the opportunities here. My siblings and I were born and raised in Southeastern Wisconsin, and we grew up in the working class city of West Allis.

My parents believed in the American Dream, that if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could achieve success and make life better for your family and children.

My parents were both union postal workers, so I understand the importance of good paying union jobs. Mom and Dad instilled in me the values of hard work and giving back to the community.

I moved to Madison for my undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned my degree in Political Science. I’m a proud Badger, and I quickly became passionate about organizing, advocacy, and politics. I saw firsthand in the Capitol how who we have as our elected officials has a direct impact on our lives and wellbeing.

It’s so important that we elect leaders who represent our values and who will advocate for the issues affecting our communities.

During college, I enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. I proudly served and conducted my drill all across Wisconsin from Fort Atkinson to Watertown to Camp Douglas and Fort McCoy. I understand the importance of servant leadership. And it’s that same sense of duty and service that motivates me to run for Treasurer.

I know I can bring my experiences and vision to the office of state treasurer to serve all Wisconsites.

I’ve worked in political finance for a number of years building progressive power and now I do nonprofit development work for an environmental group called Wisconsin Conservation Voters. I joined Wisconsin Conservation Voters because I believe climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. My work has been focused on fighting for environmental justice by organizing supporters, advocating for conservation principles, and holding elected officials accountable. I’ve been a strong voice for clean energy, clean drinking water, and voting rights.

I believe I have what it takes to move Wisconsin forward.

As an Alderman in my hometown, West Allis, I understand the needs of local communities. I’ve been a progressive champion leading the efforts combating climate change, supporting affordable housing initiatives, and advocating for racial justice and LGBTQ+ rights. I’ve been on the frontlines of fighting to make our community the best it can for all people to succeed and achieve their fullest potential.

As the independently elected fiscal watchdog, I’ll always do what’s best for Wisconsinites by making sure that our tax dollars are accounted for and ensuring financial and budget transparency.

We can invest our state dollars in our communities across the state. We can fight to make healthcare more affordable, advocate for better schools, work to make our communities safer, and align our investments with our values.

I’m running for Wisconsin State Treasurer because I believe that together we can fight for financial accountability, economic security, and that we can invest in Wisconsin’s future.

U.S. Senator

Mandela Barnes

Mandela doesn’t come from a wealthy or well-connected family. But he does come from a proud union family. He was born in Milwaukee in one of the most impoverished and incarcerated Zip codes in the state. His dad worked 3rd shift at the GM factory and his mom was a Milwaukee school teacher for 30 years. Mandela’s parents taught him the values of hard work, perseverance, and the importance of a good education. Their union jobs were his family’s ticket into the middle class.

That’s a ticket too many people can’t get anymore, no matter how hard they work. Life is getting more expensive and it’s getting harder to get ahead.

A spark was lit in Mandela when he heard Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic convention, and he realized the problems he saw around him were things he could try to fix.

After college, Mandela became a community organizer in his hometown where he fought to bring good jobs to the community.

Frustrated by a lack of action from the lawmakers on the issues affecting working people and the middle class, Mandela decided to run for office. He became a Wisconsin State Representative at 27 and stood up to Scott Walker’s anti-union agenda. In 2018, Mandela helped Tony Evers kick Scott Walker out of office and, at 31, became Wisconsin’s first Black Lt. Governor — and only the second Black elected official statewide.

As Lt. Governor Mandela has worked closely with Governor Evers to help Wisconsin recover from the pandemic. Mandela has been central to the campaign to encourage communities across the state to get vaccinated, traveling to urban and rural areas to energize Wisconsin’s recovery.

Governor Evers recognized Mandela’s expertise and years of work on environmental issues by appointing him as chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change. The Task Force brought together a diverse coalition of farmers, environmental advocates, Indigenous leaders, and business executives to produce 55 concrete strategies for how Wisconsin can begin to address the climate crisis.

Just like when Mandela first ran for office, right now Wisconsinites deserve better than what they are getting. Wisconsin family farmers are being squeezed out by big corporations. The manufacturing jobs that sustained Mandela’s family are getting shipped overseas — the factory where his dad worked is a strip mall now. And China has been more than happy to pick up the slack.

Sadly, politicians like Senator Ron Johnson are standing in the way of progress. Johnson has turned his back on Wisconsin, delivering for his wealthy donors and peddling wild conspiracy theories and cynical attacks that divide us for political gain. Ron Johnson wants to pit Wisconsinites against each other. But Mandela knows that in every corner of the state, there is more that unites us than divides us.

Hard working families like Mandela’s don’t want handouts. They just want a fair shot.

Mandela understands the struggles of working people because they are his struggles too. He is running for Senate to rebuild the middle class and give everyone a fair shot at the American dream.

In the Senate, Mandela will bring a new perspective to Washington, to fight for opportunity for every child, person, and family in Wisconsin, regardless of their ZIP code. He will put middle class families first and stand up to the lobbyists and big corporations that have all the power in Washington. He will fight to create opportunity in every corner of Wisconsin, bring manufacturing back, create jobs by tackling climate change, and stand up for Wisconsin’s family farmers.

Prior to serving as Lt. Governor, Mandela was elected to the State Assembly where he emerged as a champion on issues of the environment, economy, education, racial justice, and health care. He became the chair of the legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus in his first term, became a national leader on gun violence prevention, and was recognized as one of the top pro-growth progressive leaders in the country. He also worked as a community organizer in Milwaukee and served as Deputy Director of Strategic Engagement for the State Innovation Exchange, sharing progressive best practices with state legislatures across the country.

Mandela serves on the Governor’s Health Equity Council, Wisconsin Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Wisconsin Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability, and the statewide 2020 Census Complete Count Committee.

Kou Lee

All I was able to remember about that night was the strange feeling of cold waterchurning below my neck.

The rest of what I know I owe to my parents.

Dad was leading us across the Mekong River, secured together with a rope, bamboo pieces, inflated plastic bags tied to our clothes. We were fleeing the atrocities in Laos, paddling our way toward the distant lights, what dad said was the light of freedom across on the side of Thailand.

Leaving behind his land, his farm, his livestock, nearly every one of his earthly possessions, my father had led us on a 19-day nighttime journey through dense mountain jungles. We were escaping the communist revolutionaries who were executing anyone and everyone who had sided with America during the Vietnam War aka the Secret War in Southeast Asia.

For my father, it was a choice between a perilous journey fraught with danger and certain death.

I am here today because of the choice he made when I was 2 years old.

After the escape to Thailand, for seven years we lived in a camp with 60,000 Hmong refugees, until my parents were finally offered the chance to come to America.

I need no help remembering my first day in the United States. First time seeing a toilet flush. My first taste of Coca-Cola. First time seeing snow and feel the cold blast of winter wind. First ride in an automobile. First time throwing up on mom in the back seat of a car.

Everything I have. Everything I am. Every breath I take. Every freedom I enjoy I owe to the United States of America.

A country that helped me earn a degree at Michigan State University, enjoy a successful career in business, raise a family, buy a home, put my kids through school and start my own company.

I love Wisconsin. I love America. I will never be ashamed to say that.

I am running for the U. S. Senate because I fear that the greatest democracy in the world and this citadel of freedom is about to crumble, ripped apart by tribal warfare, identity politics and never-ending conflict.

Democracies work only when people want them to. More than a million American soldiers have died to defend ours. The least we can do is fight to preserve it.

America deserves better than a political class consumed with petty grievance. All of us deserve a Senator unafraid to lead.

Steven Olikara

Steven Olikara is a proud Wisconsinite, the son of Indian immigrants, an entrepreneur, and a nonprofit leader. He attended Wisconsin public schools and graduated as a University of Wisconsin Badger. Steven found his path to public service through music. Growing up in the Greater Milwaukee area, he played in multiple bands and became a DJ for a community-focused radio station—through these experiences, he discovered the power of bringing diverse people together to positively impact communities.

Steven is the Founder and former CEO of the Millennial Action Project (MAP), the largest nonpartisan organization of young legislators in the country. Through their affiliated Congressional Future Caucus, MAP introduced over 200 bipartisan bills, 35 of which have become law. Steven helped develop diverse coalitions of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to achieve reform in 30 state legislatures and the U.S. Congress including:

  • Saving and expanding ARPA-E, a Department of Energy program to invest in clean energy technologies
  • Passing the first federal legislation on gun violence in over 2 decades, funding the CDC to research gun violence as a public health crisis
  • Helping lead Vote Safe Wisconsin (only bipartisan effort to expand absentee voting statewide during the pandemic), end partisan gerrymandering in Ohio, and pass a clean elections bill in Connecticut
  • Achieving the BATTLE for Servicemembers Act, providing skills training and small business support for over 200,000 people returning to civilian life annually

Steven resides in Milwaukee and remains active in his local community, serving on the Boards of The Community, which helps provide opportunities for justice-impacted people, as well as the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Performing Arts in Brookfield, where he grew up performing throughout grade school. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of UW–Madison’s International Division and serves on numerous boards and commissions advancing democracy, national service, and human rights.

Steven has attracted the only statewide elected official in Wisconsin to endorse in the race, former Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton, as well as numerous city, county, and state officials. Months of polling demonstrates that at least half of Wisconsinites are looking for a different kind of candidate, and Steven has risen to consistently appear in the top 3 of prediction markets.

Peter Peckarsky

Peter Peckarsky was born & raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A proud graduate of Washington High School, he received his S.B degrees in Electrical Engineering and Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his law degree from Case Western Reserve University. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D – Mass.) placed Mr. Peckarsky’s senior thesis in the Congressional Record in support of his  opposition to the Anti-Ballistic Missile system.

Peter worked as an investigative reporter and White House Correspondent in Washington and elsewhere, Peter traveled across the country to hold the powerful accountable and asking hard questions of people in power, including President Gerald Ford, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, President Jimmy Carter, and ex- Secretary of the Treasury John Connally.  Peter has dug into the inside of America’s institutions, and he’s ready to govern with the same sense of honesty, integrity, and transparency that he has demanded.

In 2017, Peter ran for Chair of the Democratic National Committee as a champion of voter protection and election security because Peter believes that the Democratic Party must represent the voices of the people and hold the powerful to account. He advocated a vote on the final ballot for Keith Ellison‘s bid for DNC Chair.

Darrell Williams

I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I was too poor to be born in a hospital. I was birthed by a mid-wife in the backwoods surrounded by cotton fields in Abbeville, MS. As a child, I learned the value of hard work and discipline by picking cotton and working in the fields. I would pick cotton all day for ‘Two of a hundred,’ That’s 2 dollars for every 100 pounds of cotton.

It was tough on my mother trying to raise 6 children on $3.35 an hour. Even though she would work all day and weekends when she could, it was never enough to make ends meet. I, like you, understand, ‘all too well and from lived experience,” the importance of having a job that pays a family supporting wage and I strongly support increasing the minimum wage.

As a child, I grew up with no running water or in-door plumbing. We had to carry water for long distances in order for my mother to cook and so we could put some water in a bucket and take a ‘wash off’ for school. I tried to ease the burden and help my mother by hauling pulpwood ‘logging,’ cutting grass, and doing odd jobs when I could.

But despite these challenges, it was the ‘will’ of my praying mother and ‘the people in my church’ to see me, my brothers and my sisters go to college and have a better life than the one she had that inspired me to rise above my circumstances and take action steps to make both our dreams of going to college a reality.

As a child, I grew up in the church and I still believe in the power of prayer!

At a young age, my mother knew and stressed the value of a good education, However, I knew that my mother could not afford for me to go to college. Therefore, at 16 years old, I joined the United States Army. Because of my mother and the United States Army, I proudly attended Rust College ‘The Citadel on the Hill’… An excellent Historically Black College. After receiving such a quality great education and an incredible experience, I came to Wisconsin where I have served this community and this great state for the past 25+ years.

Wisconsinites, you are looking at someone who truly values education, ‘not only in words, but in deeds.’ For over 25 years, I served our children as an educator, Principal and Interim Superintendent of Schools. I was humbled to be selected as National Principal of the Year in 2013 by the National Alliance of Black School Educators. As your United States Senator, I will use my experience and knowledge to connect theory with practice to improve the quality of life of all Wisconsinites. I will work to provide equitable access to educational opportunities for your children and you as parents. I will work to expand broadband services throughout the state—as it is a Civil Right. I will advocate for greater school funding and higher teacher pay and benefits. I will work with our schools, colleges, and universities to develop and expand entrepreneurship opportunities for students as well as I will work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities ’s and our Historically Hispanic Serving Institutions to build a bridge to recruit and hire more  minority teachers that reflect the diversity of our state and the students we serve. More so, I will work with our stakeholders to address the school to prison pipeline by getting students in school not prison.  As well, I will work with our local colleges and universities to develop a teacher education pipeline from high school to the classroom. This will allow us to GROW OUR OWN teachers and keep them here in Wisconsin. If we truly believe diversity is our strength, we must be bold in our recruitment and retainment of more minorities to our state…especially within our schools.

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More about the Fall 2022 Primary

Read more about Fall 2022 Primary here

Categories: Politics

One thought on “Vote Tuesday: Statewide Democratic Candidates”

  1. NieWiederKrieg says:

    I voted for Peter Peckarsky for the US Senate and Doug La Follette for Wisconsin Secretary of State.

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