Reminded us of Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil, who stuck his head out of the burrow Saturday and decided we'd have six more weeks of winter. (On the other hand, Tumbleweed, one of Chicago's Brookfield Zoo groundhogs, stuck her nose out and didn't see any shadow, indicating an early spring.) But this isn't a yarn about ignorant creatures predicting the future, as the old joke goes; it's about politicians... Ba-da bing.
Anyway, it appears there are now four Democratic candidates running for the dubious opportunity to compete against Republican Ryan and his heretofore unnecessary war chest of more than $1.5 million.
Besides Thomas, a Janesville surgeon who lost to Ryan in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 ("A pattern begins to emerge, eh, Watson?"), we already knew about Paulette Garin, a Kenosha music teacher and newly-minted CPA; and Marge Krupp, a Racinian and former SC Johnson chemical engineer who now lives in Pleasant Prairie. Krupp recently reported collecting more than $50,000 in campaign donations.
The fourth candidate is Mike Hebert of Kenosha. Nope, I never heard of him either... but apparently I haven't been paying attention: He came in second in the Democratic Primary in 2006, garnering 6,206 votes to Thomas' 7,111.
Here's what his brother, Bill, his campaign manager, told us about Mike:
-- he's a 30-year Ocean Spray plant operator;All four candidates will debate on Saturday, Feb. 23, from 2 to 4 p.m. before Walworth County Democrats at the Sprague Theater, 15 Walworth Ave., Elkhorn.
-- he's been a union member for 30 years; (Unions may have a tough time picking among these candidates: Garin, too, has been a union member and is the daughter of a long-time union leader. Garin has been endorsed by Teamsters Local No. 43 Retirees Club of Kenosha and Racine, and Krupp by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Joint Council 39 Pleasant Prairie.)
-- "He's not your typical Democrat. He's got a commonsense approach to government: a fiscal conservative with moderate social leanings."
-- he's not married;
-- "He came in second to Thomas in 2006, by less than 1,000 votes, after only 45 days of campaigning."
-- "He's running the old Bill Proxmire campaign -- Proxmire's claim to fame was a handshake. When he was representing the state, you saw him all over, shaking hands." (Funny to hear Proxmire's name again this week! Why, just last Thursday, it was invoked by none other than Paul Ryan, as he issued his own "homage" to Proxmire's Golden Fleece awards. Coincidence?)
-- and finally, Mike Hebert will be financing his own campaign; he's not seeking donations from anyone. (Can Ryan get any luckier?)
Each will have two minutes to outline his or her reasons for running, and objectives. Questions posed by the audience will be asked by moderator Steve Hay of Delevan. The program will be introduced by Dr. Kate Harrod of Genoa City, Chair of the Walworth County Democrats.