Janesville Gazette: Incumbents to battle in redesigned 43rd District
By Stan Milam
WHITEWATER — Incumbent Assembly Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, will seek re-election in a new district that has been redesigned as part of decennial redistricting.
Jorgensen will move from his current district, the 37th, if he is successful in his re-election bid. If he survives a September primary challenge, Jorgensen will take on another incumbent in the November general election.
Waiting in the wings is Rep. Evan Wynn, R-Whitewater, who saw his 43rd Assembly district take on a more Democratic bent after reapportionment. The new district will include parts of Dane County including the village of Oregon. Wynn faces no primary opposition.
"This is a classic example of gerrymandering by the Republicans," Jorgensen said Wednesday in a telephone interview. "They put my district into the political wood chipper, and it ended up in four different pieces."
Had Jorgensen decided not to move he would have had to face incumbent Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater.
Why did he decide to run in the new 43rd district?
"First of all, it was not my decision to blow up my district into pieces," Jorgensen said. "I am forced to run in a different district regardless of what the number is."
The 43rd is where he's the most comfortable, Jorgensen said. If a move is required, it could be a matter of a few blocks, he said.
"I'm only three blocks out of the district now, and we want to keep the kids in the same school district," he said.
State law allows Jorgensen to run for the 43rd while living in the 37th. He said he will move into the 43rd if he's successful.
"It (the 43rd) is just a better fit for me and my family," Jorgensen said. "The 43rd includes rural and urban areas.
"I'm a former blue-collar worker at the GM plant in Janesville, and I was raised on a dairy farm," he added. "I'm very comfortable with all areas in the 43rd, including the UW-Whitewater campus where I have worked with university officials in the past on various issues."
The new 43rd is not what Wynn would have ordered.
"They included parts of Dane County in my district, which will make it more Democratic," Wynn said. "That won't change the way I campaign or the way I vote in the Legislature, but it will have an effect on the election night vote."
Wynn said he's not a stranger to Democratic positions on issues.
"I have voted with Democrats when my Republican colleagues have not," he said. "I voted to allow cameras in the Assembly gallery, and I voted to prevent the Legislature from deleting emails. Most Democrats voted for those positions, and most Republicans opposed them."
The 43rd Assembly District will morph into a substantially different district. Wynn lost the village of Orfordville and the Rock County townships of Newark, Spring Valley, Avon and Beloit. He retains the Rock County townships of Janesville, Porter, Milton, Plymouth and Fulton, along with the cities of Edgerton and Milton.
Wynn said he's not ready to officially announce his intent to run for re-election.
"If I do run, I will do what I did two years ago," he said. "I will knock on as many doors as I can, I will listen to constituents and share with them my views based on what I hear."
Wynn said he will not change his basic political direction based on the political makeup of the district.
"I will make decisions based on what's best for the state of Wisconsin and the state taxpayers," he said. "I'll look at proposed legislation based on the merits."
Redistricting is not the only election issue Jorgensen identified as a problem.
"The Republicans have gutted the Wisconsin Election Campaign Fund," he said. "You can no longer check off a contribution on your tax form.
"That puts challengers and those of us who run grassroots campaigns at a disadvantage," he said. "Without that public support for campaigns, candidates—especially challengers—will have a much more difficult time."
Jorgensen will have at least one Democratic challenger: Jacob Foulker of Beloit, a student at UW-Whitewater who also lives outside the new 43rd.
On his campaign website, Foulker said he plans to move to Whitewater in April or May. He has criticized Jorgensen for deciding to run for the 43rd "because he (Jorgensen) thinks it will be easier to win."
Jorgensen said he was not aware of Foulker's campaign or his remarks.
"I would love to sit down with him and explain the facts about how these districts have been changed," Jorgensen said. "I now represent a large chunk of the new 43rd, so this is not a case of me moving into an entirely new area."