Congressional hopeful brings campaign to HudsonMidterm elections are still a year away, but Republican hopeful Dan Kapanke was in Hudson this week, pulling together helpers and seeking donors for his bid to unseat incumbent Democrat, 3rd Congressional District Democrat Congressman Ron Kind.
By: Doug Stohlberg, Hudson Star-Observer
Midterm elections are still a year away, but Republican hopeful Dan Kapanke was in Hudson this week, pulling together helpers and seeking donors for his bid to unseat incumbent Democrat, 3rd Congressional District Democrat Congressman Ron Kind.
Kapanke, a Republican state senator in District 32 (covering parts of La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon, Crawford and Richland counties), officially announced his interest in the job on Aug. 3. It is expected that he will not be challenged from within the Republican party. That means he would not have a primary race in September and would face Kind in the November 2010 election.
Kapanke, 62, was first elected to the state senate in 2004 and reelected in 2008.
“I am running for Congress because Washington is running on the wrong tracks and needs to realign itself with the needs of the people,” Kapanke said.
He cited as the biggest issues being jobs, the economy and too much federal involvement in the private sector.
“All the spending that is going on in Washington, D.C. will eventually fall on the private sector – impacting all citizens,” Kapanke said.
He said the spending must stop.
“I’m not sure the first stimulus money worked – we have unemployment over 10 percent. But we have to stop spending. Every family that lives on a budget can see that. A day of reckoning will come.”
As a state senator, he said the Wisconsin budget problems are a “microcosm” of what’s going on in Washington, D.C.
“We talk about all the great things we have in Wisconsin, but if we don’t have jobs, we can’t pay to maintain the good things – the same is true in Washington.”
Regarding health care, Kapanke said we don’t need a 180 degree turn.
“We have to improve on some things. First we should allow insurance companies to sell across state lines. Also, we have to deal with the pre-existing condition issue.
“If you have a pre-existing condition and lose your job, and group coverage, you’re out of luck,“ Kapanke said. “That has to change.”
He said one possibility is to allow insurance to stay with an individual, regardless of the job, or lack of job. He also advocates tort reform.
He cited problems with the Medicare, Medicaid disbursement system.
“Wisconsin might get $5,000 for a service, while a state out east might get $10,000 or $15,000 for the same service. We have to level the playing field.”
Kapanke knows he has an uphill fight against longtime incumbent Kind, but he believes he is coming from a different perspective than past Republicans who have challenged Kind. He is also determined that voters deserve to hear dialogue on the issues.
“He (Kind) already has $1 million in his campaign chest,” Kapanke said. “But we can’t let money deter debate. Dialogue on issues is what is needed.
“It will be difficult for me to match Kind’s media dollars, but I sense that I am building strong grassroots support,” Kapanke said. “When I see what’s going on in our country, I felt compelled to step up.
“I’ve had a good reception throughout the district, from Hudson to the Illinois border. We have to remember that the 3rd Congressional District seat belongs to the people – not Ron Kind.”
Kapanke grew up on a family farm near Coon Valley and graduated from Onalaska Luther High School. He earned a B.S. degree in political science at UW-La Crosse and later a master’s degree in Professional Development. He currently lives on French Island near La Crosse.
He was in private business for much of his career, working for the Pride See Company and Kaltenberg Seed Farms for 25 years. He was active in local government (13 years on town of Campbell Board, including seven as town chair) before being elected to the state senate in 2004. He was a member of the La Crosse Area Development Corporation Board, La Crosse Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Board and the La Crosse Area Planning Committee Board. He also served on numerous state senate committees.
Kapanke served in the U.S. Marine Corps reserve and later the Wisconsin National Guard. He and his wife Ruth have four children. In 2003 he brought the La Crosse Loggers baseball team to La Crosse as a member of the Northwoods League.