With just days to go before Tuesday’s partisan primary elections, seven of the eight Democratic candidates running for governor squared off at Madison’s Central Library. The room was packed with a majority of undecided voters listening to why the candidates say they should become governor, no matter their differences.
“No matter how much we disagree, we need to bring civility back to politics,” said State Senator Kathleen Vinehout. All candidates besides Mike McCabe said they will ultimately support whoever the nominee is if they don’t win next week.
“That’s one thing I think that’s been great about this race, we’ve been able to talk about our differences while keeping our eye on the ball to defeat Scott Walker,” said Kelda Roys.
One topic that many candidates weighed in on was reducing the prison population. This comes a day after incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker criticized the candidates who say they want to reduce the prison population by releasing some inmates early. Walker said two thirds of criminals are violent criminals, meaning releasing thousands to reach that goal.
Vinehout challenged that claim and said those statistics are outdated. She and others would like to see a non-partisan study conducted by Department of Justice proving hundreds of inmates could be released.
“Every prisoner’s record has to be reviewed, the times they’ve been incarcerated, the nature of the accused offense, as well as if there was a plea agreement,” said Madison’s Mayor Paul Soglin.
Candidate Matt Flynn called out Walker for never visiting a state prison after he said even if re-elected he doesn’t see “a value” in doing so.
“We need a hands on governor who will go to the prisons to make sure the guards are protected and the inmates are protected,” said Flynn.
All candidates agreed on legalizing marijuana for recreational use and investing more money in public schools.
“I’m in favor ending taxpayer subsidizing for private schooling, which is taking resources away from private schools and putting that money back into community schools,” said Mike McCabe.
All would like to see a repeal of right to work laws for unions and requiring background checks for gun sales.
“Universal background checks, waiting periods and making sure the people that shouldn’t have guns – don’t have guns,” said Tony Evers.
The only candidate who did not make it to the debate was Mahlon Mitchell. He was in Seattle for a meeting of the International Firefighters Union. His spokeswoman said his return flight was delayed.
That event was hosted by the Isthmus newspaper and WORT radio in Madison.