The politics of running unopposed

Story by Ryan Spoehr, Copy Editor

Dana Wachs, formerly of the Eau Claire City Council, has entered the race for the 91st district in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

“This is the third time people have asked me to run. I thought this was the time for the non-typical candidate to get up off of the couch and get involved,” he said.

However, while Wachs has entered the race as a Democrat, there has been no one from the Republican Party or  any other party to enter.

“It’s very surprising,” Wachs said.  “It never occurred to me no one would be running. We expected a full-on race and geared up for one, but it just didn’t happen.”

Brian Westrate, the chairman of the Republicans of Eau Claire County, said that with redistricting leaving part of the City of Eau Claire in the new 91st District, there were not many people that showed interest and lived within the district. He said there were two people potentially interested that had this problem.

“There was a third person that was a viable candidate, but that person doesn’t want to face the personal attacks that come with running in the race,” Westrate said.

He would not disclose the name of the third person for that reason.

“If there was an extreme left candidate, it would give us more impetus to find more resources to get a candidate,” Westrate said. “Although I disagree with many of Dana’s conclusions, there is no argument about the man having his heart in the right place and about the experience he has in Eau Claire with city council and his law firm.”

Wachs, while serving as a city council member at large, served on the city county health committee, transit commission, affirmative action committee, parks and waterway committee, library board and economic policy advisory committee. He worked on the Ted Kennedy presidential campaign in 1980 as well.

“I know how to run a campaign,” Wachs said. “I have a lot of people helping me out. I’ve spent many years in the background raising kids and running a business, but the issues are so great, right now is the right time (to enter
state politics).”

Wachs has been around politics for most of his life. His father, Ray Wachs, was the Eau Claire city attorney and
city manager.

“My dad would write briefs and I would sit in city hall with him.”

Wachs said he made his decision to run in part because of what was happening statewide as a result of Scott Walker’s tenure as governor. He said that he wants to be there to find common ground with everyone involved.

“I am a progressive Democrat. I can find higher ground with moderate Democrats, so I hope that is the case (with Republicans),” he said. “I know how to effectively advocate. I understand when to cut a deal when needed.”

He said that there needs to be fiscal responsibility and there needs to be more attention on how state government shares its money with smaller communities.

“What people need to understand is roads and other things cost money and we can’t run the government as a business,” he said. “We need to take a look at how we fund things.”

Economics is going to be a main platform for him, Wachs said. He said he wants to make sure that spending is monitored, but not completely squeezed when it comes to education.

“Wisconsin should be the smartest place for someone to go,” Wachs said. “We need to attract people who study. That will lead to businesses coming to Eau Claire.”