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Recall primary set for July 12

Two candidates face off in a primary election to determine who represents Wisconsin's 10th Senate district.

The two candidates whose names will be on the 10th Senate District recall primary ballot have very different opinions about the reason for the election.

Shelly Moore, River Falls, says the incumbent, Sheila Harsdorf, should be recalled because she doesn't listen to her constituents and has voted for a budget that will gut funding for the most important services in the state.

Isaac Weix, 36, Menomonie, says the effort by Democrats to recall Harsdorf has nothing to do with issues or positions but about the power unions lost when the governor and Republican-controlled Legislature eliminated most bargaining rights.

The winner of July 12 primary will face Harsdorf, who has served in the Senate for over a decade, in an Aug. 9 election.

Moore, 37, an Ellsworth High School English and drama teacher who has held leadership positions in the teachers' union in the local, state and national level, decided in April to be a Democratic candidate to challenge Harsdorf.

Two months later, Weix, co-owner of T and S Hardware in Elmwood who has run in two previous Assembly races as a Republican, filed as a Democrat to force a primary.

"At a time of fiscal crisis for our state, it is more important than ever for people to work together, to listen to each other to find solutions," said Moore. "But Sen. Sheila Harsdorf has stopped listening to us.

"Over the past six months, Harsdorf has voted to gut funding for our most important priorities like education, local roads, health care -- all while increasing spending by over $1 billion, rolling back environmental protections and raising taxes on the working families and seniors of our district.

"We need a leader who will fight for the values of the people of our communities. In the state Senate, I will work with members of both parties to balance the budget fairly, while respecting our working families, seniors and students."

Said Weix: "I entered this campaign with two goals. First, to ensure that the election was delayed long enough for (Harsdorf to have) time to mount a sufficient campaign. The legislative cycle kept the incumbents in Madison working on the budget and not in the district able to meet with constituents.

"Second, to allow for sufficient time for the press and other interested parties to vet any challengers."

It would be a stretch to say Weix is campaigning for the Senate seat. He hasn't set out signs, he isn't going door-to-door, and he hasn't put out any position papers.

"There's no point. This (recall) campaign is not about issues anyway," said Weix. "It's about the unions feeling that they are going to lose power."

"The fake Democrat's (Weix's) entry into the race serves no purpose but to distract and mislead voters while wasting taxpayers' dollars," responded Moore.

But, she claims, his candidacy will help rather than hurt her own.

"The only impact on my race is to further solidify the negative impact of radical partisan politics on the people of western Wisconsin," she said. "I have a positive agenda for moving us forward and will not be distracted by those who are trying desperately to cling to power at any cost. I am working to move Wisconsin forward."

Weix argued he's not a "fake" candidate because his motivations are transparent. "When I entered this campaign I was determined not to be a spoiler," he said.

"I have run for office in the area numerous times, so everyone knows who I am and my political positions. If not, there is enough information easily accessible on the Internet and other places to understand where I stand on the issues," said Weix.

He added, "Let it be clear, no one will be fooled into voting for me."

Does he want to win the primary?

"Of course," replied Weix. "Why not? Why wouldn't I want to win?"

If he does win this round, his name will be on the August ballot along with Harsdorf's.

"But I'm not going to beat Sheila," he said. "The same people who are voting for me will vote for Sheila (instead)."

Moore, who has taught in Ellsworth for 13 years, says teaching is in her blood. Her mother taught English and French. Her father taught industrial arts. Her grandfather was a teacher and principal.

"You have to have a certain temperament for teaching," said Moore in an earlier interview. "That includes patience, listening and sensing the best in all the people that you meet."

She sees her candidacy as another teaching experience.

"My overarching theme as a candidate is having a return to representative democracy," said Moore. "That means listening to constituents as a way to work things out."

Moore holds a Bachelor's degree in English education and political science from UW-Stevens Point and a Master's degree from UW-River Falls. She is divorced with no children.

Weix owns T and S Hardware store with his brother. According to his website for an earlier election, he is working on a Master's in Business Administration through UW-Eau Claire and holds a degree in business from UW-Stout. He is married and has two daughters.

He serves as a gunnery sergeant with a Marine Reserves unit in Madison and was on active duty from 1993 to 1998.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.