MADISON (WKOW) -- Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) publicly bucked Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) on two of his signature accomplishments over the last two years: Act 10 and mining. Its why Schultz is now facing a challenge to his seat from inside the GOP.
Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) says he will run for Schultz's senate seat next year. While Marklein will have the backing of several Republican county chairpersons in southwestern Wisconsin, the GOP may be playing with fire.
Despite Marklein's announcement, Monday was business as usual for Sen. Schultz as he talked with constituents over the lunch hour at Nick's Cafe in Cuba City.
"I'm proud to be a Republican, but I'm even prouder to represent the people of the 17th Senate seat," said Sen. Schultz.
But that seat could be in real jeopardy, with Marklein making a very early announcement as a primary challenger.
"The two issues that he and I voted differently on are Act 10 as well as the mining bill," said Rep. Marklein, pointing to the issues he believes will give him a leg up on Schultz in a primary race.
Those differences will help Rep. Marklein secure the backing of hardcore conservatives in the 17th district who have expressed disappointment with Sen. Schultz in recent months. But Schultz says those people do not represent the district as a whole, something he knows after serving as Senator in the 17th since 1991.
"I think I'm a good reflection of this part of the state where I think most people who get to know folks out here will say, 'you know, the one thing you can say about these people is, they're independent,'" said Sen. Schultz.
Recent election results back that up. President Barack Obama carried the 17th handily in November of 2012, but so did Gov. Scott Walker in his recall election five months earlier.
"I know that I have Democrats who support me and vote for me. I know that I have lots of people who are independent," said Sen. Schultz.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is already predicting a victory in the 17th Senate District if Marklein defeats Schultz in a primary. But Marklein says he is battle tested and ready.
"I've won twice in a tough district. I won last year in a district that (Mitt) Romney got beat by more than 20 percentage points," said Marklein, referring to his win in the 51st Assembly District.
Then there is the matter of whether or not Sen. Schultz will even run for re-election. He wouldn't answer that Monday, saying he always makes that decision around Christmas time in the year before the next election.
MADISON (WKOW) -- State Representative Howard Marklein has announced plans to challenge State Senator Dale Schultz in the 2014 GOP primary election for Wisconsin Senate District 17
In a statement on his web site, Marklein said he came to the decision after being asked repeatedly by constituents to consider running.
Marklein's campaign page is already up at www.howardmarklein.com and contains a more detailed account of his decision to run.
Capitol Bureau Chief Greg Neumann is talking to Rep. Marklein and Sen. Schultz today and will have more in 27 News at 5 and 6.