Last week retired school teacher Myron Buchholz announced he would be challenging incumbent Democratic Congressman Ron Kind in Wisconsin’s third Congressional district.

Myron Buchholz

Myron Buchholz

Shortly after Buchholz announced his candidacy, I had an opportunity to chat with him about his decision to challenge Rep. Kind. As the obvious first question, I asked Buchholz why he decided to challenge Rep. Kind. Buchholz was quick to note the number one reason he decided to challenge Ron Kind was Kind’s support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with Buchholz noting how curious Kind’s support for the TPP is given that it follows NAFTA, which has been incredibly destructive to the job market in Wisconsin.

Adding to his point, Buchholz cited the rise in poverty across Wisconsin. Buchholz noted his campaign website has maps from the state Department of Public Instruction showing the population of free and reduced school lunches from 2003 to present, and Buchholz cited the increase in the percentage of children receiving free and reduced school lunches as proof of the rise in poverty in Wisconsin. ‘Close to fifty percent of our state’s school population receives free and reduced lunches,” Buchholz noted, adding that that percentages speaks volumes about wages across the state being too low for many families.

Buchholz added he was also troubled by Ron Kind’s recent criticism of former Senator Russ Feingold’s stance in opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, noting that Kind criticized Feingold for opposing the TPP before Feingold had actually read it. Buchholz noted Feingold has said he has read the TPP and is still opposed to it, and Buchholz noted Rep. Kind voted to fast track the TPP even before the entire 6,000 page agreement was released to public. “He couldn’t have read it,” Buchholz asserted.

As his second reason for deciding to challenge Rep. Kind, Buchholz said he has had an issue with Rep. Kind for a long time based on Rep. Kind’s 2002 vote in favor of Iraq War. Buchholz noted that unlike Democratic presidential candidate and then-Senator Hillary Clinton, Rep. Kind has never renounced that vote. “I never understood that vote,” Buchholz said, adding that while report have referred to him as a “peace activist” – which could have a negative connotation – he wears that title proudly. Buchholz noted his daughter served in the military in Bagdhad for 27 months and so he’s familiar with the toll war takes on families.

As a final reason for his decision to challenge Rep. Kind Buchholz cited Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, noting that when he weighed the positives and negatives to getting into the race, the “Sanders phenomenon” made it appealing to him to get into the race as an outsider. Buchholz noted Sen. Sanders doesn’t have a SuperPAC and is running grassroots campaign, and that’s the kind of campaign Buchholz said he wants to run – the kind that won’t have a lot of money but will engage the grassroots with a populist message. Buchholz said he feels a kinship with Sen. Sanders on domestic issues, especially an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Buchholz noted the $15 per hour minimum wage is on area he and Rep. Kind seem to disagree, as the New Democrat Coalition Rep. Kind is a member of referred to the $15 per hour minimum wage as a “niche issue.”

“If the minimum wage in 1968 was indexed for inflation, it would be $15 per hour today,” Buchholz told me, adding that he does not believe an increase in the minimum wage to be a “niche issue.” Buchholz told me he currently serves on the steering committee for 15 Now Northwestern Wisconsin, an organization advocating for living wages.

Asked about the issues he will be focusing on in addition to an increased minimum wage, Buccholz began with healthcare reform. He noted he is a huge proponent of single payer healthcare ala “Medicare for all” like Bernie Sanders is proposing, and he cited the fact that healthcare costs are the number one reason for bankruptcy in US while no other western country has that problem as proof that our nation’s healthcare system needs to change. “I’m tired of walking into stores and seeing handmade posters for fundraisers for families raising money for cancer care,” Buchholz told me.

Another issue Buchholz is focusing on is student loan debt. “We have to do something about the debt people come out of college with,” Buchholz said, adding that the idea of a young person coming out of college with what amounts to a mortgage but no house is ridiculous. He noted college was affordable when he went – and he believes it it should be every bit as affordable for students now as well. Buchholz told me, “It’s mind boggling and we have to do something about it.”

The final issue Buchholz told me he wants to focus on is clean energy. Buchholz told me he is proposing
a clean green energy building program (smart grid, solar panels on buildings) that would create a cheap, sustainable energy system. Buchholz noted the availability of cheap energy post-World War 2 was one reason for economic boom of that time, and he told me he believes we need an “across the board” federal clean energy policy, noting that right-wing energy interests and the Koch brothers have worked in states throughout the country to limit the availability of clean energy alternative power sources. Buchholz added that he has solar panels on his house, adding that he believes the real benefit is the cost savings – not just for his family but for those who come after. “It’s something for the future we can do to reduce costs and dependence on non-sustainable energy,” Buchholz told me.

Asked how he thinks he can beat a deeply entrenched incumbent, given the strong advantages of incumbency, Buchholz said he plans on running a strong grassroots campaign in order to beat the obvious financial advantages Rep. Kind will enjoy. Buchholz said he is going to “go old school” and win through hard work, because he knows he can’t compete with Rep. Kind’s money for ads, mailers, and other campaign essentials. “I understand the power of incumbency, but as a retired teacher I have the time to really put in the hours to make phone calls, go door to door, and work hard to beat Ron Kind,” Buchholz said, adding that he has already been to six counties in the district. Buchholz added he has a great website and had a great response at his first event raising funds, and he said he is hoping to tap into the Bernie Sanders supporters in the district as well.

Buchholz did note his campaign has already faced a challenge from the Democratic establishment in Wisconsin, as the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) has denied his campaign access to the party’s Voter Activation Network (VAN) because Ron Kind is a Democrat in good standing and their policy is not to give the VAN to anyone challenging incumbent democrats. “The fact that people like Ron Kind are willing to spend millions for a job that pays $174,000 per year is ridiculous and it shows how screwed up our system is,” Buchholz told me, adding that he believes the real test for election to Congress should be who can run the cheapest, most effective campaign, instead of who can spend the most time raising the most money for reelection.

Despite the obvious obstacles his campaign faces in attempting to defeat a strongly entrenched incumbent, Buchholz told me he is really enjoying the campaign experience, telling me he feels like he has a strong platform that resonates with voters.

If you’d like to learn more about Myron Buchholz, you can visit his official campaign website and Facebook page, and if you’d like to make a contribution you can make one securely through ActBlue.

One Response to Myron Buchholz: the man who wants to unseat Ron Kind

  1. Jill Lynch says:

    I appreciate that Myron Buchholz is getting in the race. I am aligned with Myron’s positions on the issues mentioned, and I think Rep. Ron Kind needs to be challenged really hard on these, and other, issues.

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