I recently had the chance to sit down and chat with Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate Henry Sanders, a small business owner from the Madison area. During our conversation, I was struck by Sanders’ laser-sharp focus on what he believes to be the most important issue in the 2010 election cycle – job creation. A quick look at the issues page on Sanders’ campaign web site bears out the fact that his focus is on jobs, as six of the seven points listed deal directly with job creation.
Asked why he was running for Lieutenant Governor, Sanders was quick to cite his experiences in dealing with the government as a small business owner, noting he got the sense government really didn’t understand how to create jobs. He added he believed government needed someone with a background as a job creator and a problem solver, noting that he fits both criteria. Sanders went on to add that the recent birth of his daughter only helped to reinforce his decision, because his daughter’s birth only cemented his desire to make the future better for her.
As our conversation continued, I asked Sanders what set him apart from the other Democratic candidates for Lt. Governor, and he was quick to point to his background as a small business owner. Sanders also he noted his background includes time spent working for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), as well as work for the City of Madison on prevailing wage issues, and time spent working on labor issues for Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. Sanders cited his background in both the public sector and the private sector as being the key difference between he and his Democratic opponents, and he added that the number one issue in this election is going to be jobs, and so his background in job creation means he’s well-suited to articulate a clear and comprehensive vision on how to create jobs in Wisconsin.
I noted the position of Lt. Governor in Wisconsin has been seen largely as a “do nothing” position, and I asked him what he’d do if elected to change that perception. Sanders made it clear he believes Lt. Governor needs to be doing a lot, especially in regards to job creation, which requires, in his words, “all hands on deck” to not only keep good jobs in Wisconsin but to work to create new jobs for Wisconsin’s workforce. Sanders added that if he were elected, he would make it his top priority to work with Governor Tom Barrett to implement a comprehensive job creation agenda. While we didn’t delve too far into what that job creation agenda would look like, Sanders did note he supported an approach that not only created an attractive fiscal environment for businesses, but that also dealt with many issues related to job creation, such as education and transportation, noting that those issues are often directly tied to job creation.
As our conversation drew to a close, I also had an opportunity to ask Sanders about the entry of State Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson into the Lt. Governor’s race. I noted there seems to be a push to clear the Democratic field to pave the way for Nelson to be the Democratic Lt. Governor candidate, and Sanders made it abundantly clear he plans on staying in the race until the last votes are counted, saying he’s “absolutely in it until the end.” Sanders noted he has traveled to over half the state, racking up the most endorsements of any Democrat running for Lt. Governor, and he made a point to note he has a great campaign team in place and has been met with lots of support as he’s traveled the state. “I’m in it to win it,” Sanders said, and he added that the entry of Tom Nelson into the race won’t change his campaign at all.
As I noted earlier, Henry Sanders knows jobs are the number one issue on the minds of voters in Wisconsin, and he made it abundantly clear that his campaign is focused on articulating how he plans on not only promoting Wisconsin as a good place to do business, but also on making sure jobs get created.
Having spent some time talking to Henry Sanders, it’s clear he’s committed to making Wisconsin a better place to live, work, and raise a family, and he certainly seems to be a more than formidable candidate who’d certainly energize the bottom of the eventual Democratic gubernatorial ticket.