Former Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, who once upon a time was convicted of abusing his office for political gain, has resurfaced in Wisconsin politics, and he’s apparently chosen the 7th State Senate District as the focus of his efforts. Earlier this year, Jensen became a senior adviser for government affairs for the American Federation of Children, an organization that advocates using tax dollars for school choice programs. State Sen. Jeff Plale (“D” – South Milwaukee) has been a proponent of school choice programs, so it’s being speculated Jensen and the AFC will be focusing a good deal of their time and money on Plale’s reelection bid:
Sources in Madison have said Jensen is raising money for the choice group so it can help out Plale, a moderate being challenged in the Democratic primary by Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson, a liberal.
“He is going to be doing the pro-Plale independent (expenditures) in the primary through the school choice vehicle,” said one well-connected politico. “That appears to be where the money is being directed.”
Since 2004, Plale has received more than $17,000 in donations from those tied to school choice organizations. He also had Katy Venskus as one of his legislative aides for several years. After leaving his staff, Venskus went to work for School Choice Wisconsin and, more recently, Education Reform Now Advocacy, which supports charter schools and the mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools.
As James Rowen of The Political Environment notes, while the introduction of bucket loads of money into the race by the AFC will be a boon to Sen. Plale, the involvement of Scott Jensen and the AFC could serve as a powerful motivator for Chris Larson, Plale’s primary opponent, and Larson’s supporters.
Obviously I’ve made it clear which candidate I prefer in the 7th Senate District, but the fact that Sen. Plale is being supported by a group advised by ultra-partisan Republican Scott Jensen should give any Democratic (or independent) voters in the 7th Senate District a strong reason to consider casting their votes for Chris Larson in the Democratic primary on September 14th.
Forward Lookout has more on this story.