Some say I’m a fool for attempting to turn Waukesha County “blue” with my blogging and Drinking Liberally Waukesha. But the alternative is to sit around, wring my hands, and lament that things will never change. To me, that would be foolish. I’d rather aim high, take risks and lose than give up or settle right from the start. So would Dave Heaster, a progressive from Sussex who recently filed the paperwork necessary to run against Republican incumbent Jim Sensenbrenner this November. I met with Heaster on Thursday evening in downtown Waukesha to question his decision to run, his chances of winning, and his sanity.
“I don’t have delusions that I am going to come in and win easily,” Heaster told me, but he also said he would not have entered the race if he didn’t think he could win. He said his chances of defeating Sensenbrenner are greater at this moment in time, in light of recent laws passed by the Wisconsin GOP such as The Castle Doctrine, Concealed Carry, and the gutting of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act. Heaster said Wisconsin GOP legislators are “clinging to their ideology” and “the things they come up with are almost insane.”
Conversely, the foundation of Dave Heaster’s campaign platform is “logic and ethics” and he will continually refer to what makes sense, he insists. He wants to focus on transparency by using technology to bring constituents into the decision-making process. To Heaster, real representation means participatory democracy with actively engaged citizens.
Heaster was born and raised in Brookfield, Wisconsin in a “classically middle-class” family. His father sold insurance and his mother worked in the deli at Kohl’s grocery store. She was a member of the Butcher’s Union Local 33. Education is what turned him into a true progressive.
He’s pro-collective bargaining rights, pro-worker, pro-environmental protections, pro-education, pro-science, pro-separation of church and state, pro-choice, and pro-equal rights for all.
He’s also against overspending, living beyond our means, and he’s worried about the debt. It’s a stereotype that liberals don’t care about debt, Heaster said.“Republicans call us the tax and spend Democrats, but they are tax cut and spend…if you’re a fiscal conservative, why would you give tax cuts and then start wars? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Democrats are not inherently anti-business, Heaster insists, “we can be very pro-business. If you’re pro-business and for a strong economy, it doesn’t mean you have to vote Republican.” Government does need to be fiscally responsible, and some things about government do need to change, Heaster says, “but by the same token, we’re a modern day society and modern day societies should have a certain amount of government, a certain amount of programs to help people. We don’t want to live in the Wild West…that’s not a way to run a country.”
Heaster has a firm grasp on what he needs to do to win District 5: own the youth vote, talk with women and ask them if they’re happy with their representation, and be wholly himself. He’ll also make clear to older voters that he wants to protect Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare.
Still, Heaster realizes that many may find him unorthodox, that some voters might think he’s “too casual.” He’s definitely the anti-Sensenbrenner, not a “dinosaur”, very Gen X. I’m not sure how he’ll be received by the larger public. But, as Heaster himself told me, “Now is the time to get up and do something…I’m going to run on what I believe and people will either buy into it or they won’t.”