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Fitzgerald, Palzewicz race to replace Sensenbrenner in the 5th District

Posted at 2:18 PM, Nov 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-05 16:22:04-05

A year from Nov. 4th, Wisconsin will have at least one new congressman.

Republican Jim Sensenbrenner is retiring, creating a rare open seat in a district that has been a solid red for decades.

The 5th District includes parts of Milwaukee, Waukesha, Walworth and Dodge counties, as well as all of Jefferson and Washington counties.

Right now Scott Fitzgerald is the only Republican running in the 5th Congressional District.

On Sunday, supporters joined him for a kickoff event in Pewaukee.

"The support I have gotten so far in the 5th has been fantastic," says Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald has spent 25 years in state politics.

The last ten leading senate Republicans to pass tax cuts and make changes all but eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees under Act 10.

He tells TODAY'S TMJ4'S Charles Benson there is one issue that comes up on the campaign trail - it's not just all about impeachment.

"A lot of people say you've got to do something about the debt, get a handle on it and that's not an easy task."

The nation's debt is now at $23 trillion with $3 trillion coming under President Trump after GOP tax cuts and defense spending increases.

But Fitzgerald sees one key issue boosting Republican chances in 2020.

"When I'm out there talking to people about how do they feel good about the economy, people are saying 'yeah, we think the president's got it on the right track,'" said Fitzgerald.

That's not how Tom Palzewicz sees it. TMJ4 caught up with the Waukesha County Democrat at a campaign event in Oconomowoc Saturday.

"It's just doesn't work for everybody," said Palzewicz. "That to me is one of the more frustrating things is the economy is supposedly doing very well but it's not doing well for most Americans."

The Brookfield small business owner lost two years ago to Congressman Sensenbenner by 24 points.

Benson: Do you think it's going to take a Hail Mary to win this district?

Palzewicz: Well it's interesting, I think it was a solid red. I don't think it's a solid red anymore.

It's still a big climb with big issues, like health care.

Palzewicz believes the country needs to move closer to a universal or government-run healthcare versus private employer health insurance, but he says it can't and should not happen overnight.

"If we continue to insist that health insurance needs to be tied to a job, we are not going to have an economy we need moving forward," said Palzewicz.

Palzewicz also knows Democrats are unified in impeaching Trump and he's on board with the impeachment inquiry.

Palzewicz: This is where we as citizens have to ask for our president to be held accountable.

Q: Will you be more cautious on that front knowing you are running in a district that is heavily supported by Republicans who do back the president?

Palzewicz: Yeah, I think this is one of those areas where we can't let politics have a play in this process.

Fitzgerald opposes the impeachment inquiry and thinks all the anti-Trump talk has fired up the Republican base.

Benson: How much of a benefit could he (President Trump) be to you and how much of a liability?

Fitzgerald: Oh, I think in the 5th Congressional, that President Trump has really made a connection with a lot of voters, probably more so now than in his first election.

Fitzgerald and Palzewicz are the only two candidates in the race right now representing their political parties but the primary is not until August 2020.