Westphal edges Kaufert in primary votes
by Duke Behnke Post-Crescent staff writer
NEENAH — Democratic challenger Mark Westphal outpolled Republican incumbent Dean Kaufert by nearly 200 votes in the primary election for the 55th Assembly District, but neither candidate reads much into the results.
Westphal was unopposed on the Democratic ballot, and Kaufert was unopposed on the Republican ballot. They did not compete head-to-head.
Still, support for Westphal was strong in Menasha and relatively even with Kaufert in their hometown of Neenah.
“I am happy with the numbers,” Westphal said today, “but I am not going to sit on the laurels of any primary numbers. I have a lot of work to do in the next seven weeks.”
The two will meet in the Nov. 7 election.
Kaufert, co-chairman of the state’s budget-drafting Joint Finance Committee, discounted the primary numbers. He said the results were skewed by the high interest in the Democratic race for attorney general, in which Kathleen Falk defeated incumbent Peg Lautenschlager.
“Those numbers mean nothing,” Kaufert said. “There was a high voter turnout for the Democrats. The Democrats in our area came out for Peg Lautenschlager.”
Westphal, president of the Fox Valley Area Labor Council, said his support in the primary shows that his message is resonating with voters.
He has focused on lowering the cost of health care and health insurance in Wisconsin, which he said is among the highest in the nation.
“That issue is affecting our job situation more than any direct tax on business,” he said.
The 55th Assembly District has been stung by recent job losses at Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Glatfelter. It also could be affected by job losses announced last week by Banta Corp.
Kaufert said it is unfair to associate him with the job losses.
“I don’t know how much you can blame Dean Kaufert for that,” he said. “These are a lot of my friends. They are customers of mine. I am doing everything I can to retain jobs and to get new companies to put their roots here.”
They neglect to mention that 55% of Winnebago County Residents voted in the Republican Primary, yet Mark still won. Give him some support here: