- Republican Jerry Petrowski of Stettin and Democrat Donna Seidel of Wausau faced off in the first of two debates leading up to the June 5 recall election.
The candidates are vying for former Republican State Senator Pam Galloway's seat, vacant since March, when Galloway resigned to spend time with family members who fell ill.
The hour-long debate covered a full range of issues in this election, including women's healthcare, budget reforms, collective bargaining, equal pay for women, and even the struck-down Gogebic Taconite mine.
"This mine, 22 miles long, four miles wide, and a thousand feet deep, I wanted to be absolutely sure that air quality would not be compromised, that drinking water in that area would never be contaminated by lead and arsenic," Representative Seidel said. "When I can get those assurances, that absolutely I will be committed 100 percent to creating those good-paying jobs that are very desperately needed in that area of Wisconsin.
"Just running a big shovel is not an air quality problem," Representative Petrowski responded. "This would be dramatic for the state - 5,500 jobs, up to $2 billion in commerce, and as this would work through our economy, it would make it tremendously different for the state of Wisconsin."
The debate mirrored Wisconsin's political climate, with the candidates slamming each other on nearly every issue, and drawing both boos and applause from the crowd.
A moderator asked them how they would fix that polarization.
"Donna's idea of working together is to slam someone on TV to the tune of about $100,000 and some dollars - that's Donna's idea of working together," Petrowski said.
Seidel brought up the "Deer Czar" appointed by Walker, who disapproves of hunting on public grounds.
"Let's go meet with Governor Walker together and say, in the interest of our community, in the interest of our constituents, let's convince him to let that czar go because he is wrong for Wisconsin," Seidel said.
The candidates next face off on May 29 in Medford. If Seidel wins the June 5 election, the Senate tips to the favor of the Democrats.
Written By: Lex Gray