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FILE - In this Feb. 27, 2019, file photo, Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis.

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Three Democrats compete to challenge Kapanke for Senate seat in Aug.11 primary

Two newcomers and one longtime politician will face off in the Aug. 11 primary, hopeful to fill the seat that was recently vacated after Democrat Jennifer Shilling left for another job.

The winner will go on to face Republican Dan Kapanke, who is running unopposed in his own party. He has held the seat before, but was voted out of office in the recall elections after Act 10.

Here are the candidates and where they stand on the issues:

Brad Pfaff

“I did not see this opportunity coming,” Pfaff said of his candidacy, adding that he received a lot of encouragement to run after Shilling stepped down.

Pfaff has a long history in politics, including serving under the Obama administration and previously running for Senate in 2004 against Kapanke.

Most recently, Pfaff served as Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture before Republicans voted him out, unhappy with his plans for farmer’s mental health.

But this candidacy is about the future, Pfaff said, who is passionate about putting the divisiveness behind him, calling his approach to working together his top priority.

“I do not want to divide. I’ve never, ever wanted to divide,” Pfaff said.

“I am willing to stand up and put myself on the line in order to make sure that the greater good and the ideas of the greater good are being considered,” he said. “In my career, I paid a price for doing that. And I’d do it all over again.”

Here’s where Pfaff stands on key local issues:

Farming crisis:

  • Has a long background in agriculture, and said solutions start at having conversations with the farmers.

His plans include enhancing farmer’s quality of life, upgrading market prices, putting an emphasis on local products — which he called a “rural renaissance” — and supporting more research within the industry.

“It breaks my heart,” said Pfaff, who grew up on a dairy farm. “Agriculture is a business, but also a way of life.”

Flooding and climate change:

  • Said he supports a plan that balances land stewardship and economic development, and that Wisconsin should play on its leadership in flood mitigation, like the Coon Creek development, and that more economic developments with low-cost energy should be incentivised.

“The rolling hills, coulees and valleys of this district, is what makes this district so special and so unique,” he said.

Infrastructure and broadband:

  • Said he supports the state’s recent efforts toward broadband and roads, but called for a most aggressive and holistic approach, so that broadband could be used as a tool for job-growth, health care, education and economic development for all.

Health care and mental health:

  • Supports accepting federal Medicaid dollars at the state level to support health care, but also investing more upfront investment, including more funding for Badgercare and expanding coverage options for the unemployed and those without employer-provided health care, like farmers, and more funding for rural health-care providers.

“We have a providers in this area that are some of the best in the nation,” Pfaff said. “Put money in the front end and it will cost us less.”

Child care:

  • Said there should be more incentives for businesses to offer child care and that investments should be made in quality child-care providers.

Jayne Swiggum

A practicing nurse, Swiggum launched her campaign just in the knick of time, in early May, saying she was motivated after seeing Kapanke not following COVID-19 guidelines while at a rally.

“I was irritated. I thought, I expect more from the person representing me,” she said.

At the top of her to-do list is health care, saying that America is “the most backwards country ever” in regards to its current health-care system. She said she specifically supports accepting federal dollars to help expand the state’s Medicaid.

Here’s where Swiggum stands on other key local issues:

Farming crisis:

  • Said that a single-payer health-care system will help family farmers so that they aren’t taking additional jobs to gain access to insurance. Also supports addressing climate change through better farming practices.

“We need to try to help farmers be stewards of the land, like they used to be,” Swiggum said.

Flooding and climate change:

  • “Flooding has affected my life since I was a wee little kid living on the Kickapoo,” said Swiggum, a Gays Mills native.

She said she supports protecting water resources from developments and farming pollution, and that climate change is a “marathon we have got to get started on.”

Infrastructure and broadband:

  • Supports a program similar to the New Deal to address infrastructure problems.

“We need to do the same thing with broadband. Broadband needs to be a utility for every single person in the world,” Swiggum said.

Child care:

  • Supports a state-funded childcare system, longer paid family leave and benefits for parents who have to stay home to care for children.


  • Supports legalizing cannabis at the state level, citing added benefits to the farming community and its possible

Paul Michael Weber

A longtime La Crosse resident, Weber said he is running for the people of the district he’s come to know so well.

“I’m only doing this for the people. I’m not doing this to fill somebody’s shoes or rise from the coat tails,” Weber said.

In 2012, Weber was charged with threatening to blow up an IRS office inside the La Crosse post office and threatening Rep. Ron Kind and his staff. He was found not guilty due to mental illness.

Weber declined to comment on the matter and said the charges were not relevant to his campaign.

Here’s where Weber stands on the issues:

Farming crisis:

  • Wants to create a “no-farmer-left-behind” coalition with local farmers, prop up corn and milk prices for the next decade, keep farmers family-owned, and commits to not losing one farm in the district for his entire tenure in office if he’s elected.

“Our farmers need to be sustainable, they need to earn a living, they need to survive and they need help,” he said.

Flooding and climate change:

  • Said he grew up on the North Side of La Crosse where flooding is a major issue.

In the Senate, Weber said his hands were tied to address climate in the area, but that he would help the district prepare for the changes to come, and would support more clean energy and green jobs for the area.

“Flooding is an important issue and I’m going to take it head-on. I’m not going to be able to change the way the earth spins and what direction we’re headed on, all we can do is prepare,” Weber said.

Infrastructure and broadband:

  • Supports a 5G network across the state, and said within one year in office he’d have all communities in the district connected to internet.

Health care:

  • Said he’d like to see health-care coverage expanded and quality of care improved, all while reducing prices.

“I see health care as more of a right than a privilege,” Weber said.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 11 for the primary. All voters must vote within one party or else the votes will not be counted.

An absentee ballot can be requested at MyVote.Wi.Gov, though voters should allow enough time for mailing back and forth — all absentee ballots must be returned by the time polls close to be counted.

Rotary Lights volunteer, Gary Brauer, sands a sleigh Monday that’s currently under construction at the holiday display’s headquarters downtown. After construction, the 13 foot-long sleigh will be sent to FAST Fiberglass in Sparta for a colorful coating. Finally it will be decorated with lights by volunteers for its inaugural use in the coming holiday season. Brauer himself will be one of about a dozen Santas to volunteers at this year’s display.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, speaks as she stands next to Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. Schumer and Pelosi met earlier with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as they continue to negotiate a coronavirus relief package. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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La Crosse County COVID-19 cases top 800, with 42 confirmed in last 3 days

La Crosse County confirmed an additional 42 cases of COVID-19 during the weekend and Monday, bringing its total number of cases to 832.

On Saturday, 15 new cases were confirmed, on Sunday, 12 new cases were confirmed, and on Monday 15 new cases were confirmed.

Four individuals remained hospitalized during the weekend — 37 have ever been hospitalized — and there remains one death related to the virus in the county.

On Monday, 79% of all tests came back positive.

In the last seven days, 604 total tests were completed in the county, and 80 cases were confirmed, with an 11.7% total positive.

Thirty of the 42 new cases are in individuals 30 and under.

There have been a total of 16,654 total negative test results in La Crosse County.

Currently, 685 of all cases are considered recovered, and 149 are still active.

Monday marked the third day of a statewide mask mandate, and local officials encourage residents to wear face coverings in public, practice social distancing and stay home as often as possible.

Monroe adds 17 cases

Monroe County reported 16 new COVID-19 cases during the weekend and one more on Monday.

The county reported nine new cases on Saturday and seven more on Sunday, in addition to one more on Monday.

That totals 225 confirmed cases in Monroe County.

Monroe County has 49 active cases (three are currently hospitalized), 175 recoveries and one death.

Monday’s case involves a woman in her 30s.