A Caledonia man has registered as a Democratic candidate in the 21st Senate District recall election, triggering a primary election.
Andrew James Mielke filed campaign registration papers Friday with the GAB. He is running as a Democrat, but said he’s focusing on gaining support from independent voters.
Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) currently holds the seat, but state Democrats collected enough signatures to prompt a recall election. In the primary election, Mielke will run against former Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine), who held the position prior to Wanggaard. The winner of the primary election would then move to a special election.
While the dates aren’t definitive, the GAB is eyeing a June 5 general election date, with primaries on May 8.
“I don’t think John Lehman is a strong candidate,” Mielke said. “People have already said in the last election that they don’t want him. Also, both Van Wanggaard and John Lehman aren’t good listeners. They just side with their own parties. I’m going after the independent voters and I think this district has a lot of them.”
Mielke said he decided to run because he’s frustrated with both parties.
“I want the educational system restored,” Mielke said. “It’s to a point where we need more money in the educational system – from tech colleges to the elementary schools.”
Working as a writer for the CNH catalogue for about a year, he said he had to take a cut in pay to work closer to home and he decided to run after the redistricting maps were redrawn, he said.
Lehman and Justin Phillips, Wanggaard’s campaign manager, both said they’ve never heard of Mielke.
“He may be someone who is not a Democrat,” Lehman said. “I know that was a problem in the last recall election. I know the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has been strongly endorsing me.”
Mielke, 28, said he’s not affiliated with the Republican Party and he’s “just an average guy.”
Lehman said running a campaign would also be costly.
With regards to money, Mielke said he’s hoping for the financial support of his future constituents since he doesn’t have the backing of big corporations or unions, and that he doesn’t believe money should be the only thing that wins an election.
“I’m mainly listening to what the people want,” Mielke said. “A lot of seniors in this area want change. A lot of people my age are going to be that voice and I’m going to be that voice for them.”