Sen. Pat Kreitlow
Sen. Pat Kreitlow

Former State Sen. Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls) has formed an exploratory committee for a possible run for the 7th District U.S. Congress seat currently held by Sean Duffy (R-Ashland).

Kreitlow announced the plans Saturday night at the Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner, held at the Heyde Center for the Arts in Chippewa Falls.

The announcement was not an official declaration of candidacy. Kreitlow said after the banquet that the formation of a committee allows him to get the process started while keeping his options open.

“An exploratory committee means we can raise funds and hire staff, to see if this is a fight the middle class can win next year,” he said.

Kreitlow, who gained name recognition by being a news anchor on WEAU-TV for several years, was elected to the state Senate in 2006 after defeating long-time Republican incumbent Dave Zien.

Kreitlow only served one term in the Senate, however. He was defeated in last November’s election by former State Rep. Terry Moulton.

Kreitlow has not been far from politics since losing that election, though. He has appeared as a speaker at a number of Democratic Party events.

In making his announcement, Kreitlow said that when he ran against Zien, he made a similar announcement 13 months before the election. This announcement was 19 months ahead of the November 2012 election.

In remarks to the Democrats present, Kreitlow criticized Duffy for his recent comment about having trouble making ends meet on a $174,000 Congressional salary, for calling for the repeal of the federal health care law, and for working to water down recent Wall Street reforms.

Kreitlow had also appeared at the Eau Claire County Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner the night before, but made no such announcement. He said he had not decided on the move until Saturday, and was waiting to see if the Democrats, now in the minority in the U.S. House of Representatives, would “roll over” to the Republican demands on budget measures. However, he was encouraged by the party standing its ground and forcing a compromise.

Kreitlow said there has already been widespread disappointment in the Republicans on both the state and national level.

“They said they were going to fight for jobs, but they fight against the middle class,” he said.

Kreitlow’s interest in running for Congress throws into question any possible candidacy for his old seat in the state Senate should Democrats attempt a recall drive against Moulton. In response to recent legislation, Democrats have targeted all Republican senators currently eligible for recall. A recall drive against Moulton cannot be started until November.

Kreitlow’s interest in running against Duffy also presupposes he will be eligible for the position. Because of the 2010 Census, all Congressional district boundaries are being re-drawn.

Chippewa Falls is on the southern end of the 7th Congressional District, while Eau Claire is in the 3rd District currently represented by Democrat Ron Kind. Kreitlow could find himself living in Kind’s district, especially if Republicans, who control redistricting due to their majority status in the Legislature, see him as a threat.

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