The 2018 Wisconsin gubernatorial election race is beginning to warm up, with a number of Democratic candidates—state assemblyman Dana Wachs and superintendent of public instruction Tony Evers, among others—declaring their intent to challenge incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker.
One of Walker’s challengers made a stop in the Chippewa Valley on Tuesday. Bob Harlow, the first Democrat to declare a run for governor in 2018, is a third-generation Wisconsin native whose political platform focuses heavily on state infrastructure.
The Barneveld native doesn’t want voters to focus on his age—he’s 25—and instead on his ideas.
“Wisconsin is badly in need of investment in infrastructure. The reason why, I think, you see companies with good-paying jobs leaving Wisconsin, and a lot of young people leaving as well, is because we haven’t been making those investments,” Harlow said.
Harlow’s father is a woodworker in Barneveld; his mother teaches English. His political platform includes more money for public schools, but a larger priority will solve the money issue, Harlow hopes: building jobs to bring more families and young adults to the state, and as a result, recharging the economy.
His governorship would focus on bringing a 200 mile-per-hour high-speed rail connecting the Twin Cities, Chicago and several major hubs in Wisconsin, including Eau Claire, Green Bay, Wausau, La Crosse and Madison.
“If you had a rail line linking Eau Claire directly to Minneapolis, you’re talking about a 30-minute commute by high-speed rail…you’ll have residents of the Valley who can go commute to Minneapolis. People will come, build houses, invest in our schools,” Harlow said.
If elected, Harlow said, he plans to attempt to funnel money into fixing the existing roadways and bridges in Wisconsin as well.
Harlow isn’t worried about Walker being re-elected, or that President Donald J. Trump appeared to win the majority of votes in rural Midwestern areas in last fall’s presidential election.
“In 2018, I think you’ll see a huge turnout,” he said. “I believe that not only will we have a Democratic governor in 2018, but there is a decent chance we’ll get a Democratic legislature.”
Harlow believes the reason Trump won Wisconsin and other Midwest states was due to overly stringent voter ID laws and inaccessible polling places. If elected, he said, he would attempt to get as many voters in the booths as possible.
Most recently, the Democratic candidate has challenged Governor Walker’s Foxconn deal, and has begun a petition against it. The petition has garnered over 500 signatures, and can be found at bobharlow.net/WarRoom.
Harlow ran for Congress in California in 2016 and lost the primary election. He announced his candidacy for Wisconsin governor in March 2017, according to an Associated Press report.
On the evening of Wednesday, August 30, the Chippewa Falls community might see a crowd quietly processing through Riverfront Park.
People walking in the crowd will not wear any politics-related buttons or shirts. No signs will be waved; no catchy political mottoes will be chanted.
“People are extremely stressed out, fearful, concerned…by continuing to have that turmoil within us, we can’t engage in an active, peaceful manner,” said Rita Simon, organizer of the Silent Peace Walk. The walk will be held at the Riverfront Park in Chippewa Falls beginning at 6 p.m.
The walk is free; the public is encouraged to attend. At the beginning, Simon will briefly instruct marchers; the silent walk is expected be about 30 minutes long.
Simon said she and two other local women became interested in holding the walk when they became concerned about the “current turmoil in this country and in the world.”
She asks people not to bring political wear, buttons or signs, in the interest of keeping the gathering neutral. “This is not going to have political undertones. I think that’s why everyone is stressed out,” Simon said. “The point is not to be a rally or protest. It’s not to express our own political views.”
Piero Falci, a stress-reduction instructor, began the tradition in Florida in 2006, Simon said, and this will be Chippewa Falls’ first silent peace walk. The walk will continue rain or shine.
Other walks have been held in New York and Baltimore, according to Silent Peace Walk’s website. More information can be found at www.silentpeacewalks.org.