This November, Republican incumbent Glenn Grothman will square off against Democrat Jessica King for the right to represent Wisconsin’s sixth congressional district — which includes communities situated between Green Bay, Madison and Milwaukee.
Grothman won the seat in 2014, prior to which he served in both the Wisconsin state senate and house of representatives for more than twenty years.
“I think I’m maybe a little more independent than the average congressman,” he says. “I try to keep myself free from special interests — I don’t take money from drug companies, I don’t take money from cigarette companies, I don’t take money from payday loan lenders. I like to fancy that I look out for the average guy.”
Grothman’s campaign has accepted $5,000 from the American Crystal Sugar Company Political Action Committee — also known as a PAC, $7,000 from the Koch Industries PAC and nearly $120,000 from a Joint Fundraising Committee called “Take Back the House 2020”.
Take Back the House’s donors include PACSs representing Station Casinos, Midland Energy, Dell Technologies, Magnolia Oil & Gas and others.
His challenger this November — Democrat Jessica King — briefly served in the Wisconsin state senate in 2011, narrowly beating republican Randy Hopper after he was recalled. She lost the seat to republican Rick Gudex by about one percent in 2012.
King has a significantly smaller war chest for this campaign, about a quarter million dollars in donations compared to Grothman’s nearly 1.5 million.
On police reform, Grothman believes police operating procedures should be left up to local municipalities. He says that he’s not opposed to some federal policing standards, but use of force policies should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
“The big thing we have to look out for is not just defunding police, but getting rid of qualified immunity. You can create a situation where police are afraid of being sued everytime they grab or handcuff somebody, which would result in a passive police force, which would result in crime going up.”
Speaking with Wisconsin Eye in July, King said that she supports increasing funding for mental health alternatives to the traditional carceral system. She argues that a chronic lack of funding for those public structures leads to police officers responding to cases they aren’t qualified to handle.
She also believes in increasing federal accountability for officers in use of force cases.
“If we were properly funding the Department of Justice Special Prosecutors so they could investigate every single officer involved death, that’s what it takes,” she told Wisconsin Eye.
On federal pandemic financial aid, Grothman says that he doesn’t support a blanket unemployment insurance bump, such as the $600 increase approved earlier this year.
Instead, he believes any future federal funding should go towards ensuring that the nation has adequate medical supplies, as well as programs to retrain the workforce for a post-pandemic economy.
“Right now — be it in manufacturing, healthcare or construction — there are all sorts of jobs that have to be filled. I think a goal for the government should be to make sure people are trained for those jobs.”
On that count, Grothman and King are in partial alignment. King has said that any future federal stimulus packages should go towards rebuilding the nation’s ailing job market. She cites the Civilian Conservation Corps of the Roosevelt Presidency as inspiration for her job creation plan.
“One, it has to focus on restoring public workers at the state and municipal level,” she says. “The other thing we have to do is really look at some of these other mechanisms that will expand employment opportunities for people.”
Grothman is a supporter of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies. He argues that the President has dramatically decreased immigration through the U.S.-Mexico border. He takes a standpoint that America should choose its immigrants and be more selective about who is let into the country.
“President Trump has reduced immigration from around 100,000 a month to around 10,000 a month, which I think is a good thing. We should pick our immigrants, we do not necessarily get the best from around the world if we get people sneaking across the border.
King supports creating a legal path to residency and citizenship for those who are part of DACA — The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Under the Obama era order, those who were brought to the U.S. as children are granted an extendable period of legal clemency.
“I think they enrolled in good faith. We’re talking about 800,000 people and it’s interesting to note that, out of those 800,000 people, at least 41,000 of them are frontline healthcare workers and we need them.”
According to the Center for Migration Studies, about 43,500 DACA recipients are healthcare workers.
Both Glenn Grothman and Jessica King will be on the ballot for Wisconsin’s Sixth Congressional district — which includes portions of Columbia, Fond Du Lac, Green Lake, Manitowoc, Marquette, Ozaukee, Sheboygan and Waushara counties.