2nd Congressional District Race Candidate: Mark Pocan (Democrat)
Post by Jesse Russell on 8/1/2012 4:45pm
State Rep. Mark Pocan believes he’s the right candidate for Wisconsin’s Second Congressional District to deal with the polarization in what will likely continue to be a Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives.
In his 14 years representing the 78th District in Wisconsin’s state legislature Pocan says he’s learned how to earn respect on the other side of the aisle. He said that skill is one of the reasons Milwaukee Magazine named him “the only consensus All-American in the talent-poor legislative league.”
“You don’t have to compromise your values,” Pocan said, “but you do have to get something done.”
Pocan does this by finding out what he has in common with other legislators. He gave the example of Rock County which, if elected, he could be representing along with District 1 Republican incumbent Paul Ryan (if he wins re-election).
Pocan said of his relationship with the Republican, “We have very little in common ideologically, but what we really have in common is the fact that there’s an empty GM plant and a lot of empty plants that fed into the GM plant. My job, if I’m doing my job well, is to work very closely with Paul Ryan so that we both are doing everything we can to try and fill that plant and get those jobs back in Rock County.”
Although Pocan acknowledges much of his job will be finding ways to work with legislators he may not agree with in principle, he also knows that the constituents of District 2 have “a lot of special expectations. They want someone who has, one, strong progressive values and, two, someone who can be a national leader on a lot of those issues as well.”
He said he’s ready to stand up to the Tea Party, which Pocan says has dragged Republicans far to the right: “We need to send our most experienced and accomplished progressive to take them on and that’s something I’ve got on my resume.”
Pocan recently attended the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) annual conference in Utah. Pocan has become a thorn in the side of the organization which allegedly helps legislators work with lobbyists and corporations to develop “model legislation” that can be shared in state houses across the country. Due to ALEC’s 501(c)3 status it can’t discriminate against the political bent of legislators who become members.
Pocan said his goal in joining ALEC six or eight years ago was to figure out why the organization was so effective. He said going to Washington, DC would help him bring the fight against ALEC and similar groups, like Americans for Prosperity, to Ground Zero. “You can be more effective to make sure it doesn’t come down to Wisconsin and all the other states,” Pocan asserted.
The seat Pocan is hoping constituents will elect him to is historic. Not only was Rep. Tammy Baldwin the first openly gay non-incumbent elected to the House, she was also the first female elected to Congress from the state of Wisconsin. In the August 14 primary one of his opponents is state Rep. Kelda Roys (D-Madison), a fact which has caused a small rift to form between two demographics that would normally be united behind Baldwin.
If Pocan wins it would leave Rep.Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) as the only woman in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. If Roys wins it would mean Wisconsin’s LGBT community will have lost its sole openly gay representation in Congress.
He said that this election is especially important for the LGBT community:“One of the sad parts about this election cycle is Tammy’s hopefully going to the Senate, Barney Frank is retiring, David Cicilline in a really tough race, so you could wind up with only one openly LGBT member of the House.”
Nearly six years ago Pocan married his longtime partner Phillip Frank in Ontario, but the marriage isn’t legally recognized in the state of Wisconsin. Pocan said on occasion he’ll have the opportunity to meet with President Barack Obama who admitted this year he’s “evolving” on the issue of gay marriage “and it’ll be good for him to meet Phil because I think that makes it very different. We’ve seen all of the polling and if people know someone who’s gay you’re far more likely to be accepting, you understand what it means and I think there’s a role for me in that.”
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Jesse was born and raised in Connecticut, began blogging in 1997, and moved to Madison in 2003. In 2005, he co-founded dane101 along with Kristian Knutson and Shane Wealti. In addition to helping nearly a dozen contributors run this website he's helped launch various events in the city including What's Your Damage?!, the MadPubQuiz of Awesomeness, the Fire Ball Masquerade, Dane101's Freakin' Halloweekend, and more.