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WI-08: John Gard vs. Steve Kagen

Wisconsin’s 8th District


Only three times in the last 62 years—1974, ’76 and ’98—has a Democrat won the U.S. House seat from Wisconsin’s 8th District (Appleton-Green Bay). In each case, the race was very close and the Democrat who won the seat was eventually turned out of office.

So with three-term Republican Rep. Mark Green leaving to run for governor this year, the odds should favor Republican retention of the open House seat. But no one in either party is taking this for granted. In fact, the 8th District almost always shows up on lists of vulnerable Republican-held House seats.

Why? Much has to do with the Democratic nominee—multi-millionaire Dr. Steve Kagen. The founder of the Kagen Allergy Clinics, the physician-candidate now oversees branches in Appleton, Green Bay, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac. It is no exaggeration to say that the Kagen name is as familiar districtwide as, say, that of Mayo in Minneapolis or DeBakey in Houston. As a recognized expert on the causes of asthma and allergies, Dr. Kagen has social and professional connections that transcend the boundaries of the 8th District and indeed the United States.

The Kagen name also carries some baggage. He has sued more than 80 patients, some for less than $200 in bills.

Also, Kagen hails from the left of the Democratic Party. He calls for “rolling back the Bush tax cuts,” is pro-abortion, and opposes the U.S. action in Iraq. One could easily liken him to another Democratic physician, Howard Dean but, so far, without the famous scream (although one TV news clip actually shows Kagen sounding somewhat “Deanish” by strangely introducing himself with: “Who the hell is Dr. Kagen?”).

Standing between Kagen and Congress is John Gard, speaker of the state house of representatives and a stalwart conservative. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Gard has served in the state legislature since winning his seat in a special election in 1987 at age 23. As speaker, Gard, voted to cut both income and property taxes by more than $1 billion, helped secure passage of the largest property-tax cut in Wisconsin history, and voted to eradicate the state tax on Social Security benefits, a move that now saves taxpayers more than $80 million a year. Throughout his tenure in Madison, the lawmaker was rated “strongly pro-life” by Wisconsin Right to Life.

On the red-hot issue of illegal immigration, the GOP nominee says without hesitation: “The law must be followed and make illegal trespassers understand that the law will be enforced, period.” To Gard, that means opposition to the guest-worker program and “comprehensive” immigration reform favored by Senate Democrats.

Given the liberalism of Dr. Kagen in Wisconsin’s conservative 8th District, the opportunity is great for conservatives around the country to make sure this is one place the Democrats don’t pick up a seat.

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Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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