Professor of Geography and Geology Lisa Theo declared two weeks ago that she will be running for a seat in the state senate. She plans to replace Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover), who announced on March 23 that he will not be seeking reelection in the fall.
Theo, who lives in Tomahawk, will represent the 12th State Senate District if elected. This district covers much of the northeastern territory of the state. She said she wishes to promote workers’ rights and to improve the economy of the area. She is quoted as saying, “Attacks on Wisconsinites’ civil liberties and the lack of civility from both state and national politicians prompted me to make this decision. Here in the Northwoods we are ready for someone to restore respect in Madison while still standing up for our values.” Theo is most noted for her willingness to work with her opponents.
Theo faces some difficulty in the race for the senate seat. The abrupt resignation of Sen. Pam Galloway (R-Wausau) last month due to “family issues” leveled what was once a Republican majority. There are currently 16 Democratic and 16 Republican seats in the state senate, which means the race for the open seat will be an intense one.
Theo’s opponent, Representative Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst), has experience in working for the state senate. Theo has never held a public office and is not very well known in the District 12 area of the state, but plans to campaign door-to-door over the summer, during her time away from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, in order gain support. Money will also be a prominent factor in this race for the senate seat.
According to the “online clearinghouse for Democratic action,” ActBlue.com, Theo has raised only $300 this year. To give some perspective, the current seat-holder Holperin has received $137,840 in donations this year. Tiffany is fairly well-known in the District 12 area, so Theo must gain support from the people and prominent political figures in the area in order to be successful. According to the Stevens Point Journal, Theo is confident that her lack of experience in politics at the state level may be an asset to her campaign. Its article and analysis argues she does not have a partisan voting record, and her experience as a professor at UWSP has provided transferrable skills like communication and collaboration.