AP NEWS

Lloyd learns, from Congressional race defeat, the value of listening

November 12, 2016 GMT

WISCONSIN DELLS – If she learned nothing else on the Sixth District Congressional campaign trail, Sarah Lloyd said, she learned the importance of listening.

The message that she heard loud and clear from her defeat at the hands of first-term Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, and from the victory of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump, was that rural and small-town voters want their voices heard.

“I’ve learned that we want to listen more to the issues that are important to people of the Sixth District, especially the Portages and the Montellos,” she said. “As Democrats, we must listen, to establish what solutions people are looking for.”

The Wisconsin Dells dairy farmer, a Democrat, got 37.3 percent of the vote to Grothman’s 57.2 percent in the final tally from Tuesday’s election. An independent candidate, Jeff Dahlke of Mequon, picked up 5.5 percent of the vote.

The Sixth District – which, after redrawing as a result of the 2010 census, includes parts of 11 counties, including all of Columbia and Marquette counties – includes much of the historically conservative Fox River Valley.

In her home county, Columbia County, Lloyd kept up with Grothman, and even finished slightly ahead of him, with 13,778 votes to Grothman’s 13,081 and 1,594 for Dahlke. (Democrat Russ Feingold of Middleton, who was hoping to unseat Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Oshkosh, would have done so if it were up to Columbia County voters. He got 15,056 votes to Johnson’s 13,557, in unofficial results. The numbers aren’t official until after Monday’s canvass.)

Lloyd said she interprets the victory of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as indicating that “people are looking for an anti-establishment candidate, at least at the Presidential level.”

But although Grothman’s term will only be his second in Congress, Lloyd noted that Grothman is the epitome of a “career politician,” with 12 years in the state Assembly and a decade in the state Senate.

Lloyd said she thinks many Democratic voters in the Sixth District didn’t cast ballots in Tuesday’s election, possibly because Democratic candidates didn’t adequately communicate their understanding of, or solutions for, the struggles of rural people and their communities.

Lloyd’s campaign started with a small, simple brochure asking for $5 donations, and noting that “those at the top are getting richer, but the rest of us are losing ground.”

During the campaign, she talked of how the recent obstructionism of Congress is not helping the economic and social struggles common to many to people.

“We as Democrats need to go out there and be part of the solution in our communities,” she said.

Whether that will entail another run for Congress in two years remains to be seen, Lloyd said. She said she plans to meet with supporters soon to discuss that very issue.

“I am a true believer in small-d democracy,” Lloyd said. “We have elections, and that is how we have this exchange of ideas and exchange of solutions – and that is a good thing about the United States.”

For now, she’s back on her town of Newport farm, where she and her husband, Nels Nelson, operate a 400-cow dairy farm.

“My chickens are happy,” she said, “that I’m back to take care of them.”