Former DATCP secretary running for state Senate

April 27, 2020 GMT

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Former Wisconsin agriculture Secretary Brad Pfaff has decided to run for state Senate five months after Republicans ousted him Gov. Tony Evers’ cabinet.

Pfaff announced Monday that he’ll run against Republican Dan Kapanke for an open seat in western Wisconsin’s 32nd Senate District. Incumbent Democrat Jennifer Shilling announced this month that she won’t seek re-election.

The Republican-controlled Senate rejected Pfaff’s cabinet appointment in November, in essence firing him.

Republicans decided to punish him after he criticizing them for not moving fast enough to release $200,000 to fund farmer mental health services and suicide prevention efforts. Pfaff also upset the GOP and powerful agriculture industry groups when he pushed forward with new setback rules designed to protect neighbors from the stench of manure. Opponents argued the rules were so rigid no one would be able to expand their operations and local governments could use the restrictions to block factory farms.

Kapanke defeated Pfaff to win the seat in 2004 before losing to Shilling in a 2011 recall. That election was spurred by anger over Kapanke’s support for then-Gov. Scott Walker’s signature law stripping public workers of their union rights.