Dane County Democratic Party chairwoman running for SOS

April 20, 2022 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The leader of the Dane County Democratic Party is preparing to challenge long-time Secretary of State Doug La Follette in a primary this summer.

Democratic consultant Sachin Chheda told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he’s helping Alexia Sabor prepare to enter the race and a formal announcement will be coming soon. Sabor didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

She describes herself on Twitter as a “politigeek, environmentalist, foodie, patient advocate.” She worked as a project manager at website designer Earthling Interactive in Madison, according to a LinkedIn account Chheda forwarded to a reporter. He said she left the job in March to campaign full-time.

Her decision to enter the race comes as the 81-year-old La Follette faces a formidable challenge from Republican state Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, who has said she wants to shift oversight of Wisconsin elections from the bipartisan state elections commission to the secretary of state’s office. Democrats fear the move would politicize state elections and ensure Donald Trump wins battleground Wisconsin should he run for president in 2024. President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Trump in the state in 2020.

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La Follette is a distant relative of “Fighting” Bob La Follette, a progressive who was Wisconsin’s 20th governor, served in the U.S. House and Senate and ran for president in 1924. Doug La Follette was first elected as secretary of state in 1974. He served one term before stepping down in 1978 to mount a failed run for lieutenant governor. He successfully ran for secretary of state again in 1982 and has won reelection nine times since.

Republicans have gradually stripped the office of almost all its duties and staff and relegated La Follette to a cramped office in the Capitol basement.

But with Republicans openly talking about moving election oversight to the office, the stakes in this year’s race are higher than ever. Sabor’s decision to run signals at least some Democrats feel La Follette will struggle against Loudenbeck.

La Follette said he doesn’t know Sabor and doesn’t know what to make her of entering the race against him. He insisted he’s the best candidate, noting he was the only Democrat to retain a statewide office in 2010 and 2014. He said he thinks he gets votes from both Democrats and Republicans.

“I’m working very hard to get reelected and keep a Democrat in that office,” La Follette said. “I’m a pretty independent guy. Maybe that’s why Democrats don’t like me some times.”

Sabor and La Follette would face each other in an Aug. 9 primary. The general election is Nov. 8.

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This story has been corrected to show the Democratic consultant is called Sachin Chheda not Chedda.