The race for the 5th Congressional District will be determined by whether voters approve of the work a Washington stalwart has done during his 32 years on the Hill or whether they believe the time is now for a change.
Voters will choose between Jim Sensenbrenner, a 16-term Republican, or Democrat Dave Heaster, a political newcomer from Sussex, when they head to the polls on Tuesday.
Both candidates say that improving the health of the economy will be their fundamental priority if they are elected to office.
"America is hurting," Sensenbrenner said. "And it's hurting because of high employment."
Sensenbrenner promises to focus on creating jobs for those out of work and underemployed.
"Job creators are not companies. Job creators are the middle class," Heaster said. "We need to make sure that the middle class can thrive."
According to Heaster, the economy is driven by the demand for goods and services rather than a supply-side approach.
"It doesn't work and there is a reason why its not taught in economics 101, because it is not a sound principle," he said.
Sensenbrenner said he will concentrate on shrinking the nation's debt if he is successful on Tuesday.
"We are literally mortgaging our grandchildren and great-grandchildren's future," he said. "We are spending the money on ourselves and sending the bill to future generations."
Heaster, a IT professional who has three teenage children, said that voters should think of him as a candidate that "can walk in their shoes."
Heaster is an E-business architect at Kohler Co. He has also served in technology positions, such as Internet marketing, at companies including Dunk.net, Land's End, Harley-Davidson, and Rockwell Automation. It's Heaster's first bid for public office.
Sensenbrenner, a lawyer and former state legislator, introduced controversial legislation in Congress, such as the U.S. Patriot Act. He voted with his party 88 percent of the time. A Republican, he was one of the House managers in the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.
The 5th Congressional District is the most Republican districts in Wisconsin and also the wealthiest. The district's new boundaries include all of Jefferson and Washington counties, and parts of Milwaukee, Waukesha and Dodge counties. Patch communities included in the district are Brookfield, Menomonee Falls, Sussex, Waukesha, Wauwatosa and Greenfield.
Sensenbrenner said he will focus on supporting the scientific research, revitalize the space program and more effective oversight of government agencies.
"One of my favorite quotes is from Ronald Reagan and he said, 'You would be amazed at what you can do in this town if you don't mind someone else taking credit for it," Sensenbrenner said.
If elected, Heaster said that he will focus his attention on campaign finance reform, an investment in education and improving the partisan culture in Washington.
"This partisan stuff … everyone is sick of it," he said. "We need to be statesmen when we get into office."
Sensenbrenner said that he has a successful record of working across party lines throughout his career, using examples such as the Adam Walsh Act, a 25-year reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and an amendment to the Americans With Disabilities Act to protect those with treatable diseases.
"I'm really proud of the fact that I have been able to work in a bipartisan way to do oversight and get at systemic problems," Sensenbrenner said.
- Democrat Dave Heaster