Snapshot of Sixth Congressional District Debate

A debate yesterday between the 6th Congressional District candidates, incumbent Republican Congressman Glenn Grothman and Democrat Dan Kohl, focused on  their positions on many issues ranging from border security, healthcare, to legalizing marijuana. Josh Dukelow of WHBY radio in Appleton moderated the event.

On the issue of border security, both candidates expressed a need for a secure border. Dukelow asked both candidates: “Recent reports that 245 children are in federal government custody after being separated from their families at the border. In September a record number of families were arrested at the Southern border. If separation has not proven to be a deterrent how should the federal government get our southern border under control?”

Grothman responded:

“First of all I will say the Trump administration has changed their policy on separating families since it was first brought to light. What the Trump administration did was really a carry over from what the Obama administration does. This was one area I broke with the Trump administration. I weighed in to change the policy, and the policy they have in separating families is different now than when this biennium began.”

“As far as keeping people out in the future I believe we have to greatly increase border security, I’m in favor of the wall. Not only because you wan’t to deter people from coming here, but the huge cost associated with people coming here. Paying for healthcare for people of citizens of other countries, paying for education for citizens of another countries, paying for the criminal justice system to rein in citizens from other countries. I am all for stepped up border enforcement, we have voted for that in homeland security bills. We cannot continue to be our country without really cracking down on illegal people coming across the border.”

Kohl:

“We absolutely need to secure the border. We are a country of laws and we have to enforce then, but I refuse to accept the fact that It’s a choice between separating small children from their parents and enforcing the border. That’s disgraceful, it’s not who we are as a country. We can have an immigration system that secures the border in a more effective way where employers get the workers that they need that’s in keeping with who we are as a country. All of this underscores the need for immigration reform that’s comprehensive and bipartisan.”

A question of the need to enforce the Voter ID law was also posed to both candidates, Grothman responded in favor of the system, while Kohl endorsed automatic voter registration.

Grothman: “People need ID’s sometimes to go to the pharmacist to get life saving drugs, people may need photo ID sometimes to get movie rentals. So the idea that this is too hard of a thing to do to vote is ridiculous…. If Mexico can handle voter ID I don’t know why the United States would not.”

Kohl: “We should encourage people to exercise their franchise rights to vote, not discourage them. Let’s be clear voter ID there are very few instances of fraud, this is done for partisan reasons to advantage parties in power. So we should be expanding the ability of people to vote. I’m in favor of automatic voter registration, I think we should consider instituting a national voter holiday so people have the ability to leave their work places and vote.”

On the topic on the legalization of marijuana, both candidates seemed to support changes to the current laws.

Kohl: “I would make medical marijuana legal right away. We have a huge opioid epidemic crisis in this country so I think marijuana is a much safer alternative to opioids…. As for recreational marijuana I think it should be a states rights issue.”

Grothman.  “I’ve already co-sponsored a bill lowering it to schedule 2… I am aware our marijuana laws need updating and I think I’ve taken a leadership role in that in congress.”

Dukelow asked both candidates if they believed Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide,  was “the settled law of the land.”

Kohl: “I do believe Roe vs Wade is a settled law in the supreme court. I think that these abortion procedures are the most difficult gut wrenching choices that families make, so I don’t think it is the role of government to interfere with those choices. In Roe v. Wade they recognize there’s a number of interests that are at stake and I think that they did it in a proper and calibrated way and it should remain the law of the land. ”

Grothman: “Abortion was illegal throughout most of this country’s history. I think Planned Parenthood probably still hasn’t forgiven me for being the author of the 24 hour waiting period bill here in Wisconsin. I think it’s unusual when people generally decide to become a member of the larger government regulatory party and all the sudden when it comes to regulating abortion clinics, it’s like all the sudden they become libertarian. No, Roe v. Wade is not a settled law and you can see that by the number of states that wish abortion were illegal again. The huge number of states which had their law overturned when Roe v. Wade came down…. I am pro-life and I think it should be up to the state of Wisconsin to see what they want to do. “

Kohl and Grothman both said they support providing protections for those with preexisting conditions, although Kohl criticized Grothman’s support of repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The full debate can be found on WHBY’s website.