|By Chris Hubbuch, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
On the ballot are
All are relative newcomers to politics, and all agree on one thing: the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare reform law commonly known as Obamacare, must go.
The winner will take on Rep.
The least ideological of the bunch, Kurtz is a 47-year-old retired military officer with a "get it done" attitude.
With endorsements from prominent Republicans like former Sen.
"I'm considered the establishment, which just mind boggles me, because I just don't see myself as the establishment," he said.
Admittedly the most moderate of the three, Kurtz is a pragmatist whose primary focus is political dysfunction.
A native of
Kurtz said Obamacare, the debt and jobs are the issues he hears most often while campaigning.
He would work to repeal the first, instead limiting patients' abilities to sue doctors and allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines.
"Competition is going to drive these prices down. Where consumers go and pick what they want," he said. "You do that with your auto, you do that with your homeowners insurance .... Why can't you do that for health insurance?"
Kurtz says it will take across-the-board cuts to bring federal spending in line.
That will include cuts to healthcare and defense, which together account for more than
"Those little drops in the bucket, over time, they do add up," he said.
A self-described "Reagan Republican," he's never run for office and admits that until recently he was among those who had given up on politics. In the end, he said, frustration got the better of him.
"Everybody does a good job of pointing at each other. The Democrats are guilty of it and the Republicans are guilty of looking at each other -- it's their fault," Kurtz said. "In the military we couldn't do that. We had to get stuff done."
Positioning himself as the outsider in the race, Van Doren, 66, is a retired building contractor and tool salesman from
He opposes foreign intervention and decries the rapid expansion of government power within our borders.
"We're losing our freedom," Van Doren said.
From warrantless searches to high incarceration rates, indefinite detention and the Patriot Act, Van Doren believes government has trampled the Fourth Amendment.
"We no longer can say we are becoming a police state," he said. "We are a police state."
Van Doren, who served one term on the
He favors regulatory reforms throughout the federal government, with the
Van Doren said the law should be phased out and replaced with a free market system.
"Let the market work and I know we'll have a lot less expensive care and probably a lot better care," he said.
He would also work to repeal the federal gas tax while promoting the use of coal and nuclear fuel and eliminating the
"Polluters should answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create -- not to
While not a pacifist, Van Doren said he opposes the "senseless wars" of the past decade as well as U.S. intervention in foreign governments.
"We can't be so involved in the internal affairs of other countries," he said. "Gaddafi and
Defending the Constitution
At the far right is Mueller, a strict constitutionalist who is a follower of Justice
She has called for impeachment of President
"That is what our founding fathers intended," she said. "The founding fathers did not intend for legislation or change to be easy."
Among her top priorities are securing the border -- whether through the addition of "many more" agents, military deployment or building a fence -- and deporting the estimated 11.5 million people here illegally.
"If we don't do that then citizenship in this country means nothing," she said. "And we no longer have a sovereign nation."
Unaccompanied minors whose parents don't claim them, she said, should be put up for adoption by U.S. families.
Mueller, 59, is a staunch supporter of First Amendment rights, which she says are under attack by the federal government, as well as gun rights.
She would work to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which she said has resulted in higher costs and has been "a major drag on our economy" and which she views as "a craftily designed Trojan horse, ready to destroy the constitutional rights of the American people once fully implemented."
Mueller instead favor legislation to encourage Americans to open health savings accounts and require co-pays and deductibles for all insurance plans.
On her website, Mueller advocates privatization of the
She is against solar and wind energy and favors an energy policy that promotes fossil fuels and nuclear power.
A strong opponent of abortion, she is endorsed by both Pro-life
Mueller said her training as an attorney qualify her to draft legislation and determine which laws are appropriate and which are unconstitutional. She also hold a degree in finance and has two years of nursing school, which she said would help her to craft better laws.
A cash disadvantage
Whichever candidate emerges from the primary faces a tough battle.
Since first winning the seat in 1996, Kind has had only one close election, edging out state Sen.
And the district has since grown more Democratic as the
Despite his newcomer status, Kurtz has proven himself the best fundraiser in the group, garnering about
He acknowledges his primary cash advantage -- he has about
Van Doren trails in the cash race. Raising just under
"You have to take advantage and play the cards," he said. "Nobody has done more with less than
Mueller has had the least success in fundraising. She has largely bankrolled her campaign, contributing nearly
Mueller is also the only one of the three without a campaign manager.
As for plans to put together a staff should she win on Tuesday, Mueller said that would depend on her fundraising success.
Mueller said she assumes she would get support from the state
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