Tuesday, August 25, 2009

WI-8 Gets Early Look at Candidate Reid Ribble

Reid Ribble is a Republican candidate for the eighth congressional district seat currently held by Democrat Dr. Steve Kagen. Last week Ribble held a question and answer session hosted by a Republican women's group at the Appleton Yacht Club.

While I wasn't sure what to expect from Ribble, I came away feeling quite impressed. It is clear that he is a serious candidate who has thought about what he sees as the issues and has invested his own time and effort in getting his campaign started.

The crowd at the event numbered about thirty. Some there knew Ribble personally and offered a testimonial to his character. Others appeared to be feeling out his positions on various issues. It was clear that all in the room were not supporters of Steve Kagen or of the current Democratic agenda both in Congress and from the White House.

The session consisted primarily of questions from the crowd. These ranged from the tactical to the philosophical.

On fundraising, it appears Ribble has thought about just how much money he believes he will need to be successful. As much as people bemoan money in politics, it is foolish to pretend it is not part of the process. In a line I found particularly thought provoking, Ribble made the point that interest group money flows into politics because average citizens are by and large unwilling to finance campaigns.

Health care was obviously a big topic and one which Ribble discussed at length. He emphasized individual ownership and portability of coverage; drawing on his own experience as a business owner who provides health coverage for his employees.

Someone asked about his campaign's top three ideas to which he replied that we needed to: stop borrowing; stop spending; and stop taxing. During the discussion he emphasized his commitment to fiscal responsibility several times.

A question on foreign policy did arise and while he was able to handle it well, this is an area where a candidate like Ribble has an obvious weakness. When the top issues are the stimulus, cap and trade, and health care, a successful local businessman turned candidate is a great idea. If one year from now major international developments dramatically switch the nation's focus, a candidate like Ribble could seem out of place. Collapse in Pakistan or a nuclear armed Iran could potentially push some of the current domestic concerns out of the minds of voters. Admittedly, I'm not sure how an allergist from Appleton is any more qualified in foreign policy than a roofing contractor from Appleton; but an allergist who has served two terms in the House may hold the edge in this contest with some less ideologically driven voters.

Ribble described himself as a "common sense conservative" and a "reluctant Republican." Both are labels that could appeal to voters unhappy with the current direction of the country, but unwilling to argue for a return to the policies of the Bush administration. I think Ribble was clear that he can't (and wouldn't) support reckless borrow-and-spend policies regardless of which party was advocating them. In what could be the line of the campaign, Ribble said that he wanted to tell Dr. Kagen that he is, "allergic to runaway federal spending."

While it is still early, the 2010 campaign season is apparently underway. The level of interest in the current issues is sure to bring increased focus on races throughout the country. This focus will be even more intense in districts like the Wisconsin 8th, where there is a very real chance that an incumbent could lose. The early indication from Ribble is that he is a formidable candidate and will be tough opponent both for Kagen and the other Republican challengers.


Paul - Berry Laker said...

Jeremy, thank you for the post.

I have been watching for information about Mr Ribble. Thank you also for the link to his web site.

Still digesting your post and his web site and just have a couple of questions.

You mentioned

"Health care was obviously a big topic and one which Ribble discussed at length. He emphasized individual ownership and portability of coverage; drawing on his own experience as a business owner who provides health coverage for his employees."

Can you expand? What did he specifically say he would do on health care?

You also said he was asked and said, "stop borrowing; stop spending; and stop taxing." What about tax cuts? Business, personal? It is my fault for not attending and hope Mr. Ribble's Q& A was not just for show.

Thank you again for your information and I will try to keep informed with Mr Ribble through his web site which still doesn't have any specifics on it. Hopefully he will change that soon.

Keep up the Great work and have a GREAT week.

Jeremy R. Shown said...

Paul - thanks for the comment.

First on the Q&A - I did not get the impression it was just for show. Quite the opposite, in fact. Ribble encouraged people to ask tough question as a way for him to sharpen his skills.

On taxes, Ribble definitely gave the impression he was for less taxation, but I don't recall that we got down to specifics. I don't think there was a specific question on which taxes he would cut, so I just don't think we touched on it in the hour.

Ribble indicated he was for individual ownership of health care, not for the employer provided system we have now. He thought individual ownership would help drive costs down in two ways: Individuals shopping around for the lowest premium; and people making smarter choices about when to use health care if the costs came out of their pocket (he gave an example of someone going to the emergency room for what they thought was probably strep throat).

He also mentioned that as an employer, he is not simply absorbing the costs of higher insurance premiums. He passes some of it on to customers in terms of higher prices and some to his employees in terms of lower wages. Common sense when you think about it, but from some of the larger debate going on today, it's obvious some people don't even think about these kinds of effects.

Ribble thought that if he passed the premium he was paying on to his employees, they could go out and shop for their own insurance and make a better choice for themselves. As it is they get no choice other than the one he makes as their employer.

Overall, I would say the session was a good first step. I am certain he will have more events like this and the depth and detail will expand.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Been looking into Ribble's background. Looks like he has a home in Sherwood and lived there until recently. That would mean he is a resident of the 6th CD or was until just recently. Seems he he also held positions in a lobbying group representing a roofers...he has given lots of money to some pretty powerful state GOP candidates in the past. Not that that is unheard of, but I think that after the past two elections and the State and NRC getting involved in primaries in the 8th, I would be suspicious.

Is Ribble just a a carpetbagger picked by the GOP elite for the 8th? I hope we get a fair primary this time around.

Jeremy R. Shown said...

Anon -

Thanks for the comment.

I do share your concern for a fair and open primary and believe that will best serve the people of WI-8.

The lobbying group you refer to is probably ROOFPAC. Ribble made no secret of his involvement in a national roofing trade group, where I believe he served as president.

I can't speak directly to Ribble's residency, but I doubt it will be much of an issue.It was clear from the personal testimonials I heard that he and his family and business have clearly been a presence in the Fox Valley for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Residency is a big issue, and a legal requirement.
If Ribble moves into the area, just to run after taking company profits to live in a $660,000 house in elite Shorewood...that is an important point.
It's also the address of one of his companies, 'reel loud records' which also has a home/office in Nashville for religious music.

Seems Ribble has several companies, that need a look into to see if his disclosures are complete.
You dot your 'i's' and cross your 't's' before you run for federal or state office.
The PAC money has a list of names, that will hurt Ribble. Can you say Texas Swift Boaters?
Very little of his $130,000 came from within the state. The FEC records have been out for over a week, and no follow-up from you, yet.

Jeremy, don't discount residency, as that is where the money trail starts and ends.

Reid said...

Jeremy it may be helpful for me to step in with a few clarifications here. I have heard the "carpet-bagger" claim too often. I do live in Sherwood and I have lived there for 10 years. It is about 2 miles south of the 8th district border. I have been honest and straight forward about this right from the beginning.

Also regarding the "legal requirement" alluded to by anonymous. The US Constitution is pretty clear about residency requirements. It states in Article 1 section 2 "No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained the age of twenty five years, and been a citizen of the United States, and who shall not when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen." Pretty clear.

I have lived in the Fox Valley (and obviously WI) my entire life. That is longer than Steve Kagen, Andy Williams and Marc Savard. My company is in Kaukauna, WI and has been for over a decade. For two decades prior to that it was on Manitowoc Rd just south of Appleton. That location has been in and out of the 8th district a couple of times depending on gerrymandering. So the location where I sleep at night should not be a concern.

What people need to be concerned about is why I am running. They can go to my website and read the blog I wrote in July that pretty well spells that out.

Now, onto the claim about me being prepicked by the GOP. NO ONE FROM THE GOP STATE OFFICE OR NATIONAL OFFICE has encouraged me to run. In fact some of the opposite has occured. They seem to have someone picked and rest assured it is not me. (Even though it should be) So let's put that rumor to rest right now.

Finally, let's discuss the money accusation. Congressman Kagen has raised more money from PACs and special interest groups around the country than you can imagine. If we conservatives are serious about winning we need to approach our friends and supporters wherever they live to help. Would it be nice if I raised all of the funds needed in the 8th? For sure. If anonymous is really concerned he/she should send me a check and it will help. Talk is cheap. Raising funds is hard work.

Almost all of my funds have come from personal business friends of mine through out the US. I went there first because that is the toughest place to raise money. I needed to prove to myself it could be done. Do you really think that Marc Savard can win against Kagen when he only raised $3,000.00? Or Andy Williams who did not even file a report? Conservatives need to get serious about this or Kagen will win and our country will lose.

And finally, if anonymous would like to visit me at my house in "elite" Sherwood, I would be happy to have him/her over for an inspection and a different conclusion will be drawn. That's not to say I have not been successful at my business. Would you rather that I wasn't? It seems to me we already have a bunch of folks in Congress that cannot balance a checkbook. Just maybe my experience at meeting a budget and completing projects on time will help. When was the last time Congress did that?

Jeremy, I have appreciated your blog and the followup comments. Thanks for posting.


Reid Ribble