Assembly Race Shaping for Door County Voters

Plus: Another candidate enters the race for Gallagher’s seat

Renee Paplham of Kewaunee is a self-described middle-class, working mom who drives a 10-year-old car and gets fired up over “anything affecting marginalized people,” she said.

That fire – and the experience she had leading local protests after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 – caused her to enter the race as a Democrat challenger for the District 1 Assembly seat held by Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) since 2015.

Paplham, 41, officially announced her candidacy late last week, far in advance of the June 3 deadline for state and federal candidates to file nomination papers to get on the ballot. April 15 is the first day candidates can circulate those papers for signatures.

She told the Peninsula Pulse earlier this year that she believes she has much in common with her constituents, and that she believes District 1 – which covers all of Kewaunee and Door counties and a small portion of Brown County – is “ripe for change.”

In addition to issues affecting marginalized people, she said she’s passionate about water quality protection, affordable access to child care, the plight of local businesses facing worker shortages, aging-in-place and mental health.

“Current policies are not efficient to handle most of those issues,” she said.

Paplham launched her campaign with visits to small businesses in Kewaunee and Door counties.

“As a middle-class, working mom, I understand the issues people in my community are facing,” said Paphlam, who has a daughter with her husband. “I’m focused on improving the economic security of working families, women’s rights, and making sure our kids have strong public schools.”

Paplham was born and raised in Kewaunee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with a degree in human development. She currently works as a caregiver to individuals with special needs and as a mediator for the Mediation Center of Greater Green Bay.

All Assembly seats are on the ballot this year and Kitchens announced on the Door County Pulse Podcast in January that he would run for reelection. He has retained the District 1 seat despite being challenged by a Democrat every election since voters first put him in office: by Lynn Utesch in 2016; Roberta Thelen in 2018; Kim Jensen in 2020; and Roberta Thelen again in 2022. He currently chairs the Legislature’s Education Committee, vice-chairs the Committee on Environment, and sits on both the Agriculture and Tourism committees.

The official deadline for state and federal candidates to file their nomination papers is Monday, June 3. The primary election is Aug. 13, the general election Nov. 5. 

Another Republican Candidate Enters Congressional Race

The surprise, early retirement of U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher effective April 19 has lured a third Republican to court voters for Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District seat. 

As reported by the Associated Press and other major media this week, Tom Wied, the owner of a chain of Wisconsin dinosaur-themed gas stations, entered the race April 8 after reportedly receiving the endorsement of Donald Trump over the weekend.

Republican Roger Roth, a former state senator from Appleton, has also announced his candidacy for the seat and was reportedly asked, by Trump, to drop out of the race. No mention was made of the third Republican candidate, Sen. André Jacque (R-De Pere), who currently serves Door County and the rest of Wisconsin Senate District 1.

Dr. Kristin Lyerly, also from De Pere, is the only announced Democratic candidate at this time.