• WisPolitics

Saturday, June 07, 2014

 1:30 PM 

George puts felony behind him, looks forward to Congressional race

Former State Sen. Gary George believes his record of accomplishments in the state Senate – and not his felony conviction in a kickback scheme – is what voters will consider in his run against Gwen Moore for Congress.

The former state senator was ousted from the Legislature in a recall in 2003 and pleaded guilty to a felony in federal court in 2004. He maintains that there were "factual errors and legal errors" in that case and that one of the allegations would not even be considered a crime, given a U.S. Supreme Court ruling since his conviction. However, he acknowledged the conviction and said he's looking forward from now on.

"I'm a lawyer, I'm the son of a lawyer," George said. "We believe in the law, whether you win or you lose. I paid the price. I continue to challenge what happened to me in the legal process as best as that I can continue to do, but this race is not about the past. It's not about my past, it's not about Gwen Moore's past."

George said that he’s running because Milwaukee is in a dire situation and the district needs someone with a record of getting things done while maintaining progressive policy stances. While he didn’t take any direct shots at Moore, he said it is not enough to simply discuss Milwaukee's problems "at a press conference talking about how this is terrible." 

"I think whatever happens in this campaign, Gwen is a historic figure, that's not going to change by this election. But it's a question of who can bring back resources to this community, who can make the changes necessary to make Milwaukee a better place," George said.

He said that he was partially inspired to run for the office after attending the funeral service for former Gov. Patrick Lucey. He said that even though Lucey was "Mr. Democrat," his third party vice presidential run proved he was willing to stand up with others across the aisle to do what was best for the country. George said Lucey and Dem U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan represent the mold of bipartisan progressives he hopes to fill in Congress.

George also highlighted school choice as a prime accomplishment, despite the prevalent opposition in the party to the program's expansion. He said his record as co-chair of Joint Finance Committee also included supporting more money for public schools and class size reduction initiatives hat he said "ushered in a golden age of education in Wisconsin." He chastises those who judge the concept of school choice, though he says there have been "changes" that he doesn't agree with to the choice law he helped write.

"Those that say supporting the choices of the parents whose kids go to charter schools or choice schools is somehow bending public education, that's the wrong way to look at this. We should support education, period," he said.

George said his campaign is just now getting underway, but feels he has "plenty of time" to get his message across and raise the resources to be a viable candidate. As for whether the Government Accountability Board will allow him ballot access given the felony conviction, he said: "That has nothing to do with it. The qualifications for Congress are clear and I meet those qualifications."

 -- By Jason Smathers


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