CEDARBURG, Wis. (SPECTRUM NEWS) – A former George W. Bush campaign aide makes a stop in Wisconsin to push for election reform.
John Pudner has managed political campaigns for almost 30 years, including Bush's faith-based outreach during his 2000 campaign. Now, Pudner is the executive director of Take Back Our Republic.
Pudner says he wants to start a conversation about election reform because even though Democrats and Republicans disagree about a lot of things, it is an area where they can find common ground.
Pudner can sum up what he is pushing for with one word: transparency.
“Don't make people look,” Pudner said. “The voter can make their own decision about these things, but at least be transparent. We think the voters have the right to know.”
Pudner would like to see more money going directly to candidates, disclosure verification, and even a tax credit for campaign contributions as a way to reengage voters.
“I think there was a mistake after Citizens United where a lot of conservatives felt like that's in our advantage,” Pudner said. “Even if it's a bad rule, having all of this secret money flying around helps Republicans more than Democrats, and I'd argue that's not the case anymore.”
A group trying to bridge the partisan divide called Unite America hosted Pudner at Cedarburg City Hall Monday night.
Rich Eng is a conservative and leads a local chapter of the organization.
Even though Republicans control the Senate and Assembly in Wisconsin, Eng says it is time to reform the way electoral maps are drawn.
“If there's a Blue Wave, what would you want?” Eng said. “Would you want to be stiffed and would you want your districts manipulated so that the Democratic incumbents would stay in power in an unfair fashion? Probably not.”
Other members of the group like Susan Olson say extreme politics, no matter the side, does not represent a lot of voters across the state.
“Many of us in the middle, the Independents, the centrists Democrats, the centrist Republicans, we all sit in this majority middle and we hardly ever get our voices heard,” Olson said.
Pudner says with Wisconsin being a swing state, it makes it an important place to start a conversation.
“People are very much wearing a jersey in the state, on one side or the other. And we want to get a dialogue going and realize there really is some agreement around reform issues, even though there are other issues that of course, liberals and conservatives will clash on, but we think there is some common ground on this issue.”