Main Street Alliance hosts U.S. Senate candidates

The Main Street Alliance, a small business advocacy group, hosted a June 22 roundtable panel featuring candidates for the U.S. Senate who outlined their positions on issues affecting Wisconsin small businesses, including health care, the care economy (child care and paid leave), capital access, tax fairness, and anti-monopoly measures.

Attending the roundtable, held at The Coopers Tavern in Madison, were State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, Steven Olikara, and Kou Lee — all Democrats. Incumbent Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican, and Democratic primary contenders Alex Lasry and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes were not able to take part due to scheduling conflicts.

The Democratic candidates are on the ballot for the Aug. 9 primary election and vying for the right to run against Johnson in the Nov. 8 general election.

A recording of the roundtable, which was co-hosted with the Wisconsin Farmers Union, is available here, but the MSA provided some quick takes on the candidates and their comments during the June 22 roundtable:  

Tom Nelson on health care: 

“To be clear, I oppose a for-profit health system because it doesn’t work. I don’t believe that a system should exist that preys upon the suffering of others. That said, I support the ACA [Affordable Caré Act], I support the enhanced subsidies, and believe that we should expand Badgercare here in Wisconsin.”

Steven Olikara on child care: 

“There is a study from the Kauffman Foundation that shows that over 50% of Americans want to start a business but a small fraction of them actually can, and child care is at the center of one of the biggest barriers to helping people start and run their businesses.”

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski on capital access: 

“When I started my own impact investment firm, we focused on providing access to capital for women and people of color, and that’s what led me to the state treasurer’s office because when I found out the amount of capital that Silicon Valley gets in one day is more than Wisconsin gets in a year — that’s a problem. We need to support our small businesses here. The system is still not fair, and we need to fix it.”

Kou Lee on reining in monopolies:  

“I think about all the little businesses, including restaurants. Two summers ago when JBS was hacked overnight, grocery stores were fighting for chicken, beef, but the shelves were empty. It impacted American families. It wiped the margin for most restaurants. That’s just one example of why we cannot have a monopoly controlling the entire channel.”

While Johnson, Alex Lasry, and Lt. Gov Barnes were not able to participate, Lasry and Barnes are expected to join the MSA at forthcoming events.