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Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidates echo activists' concerns about overturning of abortion rights

People with megaphones.
Chuck Quirmbach
Speakers lead chants supporting abortion rights at a Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin rally Friday afternoon at Humboldt Park in Milwaukee.

Seven of the eight Democrats running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin mentioned the controversial new court decision on abortion Sunday as the candidates try to spell out their differences in the crowded primary.

The contenders spoke at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Convention in LaCrosse, WI an event live streamed by

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State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski speaks to the state Democratic Convention Sunday.

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski is the only woman in the Democratic Senate primary, which will produce a winner on Aug. 9 to take on incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson this fall. Johnson supports last Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning abortion rights protections set by the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Godlewski said in the last 49 years the Senate should have codified Roe into the legal code.

"Quite frankly, if we had more Democratic women at that U.S. Senate table, we would have gotten this done a long time ago!" Godlewski exclaimed to cheers.

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Alex Lasry speaks at the Democratic Convention.

Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry thanked his wife, Lauren.

"[Lauren] who is chief of staff at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, and all of her colleagues, for their tireless work on the front lines. They're doing their part, and it's time we do ours," Lasry said.

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Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson speaks at the convention on Sunday.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson says he's the only one running for Senate with a plan to make a major change in the Supreme Court.

"And after Friday's abomination of a decision sending women back to the Dark Ages, I'm proud to be the only candidate who has said we need to expand the Supreme Court," Nelson said to cheers.

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Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes speaks Sunday.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes linked last Friday's decision to other challenges the U.S. faces.

"As I look around, I see times getting harder for folks. We just saw Roe v. Wade being overturned, turning back 50 years of precedent. Voting rights are being stripped away across this country, state-by-state," Barnes said.

Barnes leads Lasry by a small margin in the latest Marquette University poll in the Senate race, with Godlewski and Nelson more than 10 points back.

The other four Democrats running for Senate are polling at 1% or less. But they also spoke in LaCrosse, WI.

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Milwaukee attorney Peter Peckarsky addresses the convention.

Milwaukee attorney Peter Peckarsky said five of the Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade were appointed by presidents, whose victories he said, were outside the margin of error of exit polls. George W. Bush was one of the Presidents, and Peckarsky handed out a graph showing Donald Trump as the other.

"It shows Trump [in 2016] with 44.3% of the vote in the unadjusted exit poll, and 47.2% when the computers finished counting," Peckarsky said.

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Steven Olikara speaks at the convention.

Businessperson Steven Olikara said getting big money out of politics is a way to get presidents and members of Congress back to serving the public. "It is the issue at play when you see politicians profit on dehumanizing women."

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Darrell Williams makes a point during his remarks.

Darrell Williams, who is on leave from being administrator of the state office of Emergency Management, called for more people to vote for candidates that support abortion rights.

"I have a daughter. I have a wife. I have a mother and I believe in a women's right to choose," Williams said.

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Kou Lee speaks Sunday.

The eighth Democrat running for Senate, business owner Kou Lee, did not mention abortion Sunday. But the native of Laos said he worries the U.S. is losing some civil liberties and freedom.

Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018. He focuses his longform stories on health, innovation, science, technology, transportation, utilities and business.
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