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Wisconsin Democratic lieutenant governor candidates talk abortion, same-sex marriage during debate

Democratic lieutenant governor candidates Peng Her (left) and Sara Rodriguez share the stage during a debate Wednesday afternoon.
Elora Hennessey
UWM Photo Services
Democratic lieutenant governor candidates Peng Her (left) and Sara Rodriguez share the stage during a debate Wednesday afternoon.

The two Democratic candidates campaigning for lieutenant governor took to the stage Wednesday at UW-Milwaukee’s theater building. They shared their thoughts on topics like abortion and election fraud.

During an hour-long debate, Sara Rodriguez and Peng Her answered questions about the 2020 election, same-sex marriage and more. First, the candidates were asked a series of questions about abortion.

Rodriquez is a state assembly representative from Brookfield. She is also a mother and health care professional who said the 1849 state law that has halted abortions in Wisconsin is antiquated.

"I co-authored the legislation to have pro-choice legislation here in Wisconsin," Rodriguez said. "I was in my seat ready to overturn that 1849 law when Gov. Evers called that special session, and the Republicans gaveled us out in less than a minute. Abortion is health care. I want to be clear that I will fight like hell to make sure that every woman will have a right to choose, regardless of the politicians."

Her said his two daughters became second class citizens after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"They lost the right to make decisions for their own body," said Her. "I now live in a world where my children have less rights than I have had. That's saying a lot for someone who fled genocide. I'm pro-choice, and it's strong support for a woman's right to choose reproductive health. I'm going to fight every day to make sure that we give that right back to our daughters."

A Marquette Law School Poll revealed that 32% of Wisconsinites believe votes in the 2020 election were not counted accurately. Her left Laos to live in the United States at age 5. He said that claims of election fraud are being used to divide people.

"Well, I firmly believe that our elections are safe and secure," said Her. "I come from a country where it wasn't. I could clearly tell you it is here in Wisconsin as well as in United States. Elections are one of those things that Republicans try to put a wedge between us and try to divide us. Let’s call that out for what it is because our elections were not stolen, and they are safe and secure. They will always be and have always been."

Rodriguez said election officials are working hard to ensure elections are safe and fair while Republicans are trying to ban absentee ballot boxes, making it difficult for people with disabilities to vote. Then, she commented on how taxpayer dollars are funding the investigation by former state supreme court justice Michael Gableman.

>> Republican-hired Gableman's Wisconsin election report heavily criticized

"We are spending over a million dollars in taxpayer money for the Gableman investigation that is still ongoing," Rodriguez said. "That's your taxpayer dollars that are coming out of your pocket. The Republicans are supporting a disgraced former justice who was peddling lies and conspiracy theories and suggesting unconstitutional interventions that even Robin Vos knows are unconstitutional, yet he continues to support this ridiculous investigation and waste taxpayer dollars."

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to protect same-sex marriage. Candidates were asked how they’d block potential efforts from Republicans to put same-sex marriage laws in the hands of state government. Rodriguez said politicians should acknowledge what voters want.

"I would put nothing past the Republican led legislature in what they do because they aren't listening to their constituents," she said. "They aren't listening to what the majority of Wisconsinites want. The majority of Wisconsinites have no problem with same-sex marriage, and in fact, support it."

"That includes Republicans and independents," she added. "This is why we need to make sure that Gov. Evers is reelected because it can affect our day-to-day lives. "We need to have somebody who has a strong network across the state so we can ensure that the Republicans do not have a supermajority in the assembly and the senate and cannot overturn any of Gov. Evers vetoes."

Her said he listened to what voters had to say during a visit to the Kenosha Pride Festival.

"They shared with me personally about the importance of having a seat at the table, as well as having a voice," he said. They talked about how it's so important to protect their rights. I just want to let folks know that, especially the LGBTQ community, as well as those of the same sex, that here in Wisconsin, you're welcome, you're valued, and you will always have a seat at my table."

The eight Republican candidates vying for the lieutenant governor spot will take the stage Thursday at 1 p.m.

Eddie is a WUWM news reporter.
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