Scott Allen, the winner of the state Assembly District 97 Republican primary last week, said he was inspired by a key election moment in 2010.
He was at Scott Walker's victory speech four years ago at the Country Springs Hotel in Waukesha. Walker had just clinched a win over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to become Wisconsin's new governor.
"For the first time in 10, 15 years, I was confident in the direction Wisconsin was going, and (Walker) offered a glimmer of hope of finally focusing on getting things done," Allen said. "So I said at the time that I need to get back involved.
"I didn't know in what way but knew that I couldn't just keep talking about it and had to start walking the walk."
Allen will likely soon be walking into the state assembly. With no Democratic challenger in November, Allen has essentially already clinched the seat following his victory, with 34 percent of the vote, over five other candidates.
The Shorewest Realtors sales director will replace Rep. Bill Kramer, R-Town of Waukesha, who did not seek re-election amid sexual assault charges.
"My message from the start has been to keep Wisconsin open for business," Allen said. "I support Governor Walker's agenda about being business friendly. We expanded on that message during my campaign and that resonated with the voters."
Gaining the vote
Allen separated himself from the pack to win the primary over Humana consultant Brandon Rosner, who finished with 29 percent of the vote.
The other four candidates were far behind.
Waukesha alderwoman and county board supervisor Kathleen Cummings finished third with 13 percent of the vote, GOP activist Vince Trovato was fourth at 12 percent, Waukesha alderman Aaron Perry finished fifth with 7 percent and former Town of Waukesha supervisor Joe Banske was sixth at 5 percent.
Allen will be representing an assembly district that includes the southern half of the city of Waukesha, the southwestern portion of the town of Waukesha, the southeastern portion of the town of Genesee and the northeastern portion of the town of Mukwonago.
As he was watching the election results come in, Allen said it was unfolding as expected.
"I felt very confident based on the conversations that I previously had with voters," Allen said.
Besides his business background and work in the public sector, Allen said his connection to the entire district was a key component in emerging from the crowded field.
A Kettle Moraine High School graduate, he previously lived in the town of Mukwonago and now lives in the town of Waukesha. He also lived in the city of Waukesha, where he served as an alderman.
Taking other's districts
His broad base was evident in vote totals from different jurisdictions.
Allen easily won the town of Mukwonago, taking 43 percent of the vote. Rosner was his closest challenger at 25 percent in Mukwonago.
In the city of Waukesha, Allen took 16 of the 24 wards and tied Rosner in another. (Rosner won five wards in the city of Waukesha, while Cummings took one and Trovato one.)
While Allen did well in his former places of residence, others didn't fare as well close to home.
Cummings finished a distant third in her aldermanic district on the city's east and southeast side. Allen, who previously represented constituents in that district as an alderman from 1998-2001, was the top vote-getter there.
Perry was also third in his southwest aldermanic district, which Allen, who lives right outside the district on Dale Drive, also gained the most votes last week.
Banske, a former town of Waukesha supervisor who was just voted out this spring, finished third in the town. Allen edged out Rosner in the town of Waukesha by seven votes.
“I did my best to talk to everyone,” Allen said. “I really didn’t slice and dice the district to say, ‘I need to win this ward or that one.’ It took all of the wards (to win).”
His plan in Madison
Allen said his goal in the state assembly is to "foster intergovernmental cooperation" between municipalities and to keep Wisconsin an attractive place for business growth.
He credits Waukesha County for working with Milwaukee on an upcoming joint recycling effort that is expected to save the county nearly $1.9 million over seven years.
Allen said he doesn't have a specific program in mind or how he can require such cooperation. But he wants all cities, including Waukesha and those in the district, to look for ways to deliver services at a lower cost.
"Being in a leadership role, I want to foster that," Allen said. "Somehow we need to explore and make that happen."
Allen also said on the campaign trail he heard stories about the struggle for young and old to obtain jobs and those in their field of study. Seeing young local professionals move out of state because they can't find work here is "unacceptable," he said.