GOP primary to find Wirch foe pits former sheriff vs. attorney

    The 22nd Senate District GOP primary pits a 70-year-old political vet and former sheriff operating an all-volunteer effort against a 37-year-old political newcomer with a more modern campaign operation who’s battling the vet’s name recognition.
    The winner of the July 19 primary will take on Kenosha-area Dem Sen. Bob Wirch in an Aug. 16 recall election. Fred Ekornaas, of Bristol, has been on the Kenosha County board since 2002 and now serves as vice chair. But he’s probably better known for his two terms as Kenosha County sheriff in the 1980s and says people still recognize him from those days.
    His political experience has given him valuable name recognition that he says is an advantage over his opponent, Jonathan Steitz of Pleasant Prairie, an attorney who handles transactions in capital markets.
    “He’s got a hill to climb, and I’m already on top of that hill; so he’s got to get to the top of it and kind of knock me off,” Ekornaas said.  “That’s the way it is in these things. Name recognition is important. There’s no way of getting away from that.”
    Steitz, however, said he’s made headway in that department and noted differing responses to him at parades on Memorial Day compared to July 4th. Steitz attributes some of that success to assembling a campaign team early on, which includes paid staff, college interns and volunteers.
    “We’ve got a great ground plan in place,” Steitz said. “We’ve been able to accomplish a lot really efficiently, both time wise and financially.”

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