Peterson aims to turn 2nd Senate seat to Dems

Retired journalist to go up against Wimberger in November
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

A retired journalist who teaches at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Shawano campus is on a mission to turn the Wisconsin 2nd Senate District blue, and she made stops May 15 in Shawano and Keshena to meet with people with the message that the Democrats will do a better job of looking out for all of Wisconsin than Republicans.

Kelly Peterson, of De Pere, made her apologies to the Shawano County Democrats at the Shawano Civic Center for being tardy, noting her visit to the Menominee Reservation went past its scheduled time.

“I was invited up there, and it was just awesome to be a part of that community,” Peterson said. “It was mainly a meet and greet with the chairwoman, and it was impromptu. We just kind of showed up, and they said, ‘Oh, come in. We’d love to meet you.’ It was a very welcoming experience.”

Peterson is expected to take on Republican Sen. Eric Wimberger, who found himself living in the 2nd District after Wisconsin’s legislative maps were redrawn. Sen. Robert Cowles has been the district’s representative in Madison since 1987, but he has opted not to run.

Peterson teaches the 4X4 program at NWTC, which helps high school students get ahead on college credits, and she noted that she ran into three of her former students while in Keshena. She believes her 30 years of journalism experience will be a benefit during her foray into politics.

“I retired from journalism and saw a lot of things fall like Roe (v. Wade),” Peterson said. “That’s when I started getting together with the local (Democrat Party) chapters in Brown County, Outagamie, Shawano.”

Peterson told the crowd that the 2nd District has the potential for turning blue after she went canvassing door to door and found herself at the home of the Brown County Republicans’ chairman and talking with his wife.

“She looked at me, and she said, ‘Do you have any idea whose house you’re at right now?’ and I said, ‘I have no idea,’” Peterson said. “I said, ‘I’m not here to get your vote. I’m here to get your signature (for the petition),’ and she looked at me, and she looked over my one-sheet again, and she signed it. She looked at me and said, ‘I’m a moderate Republican, too.’ So, I know we can get there.”

Peterson said she wouldn’t have considered running two years ago, enjoying her semi-retirement, but things are different in 2024. She called on the local Democrats to help get out the word.

“The whole reason I’m here tonight is because of you and this district and the community of Wisconsin,” Peterson said. “I’m not doing this for the sole purpose of myself, but I can’t do this alone.”