By Benjamin Yount for the Center Square

Democrats in the Wisconsin Capitol continue to cry foul over the raw politics involved in the decision to not confirm Gov. Tony Evers’ pick for secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DACTP). 

Several Democratic lawmakers, and even Evers himself, released statements decrying the political motivations behind the vote against Brad Pfaff. 

“It was apparently more important for Republicans to serve up political retribution because Brad had the courage and the audacity to scold them for playing politics with farmers’ mental health during this dairy crisis,” Evers said in a statement. 

The governor re-issued his line that the vote against Pfaff was “political b.s.”

Evers isn’t the only Democratic lawmaker focused on the politics of the vote. 

“One of Wisconsin’s largest and most important industries is in crisis, and we need a leader with the experience and qualifications to lead DATCP and help farmers. Brad Pfaff has the know-how and commitment to Wisconsin’s farms that we need,” state Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, said in her post-vote statement. “Yet Senate Republicans have turned this into a partisan fight.”

State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, amped up the political charges. 

“Brad Pfaff’s great sin was speaking the uncomfortable truth to Republicans in power,” Larson said. “The message sent by Senate Republicans is chilling: dissent won’t be allowed.”

Republicans soured on Pfaff after he was named acting secretary for DATCP in February. One of the biggest points of contention was a spat over $200,000 in rural suicide prevention money. There was also some dislike among Republicans regarding DATCP plans to change the rules for livestock operators in Wisconsin that would grant government more power to regulate farm smells and farm expansion.

That, state Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said is why Pfaff no longer has a job in the Evers administration. 

“Mr. Pfaff has been more than willing to side with bureaucrats on the isthmus of Madison against the interests of Wisconsin’s $104 billion agriculture industry,” Nass said. “He had plenty of time to advocate for farmers, but at almost every instance he sided with the anti-farming policies being advanced by the extremists calling Wisconsin farmers polluters.”

Republicans in the state Senate made it clear in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s vote that there was not enough support for Pfaff. Evers didn’t say why he pushed for a vote anyway. 

Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.

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