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Congress hopeful shakes hands in Shawano

Democrat Nelson visits downtown businesses
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Leader Photo by Scott Williams Congressional candidate Tom Nelson, center, stops on Main Street in downtown Shawano to talk with Debbie Cotter, right, and her granddaughter, Emma Sorenson.

Leader Photo by Scott Williams Congressional candidate Tom Nelson, standing, talks with Angie’s Main Cafe customers, from left, Nancy Hundt, Karen Grady and Jan Doerr.

Declaring himself an independent-minded leader ready to tackle Washington, congressional hopeful Tom Nelson brought his campaign to downtown Shawano this week.

The Democrat from Appleton visited downtown businesses and greeted shoppers Tuesday in his bid to represent Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District.

Nelson, who serves as Outagamie County executive, is running against Mike Gallagher, the nominee in a Republican primary held last week.

The winner in the Nov. 8 election will succeed U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, who is stepping down in a district that covers Shawano County, as well as Menominee County, Oconto County and other areas of Northeastern Wisconsin.

Gallagher has visited the Shawano area, too, and both candidates are planning to campaign at the Shawano County Fair, which runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 5.

During his visit Tuesday, Nelson said he has a track record of working with both political parties, and he noted that the 8th Congressional District has demonstrated an independent streak over the years. Before the current Republican incumbent, the district was represented by Democrat Steve Kagen.

“The people in this district take their politics very, very seriously,” he said. “They don’t look at the party — they look at the candidates.”

On issues, Nelson said he wants to go to Washington to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which he sees as a threat to job creation and economic growth in Wisconsin. The trade agreement proposed by the Obama administration requires congressional ratification.

“History has shown us that these deals are bad news for Wisconsin workers,” he said.

Gallagher’s campaign issued a statement indicating that the Republican candidate also opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal as anti-business.

“This is the same snake oil career politicians have been selling us for decades,” Gallagher said, “and the results are always the same: Our businesses become uncompetitive and hard-working Wisconsin families fall farther behind.”

Nelson said his background as a county executive and former state lawmaker give him the skills to effect change in the federal government on behalf of Shawano and the rest of the district.

“I’m committed to this community,” he said.

Jeff Gillis, a resident of the town of Richmond, accompanied Nelson as a campaign volunteer during his visit to downtown businesses.

Gillis said he has known Nelson since 2008 and is backing him to become the area’s next congressman.

“I still believe that hard work matters,” Gillis said. “Anybody who’s worked as hard as Tom deserves an opportunity to represent the people he’s worked so hard to represent.”