GOP Senate candidates debate

KENOSHA, Wis. – Four Republicans seeking to unseat Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in November’s election tried to distinguish themselves from each other in Thursday’s forum.

Russ Darrow, Robert Gerald Lorge, Tim Michels and state Sen. Bob Welch answered questions from an audience of about 50 people at a forum sponsored by Citizens for a Sound Economy.

Lorge, a Bear Creek attorney, said the United States is in a “crisis mode” and involved in three wars: the war on terrorism, an undeclared trade war and a “culture war.”

“There are socialists in America,” said Lorge, who advocated the decentralization of government control. “They’re alive and well and they’re a danger to us, and they’re in the Democratic Party.”

Michels touted his background as a small business executive in his family’s Brownsville construction firm. He said tax cuts are important in building a strong economy.

Darrow, a West Bend auto dealer, said he agrees with pro-life, pro-gun principles. He dubbed himself “the right Russ” and said Americans should have more health care choices.

Welch, a veteran state senator from Redgranite, said he would work to end what he sees as major threats to the American dream – higher taxes and red tape.

“I’ve been through cutting taxes,” he said. “I’ve been through taking on the bureaucrats to cut taxes and red tape.”

Welch lost a bid for the U.S. Senate to Democrat Herb Kohl in 1994.

The GOP primary is in September.