Which candidates support bringing our war dollars home?

Of the candidates appearing on ballots across Wisconsin, who is willing to call out runaway war and weapons spending?

To find out, the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice (WNPJ), a coalition of 166 member organizations from across the state, conducted a one-question survey of state candidates.  WNPJ is a non-partisan, non-profit organization and does not endorse candidates.

Please see below for the responses we received from candidates running for U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, State Senate and State Assembly, to our "war dollars home" survey question. 

We asked candidates for state office:

The Pentagon budget, plus military-related intelligence, homeland security and nuclear programs; veterans' affairs; and defense-related interest on the national debt account for nearly one-quarter of the entire federal budget or more than half of discretionary spending, at $832 billion (for fiscal year 2012).

The United States spends more on war and weaponry than all of our potential adversaries combined. In fact, U.S. military spending could be cut by 80 percent and still remain the largest military budget in the world. Moreover, U.S. military spending has nearly doubled since 2001, both in real dollars and as a percentage of federal discretionary spending.

Do you support redirecting some portion of the U.S. military budget to meet domestic needs, such as education, housing, healthcare, programs supporting veterans and their families, public and private sector job creation, infrastructure, and environmental protection?

Click here to see our 2010 candidate survey on five issues.


Office Name Candidate Name Candidate Party City Response Remarks
U.S. Senate Joseph Kexel Libertarian Kenosha No

I will agree with your initial assessment of our military spending and I fully support reducing our military down to a defensive force. I do want peace and open trade with all nations. However, I do not support redirecting funds to those areas listed. The money saved needs to be used to reduce our deficit.
     We need a strong economy more than ever and having our government consuming so much of the economy destroys the private sector where we desperately need growth. The deficit uses capital which needs to be available to business. We need to cut many more programs in order to get the budget and thus our government under control. The federal government is far too large and we must change that immediately.
     Everything you would like to see improved will only happen once we have a booming economy which our massive deficit prevents from occurring. The deficit along with the federal debt ($16T) and our unfunded liabilities ($120T) makes most businesses, including mine, very nervous. I cannot see how our nation can continue along this course. The saddest part is when we do hit the wall and everything collapses all those you wish to help will have even less available to help them. Those who would have been employed and able to help them will join them on the bottom. Also, without a prosperous private sector there will the no funds for the government.
    I understand the concerns about spending at home, but we must find what is truly needed and leave the rest to the free market.

Congress - 1st district Rob Zerban Democratic Kenosha Yes  
Congress - 5th district Dave Heaster Democratic Sussex Yes We currently spend more than any other nation - in fact we spend more than the 10 next largest military spenders COMBINED.  That's a lot of Horses and Bayonets.  We should continue to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and get our troop levels down to pre-war levels - enough to maintain a presence. Personally I don't think that any resource (Oil) or ideology is worth even ONE american life.  Those war hawks who like to start conflicts should ask themselves: "What if it were my kid - my wife or husband?"  
     The money saved could then go to other programs.  For me the most important would be Education.  The best way to invest in a secure and prosperous future is through Education.  We need to make STEM a key part of our educational system.  We need to make sure that education is affordable, cutting edge and high quality.  Our teachers must be treated with the utmost of respect.  We need to pay them more and give them better benefits in order to attract and retain them.  If we can do this right, most of the other problems will be solved in the process.
     In short - we need to take care of our own.  That includes our environment.  I would oppose any roll-back of regulations that protect the quality and viability of our most precious of resources - Mother Earth.  How else can America be the "Hope of the Earth" if we don't treat the Earth with respect?
Congress - 6th district Joe Kallas Democratic Princeton Yes We have over 700 bases world wide. Many of these could be closed. Yes, the defense budget is very bloated. We have added to costs by hiring private companies to provide services that soldiers used to do. Plus, we pay private security thousands more than we would pay our own special forces for protecting our leaders. We should work very hard to prevent future wars, not spending millions to prepare for them.
State Senate - district 12 Paul Ehlers Libertarian Rhinelander Yes Military spending is half of our budget;  but we spend as much money that is unbudgeted--mostly for the military.  I would close the overseas bases, bring home the troops, and watch the U.S. prosper.  The short answer is "yes."
State Senate - district 14 Margarete Worthington Democratic Wautoma Yes To be clear: I am running for Wisconsin State Senate so the office I am seeking to hold has no control over the federal budget. I am an Army brat, born and bred and my immediate family has 85 years of military service. I’ve talked about this issue with members of my family who have served in the military and we agreed that our country could redirect some portion of the Pentagon’s budget to domestic spending and STILL be able to keep our country safe and support our active, non-active and retired members of the military and their families.
State Senate - district 26 Fred A. Risser Democratic Madison Yes  
State Senate - district 28 Jim Ward Democratic Greendale Yes  
Assembly - district 4 Michael J. Malcheski Democratic De Pere Yes Yes, stop the military expansion
Assembly - district 11 Mandela Barnes Democratic Milwaukee Yes  
Assembly - district 13 John Pokrandt Democratic Wauwatosa Yes  
Assembly - district 15 Cindy Moore Democratic New Berlin Yes  
Assembly - district 32 David Stolow Libertarian Lake Geneva No I support lowering all spending and in turn tax rates and not simply redirecting tax dollars. We spend way too much money policing the world. Its been 50 years since the Korean war ended yet we still have troops there, for instance. We nation build abroad yet don't invest similarly at home. We also need to stop fighting endless wars that accomplish little other than costing the lives of our young servicemen and woman. We also spend too much domestically. Our entitlement programs waste taxpayer money via graft and corruption. They are also monopolies and as such, Government run programs can not be cost effective solutions to everyday problems.
Assembly - district 34 Merlin Van Buren Democratic Rhinelander Yes  
Assembly - district 41 Melissa Sorenson Democratic Berlin Yes  
Assembly - district 48 Terry R. Gray Libertarian Madison Yes I would support a drastic cut in military spending.
Assembly - district 50 Ben Olson III Libertarian Wisconsin Dells Yes This is a trick question because if the money wasn't spent on military, it wouldn't be there for any other purpose. It's all borrowed or printed to begin with so a "peace dividend" most likely would not occur. I do agree with your basic goals, though, of slashing military spending, bringing troops back home, shutting down bases around the world and creating a foreign policy that encourages diplomacy and free trade amongst nations. Keep up the good work and don't ever naively believe our federal government will do the right things for the right reasons.
Assembly - district 51 Maureen May-Grimm Democratic Mineral Point Yes While I do support this, I don't believe my role as a State Representative would have the ability to impact this policy.
Assembly - district 52 Paul Czisny Democratic Fond du Lac Yes  
Assembly - district 76 Chris Taylor Democratic Madison Yes Yes, I would support redirecting some of our military spending to domestic programs such as access to health care, poverty reduction, affordable housing and investing in public education.  It is absolutely unconscionable that in this country we have children and families who go hungry and homeless.   Thank you for the important question.
Assembly - district 77 Terese Berceau Democratic Madison Yes I do not support, however, cuts to services for our veterans. Many services to them are already underfunded, and they deserve our support for fighting our wars.
Assembly - district 87 Elizabeth Riley Democratic Hayward Yes I believe that we need to rearrange our priorities. We simply do not need to spend so much of our limited resources on defense. There is also a huge amount of waste in defense spending. We need better oversight of how money is being spent, as well as putting some limits on the amount spent.
Assembly - district 90 Eric Genrich Democratic Green Bay Yes  
Assembly - district 91 Dana Wachs Democratic Eau Claire Yes  
Assembly - district 97 Marga Krumins Democratic Waukesha Yes A good portion of our military budget, even if one assumes we need the same military ability as we currently have, is spent on systems that are becoming obsolete, are not needed, are tuned to the types of actions we are not likely to be involved in. All of that money can be re-purposed to provide true security; the kind of security that allows us to live our lives without fear of the future and what it holds for us.
Assembly - district 98 Eric Prudent Democratic Waukesha Yes The United States spends more on its military budget than the next highest 16 countries combined, and we spend more than double the average percentage of GDP on military spending. This has been out of control for a long time now. We fund wars in the Middle East but we allot no funding to take care of our veterans and their families when they come home.
     We can cut our military spending in half and still spend well over double what China spends on theirs. By cutting military spending, we are not risking our place as the world's military superpower.
     So many programs go unfunded in the United States. So many people are homeless and/or without work. So many families struggle to pay the bills. Our public education system gets cut year after year and middle class families and students are left paying the bill. This is not how a world power should be, and this is not what America should be. There is no use in fighting foreign wars if we can't take care of American families. By cutting even a few percentage points from our military spending, we can revamp our public education, reinvest in our infrastructure, invest in renewable energies to lead us down a road to energy independence, provide healthcare for all Americans, and so much more.
     While there is always more to discuss on the matter, I will leave it at that for now. I'm not looking to dismantle the military. I'm looking to make small strategic cutbacks on what is clearly unnecessary spending so we can stop fighting wars across the globe and take care of American citizens. Sadly, neither candidate for president seems the least bit interested in this. While many fail to realize what we are losing out on, I simply cannot.