Bice: Democrat businessman Andy Gronik polls on run for Wisconsin governor

Bice: Democrat businessman Andy Gronik polls on run for Wisconsin governor
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Dan Bice
April 19, 2017

So sparse is the field of possible Democratic challengers to Gov. Scott Walker next year that this is garnering attention in political circles:
Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik — a political neophyte with no statewide name recognition — recently paid for a lengthy poll to help him decide whether to take on the Republican governor in his 2018 re-election bid.

Two individuals contacted by the pollster earlier this month said they were asked to compare Gronik with two other Democrats, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, who bowed out of the race this week. The poll did not ask about state Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire or Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, two other Dems who might run.

Gronik’s poll also asked a number of questions about Act 10, the Republican governor’s signature piece of legislation that curtailed collective bargaining for most public employees, and Wisconsin’s private school voucher program.

Gronik confirmed that he personally funded the poll but declined to discuss its scope, cost or results. The two people who participated in the survey said it was conducted by an out-of-state firm that referred to state residents as “Wisconsinians,” not Wisconsinites.

“I did the poll for my own purposes to take a very strategic and careful look at Wisconsin,” he said. “So I don’t really want to get into the details of the poll.”

Gronik, 59, is the founder and president of GroBiz, a company that advises businesses, and Stage W, a nonprofit group aimed at getting past political divisiveness.

Think of him as Mary Burke 2.0, but with less public service experience.

In the poll, the two respondents said, people are asked to offer their opinions on the need for a candidate who has business experience and is a political outsider who is in touch with the needs of the middle class.

Both individuals surveyed came away from the poll believing Gronik was opposed to repealing Act 10, something that is favored by many Democrats. But he declined to state his position on that or school choice, which is strongly opposed by state teachers unions.

“Act 10 is an incredibly important issue that was made that affected lots and lots of people in our state,” Gronik said. “Therefore, to do any kind of polling and to not examine Act 10 would be leaving a big part and an important part of what is going on in Wisconsin out.”

The survey also asked about raising taxes to pay for pre-kindergarten programs and creating public-private partnerships.

Gronik said he hopes to make an announcement soon on the race.

“I am a strategic individual. I want to be careful in terms of understanding where we are as a state,” Gronik said. “I’m looking at team-building both nationally and in-state. I want to understand the path to victory — what that looks like. So I’m doing everything I told people I was going to do.”

Democrats who have ruled themselves out of next year’s gubernatorial race include former state Sen. Tim Cullen, businessman Mark Bakken, Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling and U.S. Rep. Ron Kind. Ex-Green Bay Packers lineman Mark Tauscher also rejected an effort to draft him to run.

Read the story online here.