MADISON — Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus took himself out of consideration Thursday as a candidate to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan, as other Wisconsin Republicans contemplated whether to join the fray.
Ryan abruptly announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in November. Priebus was one of several Republicans from the Wisconsin 1st Congressional District floated as a possible candidate. The deadline for candidates to file is June 1, just seven weeks away.
On the Democratic side, state Rep. Peter Barca, whose Assembly district includes part of Racine County, said Thursday he’s considering joining a field which already includes ironworker Randy Bryce and teacher Cathy Myers. Another potential Republican candidate, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, said he intended to decide by Friday.
“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Vos said. “Paul Ryan was there for 20 years, you have to think about that.”
Priebus, a graduate of Kenosha Tremper High School and a former Wisconsin party chairman who now resides near Washington, D.C., categorically ruled out a run.
“I’m always interested in serving but the timing for me couldn’t be worse,” Priebus said on “The Jay Weber Show.” “It’s been a massive run politically, but the cost is, of course, you just haven’t been around.”
Priebus was a mainstay in Wisconsin politics for years, running unsuccessfully for state Senate in 2004 and ascending to be state Republican Party chairman in 2007. After overseeing a Republican sweep in the 2010 election — when Scott Walker was first elected governor — Priebus became chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2011, a post he held until he took over as White House chief of staff in January.
He left that role in July and returned to work for his previous law firm.
“Being a little separated from the daily political grind has been unbelievable,” Priebus said. “I’ve got to concentrate on my career, building a retirement, all the things that most people listening to this have been doing for 20 or 30 years.”
Priebus, Ryan and Walker formed a Wisconsin-centered political powerhouse that included a Walker run for president, Ryan’s ascendancy as speaker and Priebus’ rise to work in the White House. Priebus has now returned to the private sector, Ryan is about to join him and Walker must win re-election in November to stay in office.
Other Republicans considering a run in Ryan’s district in addition to Vos include: state Reps. Samantha Kerkman and Amy Loudenbeck; state Sen. David Craig, a former Ryan aide; and longtime Ryan friend Bryan Steil, an attorney and University of Wisconsin Board of Regents member.
Vos said he had not yet made up his mind.
“I have a really good job where we can get a lot of things done versus being a congressman and being there for 20 years,” Vos said.
Another state lawmaker who had been considering getting in, Rep. Tyler August, announced he would not run and instead seek re-election to the Assembly.
The only declared Republicans so far are Paul Nehlen, who was banned from Twitter earlier this year for a series of posts criticized as racist or anti-Semitic, and Nick Polce, an Army veteran who also co-owns a security consulting firm. Ryan’s political director Kevin Seifert said Nehlen is not qualified to serve in public office.
Bryce, a union ironworker who goes by the nickname “Iron Stache,” and Myers, a teacher from Janesville, are running on the Democratic side. Bryce raised $2.1 million in the first three months of the year and Myers raised $500,000. Bryce has raised $4.75 million to date compared with $800,000 for Myers.
Barca, a Kenosha Democrat, represents the 64th Assembly District, which includes most of Kenosha along with parts of Racine, Somers, Mount Pleasant and Elmwood Park.
Barca said he has received encouragement from constituents to consider running for Ryan’s seat.
Barca served as the Assembly’s Democratic leader for seven years until he resigned the post in 2017. He also represented the 1st Congressional District after winning a special election in 1993. Barca served in the state Legislature from 1985 until 1993, then returned to the state house in 2009, according to his biography.
RACINE — O&H Danish Bakery is accused of monopolizing the kringle business in a lawsuit filed by an Elkhorn-based company.
Wisconsin Kringle Co. made the accusations in a counterclaim to a lawsuit it faces from O&H. In a complaint filed in February, O&H alleged that Wisconsin Kringle Co.’s name violates the trademark O&H holds on one of its most popular kringle flavors. Wisconsin Kringle Co. fired back in late March, arguing that O&H, based in Mount Pleasant, is acting as a monopoly power in the kringle market and is limiting the competition from other manufacturers.
The complaint accuses O&H of threatening to remove its product from the retail locations of the Willkomm Companies if it wouldn’t cease doing business with Wisconsin Kringle Co., whose registered agent is Val Secor. Willkomm complied “as a result of the threats,” the suit alleges, and canceled a kringle order from Wisconsin Kringle Co.
That development cost Wisconsin Kringle Co. a contract and the loss of anticipated future income through sales to Willkomm, according to the complaint.
“O&H Danish Bakery, Inc. has no privilege to interfere with the contractual rights of Wisconsin Kringle Company,” the filing states.
The suit claims Secor suffered $160,000 in damages. He has requested a judge dismiss O&H’s complaint against him and his business, and that the court award him any other relief it deems just.
Secor and Wisconsin Kringle Co. are represented in the case by Thomas M. Devine of Devine Hahn.
The original complaints in the dispute were filed by O&H, who claimed Secor used knowledge not generally available to the public that he obtained through managing an Oak Creek restaurant called The Dish, which sells O&H products. The local bakery alleged Secor learned its marketing strategies and sales information through the job, including the popularity of the Wisconsin Kringle.
O&H created that product in 2013 after the state designated the kringle as its official state pastry. The Wisconsin Kringle features flavors associated with state, such as cheese, cherries and cranberries.
The company accused Secor of naming his own business to “capitalize on the efforts O&H has undertaken to promote its ‘Wisconsin Kringle’ brand by appropriating the trade name ‘Wisconsin Kringle’ as part of his company name.”
The similarly named but unrelated product and company are causing confusion among customers, the bakery claimed. O&H argues it has suffered damage and expects that will continue in the form of: lost sales, dilution of the value of its trademark and decreased effectiveness of its advertising and promotional efforts.
The company asked a judge to enjoin Wisconsin Kringle Co. from using a name “substantially identical” to the name of its trademarked product, plus award the company an unspecified amount in damages.
Secor declined to comment on the dispute Thursday.
Representatives of O&H did not respond to a request for comment, nor did its attorney, Christopher J. Conrad of DeMark, Kolbe & Brodek.
The lawsuit is at least the second between kringle manufacturers to originate from the area.
In 2002, RDK Corp. filed a federal case against West Racine-based Larsen Bakery that alleged the latter business’ use of the website domain name racinekringle.com was too similar to the trademarked name of “Racine Danish Kringles.”
The parties in that case settled, and the case was dismissed in 2006, The Journal Times reported.