Tom Nelson
Tom Nelson

KAUKAUNA — Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson is expected to announce today that he is running for Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District seat. The seat will be open following the retirement of Republican Rep. Reid Ribble.

Nelson will be the first Democrat to to announce a run for the seat. State Sen. Frank Lasee of De Pere, Mike Gallagher and Terry McNulty are running as Republicans.

Nelson has launched a campaign website, NelsonForWisconsin.com.

A Little Chute High School graduate, Nelson first was elected to the state Assembly in 2004 and went on to serve as majority leader when Democrats last controlled the Assembly.

In 2010, Nelson won his party’s nomination for lieutenant governor, beating a crowded field with over fifty percent of the vote, according to his campaign website.

Following the 2010 election cycle, Nelson ran and won the position of Outagamie County Executive besting a crowded field of six candidates.

The announcement brings a strong Democrat into the 8th District race in a November election that some observers say could tip the balance of power in Congress.

Republicans have a solid majority in the House, but Democrats are hoping that a significant victory in the presidential race could bring Congress with them.

In a district that could switch from Republican to Democrat, the race likely will receive significant national attention.

More from Nelson’s website:
Thomas Nelson was born in St. Paul Minnesota. He graduated from Little Chute High School in 1994 and attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. After graduating, Nelson went on to earn a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University in 2004.

Nelson, a Democrat, was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2004 in a traditionally conservative part of the state. He campaigned tirelessly, knocking on thousands of doors, and his pledge to deliver aggressive service and outreach resonated with voters in the Fox Valley.

He is known throughout the region and the state for his deep commitment to his constituents and has knocked on over 80,000 doors. Since taking office in 2005, Nelson has kept his pledge to provide outstanding service to residents of his district, who re-elected him in 2006 and again in 2008 with margins over 60 percent.

After a new Democratic majority was elected in the fall of 2008, Nelson was selected by his peers to serve as Assembly Majority Leader – the second highest ranking member of the Assembly Democratic Leadership. He was one of the youngest legislators in Wisconsin history to serve in this position.

In 2010, Nelson won his party’s nomination for lieutenant governor, beating a crowded field with over fifty percent of the vote.

Following the 2010 election cycle, Nelson ran and won the position of Outagamie County Executive besting a crowded field of six candidates. As County Executive, Nelson oversees a $200 million annual budget, thirty-one departments and a 1,100 person workforce.

Outagamie County holds a Aaa bond rating, one of five in the state, and a stable tax rate. The county offers a range of quality public services and boasts a growing, thriving local economy.

Nelson is a board member of Fox Valley Technical College and Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry (Kaukauna). He and his family belong to Christ the King Lutheran (Combined Locks) and St. Therese Catholic (Appleton) churches. He resides in Appleton with his wife Maria, daughter Mary and Lucy, a Yorkshire Terrier.

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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.