After a trying week, former alderman changes mind about challenging Vos

A week after announcing his intention to run as a Democrat for the 63rd Assembly District seat currently held by Speaker Robin Vos, former Burlington alderman Bob Prailes has decided not to seek the position.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Prailes said his family has been the target of “ugly and personal attacks” in the past week, which prompted his decision to pull out.

Bob Prailes

“I quickly realized that I am not the type of person who thrives in this type of situation, and that I had not adequately prepared my family for the consequences that would arise from my candidacy,” said Prailes, who served 10 years on the Burlington Common Council and has a long record of community service.

Vos, a Republican who has handily won the Western Racine County seat since 2005, has been Assembly Speaker since 2013 and is currently president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Vos came under fire in recent weeks for the Republican-led legislature’s insistence on holding in-person voting during the April 7 election amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 63rd Assembly District includes Burlington, Dover, Rochester, Union Grove, Yorkville, as well as portions of Burlington township, Mount Pleasant, and Sturtevant.

The full text of Prailes’ statement follows:

“Last week, I announced I would be running to represent the 63rd District in the Wisconsin State Assembly. Since the announcement, the outpouring of support has been nothing short of amazing, with people jumping into action to offer words of encouragement, help collect signatures, and raise money. I am so thankful for all of the support I received from family, friends, and our community.

“Unfortunately, my family has also been the target of some really ugly and personal attacks. I quickly realized that I am not the type of person who thrives in this type of situation, and that I had not adequately prepared my family for the consequences that would arise from my candidacy. I started to feel like we were watching everything that we care about as a family and a community slip away, and I wasn’t going to be able to be myself on the campaign trail knowing that my family’s health and happiness could be jeopardized. It is for these reasons that I feel it is the best course of action for my family for me to step aside today, before things get worse.

“To all who have supported me and who were excited for a more positive and productive politics, I am truly sorry for letting you down.

“To the countless people who have donated money to our campaign in the last week, we have already started the refund process. You will be hearing from us personally to make sure that you have received a full refund.

“In the end, I think the overwhelmingly positive response of the last week shows that there is a thirst for civility and service before self-interest that has been sorely lacking from our politics. We need to continue to work to set aside the partisanship that has made things so ugly and dysfunctional, and focus on finding good in each other again.

“Again, thank you for the support, and I am truly sorry to disappoint you.”

– Bob Prailes