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Yesterday in La Crosse

A crowd of Senate candidates comes to town, 31 years ago

Brad Williams



Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire was retiring in 1988, and candidates in both parties were hoping to get his job. The state Democratic party held its annual convention at the La Crosse Center that June, and the top contenders within the party included former Governor Tony Earl, Congressman Jim Moody, past Senate candidate Ed Garvey, and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl. A newspaper account said Earl got the best reception among the candidates speaking at the convention. Millionaire Kohl won the fall primary by more than 40,000 votes over Earl.

Embattled House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas came to La Crosse for the Democratic convention. Wright’s speech did not mention that the House Ethics Committee had just decided to investigate his finances, for receiving royalties through a publishing deal. The speaker argued that he had not broken any rules. Almost exactly a year later, Wright resigned as speaker, and then stepped down from his House seat.

The musical ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ was performed at U-W-La Crosse that month, as the 1988 Summerstage show in the Toland Theatre. A new movie that summer was advertised with the tag line ‘He’s alone, tired, and the only chance anyone has got.’ The line was describing the Bruce Willis character in the original ‘Die Hard.’ Yippie-ki-yay, in 1988, yesterday in La Crosse.

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