Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said Democrats will be competitive in the special election in the 10th Senate District next month.

The seat is vacant after former state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, left to take a job in the Walker administration.

“We are seeing great enthusiasm with Democrats across the country, but also in Wisconsin,” Shilling said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with

“We have a great grassroots effort up there in the 10th, and people feel good about it, there’s an enthusiasm,” she said.

Shilling said the district leans Republican and Donald Trump won it in 2016. But she said her party’s internal polling shows Trump’s favorability has slipped in the district.

Shilling said it would be an “eight-week sprint” to the election on Jan. 16.

Gousha also asked Shilling about the decision by legislative leaders to keep misconduct or sexual harassment complaints against state lawmakers secret.

“We take this issue very seriously in the Legislature,” she said before a Friday evening report of harassment allegations against Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee.

Shilling said leadership is trying to “create an environment that is safe for (women) to come forward without retribution” while still holding perpetrators accountable.

In another segment, Tricia Braun, chief operating officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., said the WEDC is trying to “find a way to talk about Wisconsin differently” and make it more appealing for millennials.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has called on lawmakers to approve nearly $7 million for a marketing campaign aimed at millennials and veterans, particularly those in other large midwestern cities. Walker said it would help address a worker shortage in Wisconsin.

“There is a body gap, and it’s a challenge that’s being felt across the state, not just in one region or in one particular area, or in one industry,” Braun said.

Braun said millennials are “ready to work” and trained. She said the WEDC has asked millennial groups in Wisconsin for input on crafting a message.

“What would you sell a millennial on, if you were telling them why they should come to Wisconsin?” Gousha asked.

“Particularly with the Chicago market, we’re talking about less commute times, more affordable housing, cost of living differences, just the sheer outdoor recreation or amenities that are available here without having to live in the chaos all of the time,” she said.

In a third segment, Cathy Mahaffey, CEO of Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative, said enrollment in the federal health care exchanges has been “very brisk,” even after the Trump administration cut the Affordable Care Act’s enrollment period and advertising budget.

She said it has been difficult to operate with so much uncertainty about the future of the ACA.

Mahaffey said the main concern about 2018 is a premium spike for people who do not qualify for federal subsidies to help them afford health insurance. That is the “unfortunate result of no action to help repair the ACA,” she said.

“We are absolutely committed to our mission,” she added. “In seven counties in the state we are the only insurance carrier offering insurance on the exchange.

The enrollment period for the ACA ends Dec. 15.

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