By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jan 30, 2008 at 2:39 PM

The Wisconsin Primary Election is in just a few weeks. As the presidential hopefuls in both camps continue to sling mud at each other and pander towards their audiences, I'm left to wonder what's going to happen between now and when Wisconsinites (hopefully) head to the polls on Feb. 19.

Rudy Giuliani is about to drop out of the Republican race while South Carolina Congressman John Edwards has withdrawn his name from the Democratic contest.

This leaves me with two questions: 1) Who will still be in the race when the Badger State goes on the clock; and 2) Will any of the candidates pay attention to us?

During the 2004 election, Wisconsin was considered a "battleground state," and both President Bush and his challenger, Sen. John Kerry made a significant number of stops between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River. Maybe, once the candidates are selected, the same will hold true. But where are they now?

Believe it or not, Wisconsinites have issues they want addressed, too. Sure, we care about the economy. We're concerned over the situation in the Middle East. Taxes, no matter where you go, are always a concern and, as somebody who recently realized he's hitting "middle-age," the future of social security is an important topic.

But there's more. And I, for one, want some answers. Here are the things that are on my mind. Have things that concern you? Use the talkback feature below to share your thoughts. And, no, this is not some partisan soapbox commentary ... these are just three things that popped into my head this morning.

  • The Great Lakes: The current ecological health of the Great Lakes is on the decline. International Shipping has a great deal to do with it. Water levels are already hitting all-time lows as the demand for fresh water outside of the Midwest region grows. It's only a matter of time until states in the arid Southwest turn their eyes towards Wisconsin and its neighbors for a drink. Where do the candidates stand?
  • School Choice: It's been a hot topic here for years. There's very little middle ground when it comes to issuing vouchers to send public school students to private schools. Pres. Bush, in his State of the Union, said he wants to create a $300 million plan to set up "Pell Grants" for public school students. Umm ... the Milwaukee plan, alone costs upwards of $100 million a year. Come on, somebody explain how they feel about siphoning tax payer money to pay for students going to private schools.
  • Farm Subsidies & Agriculture: I'm not a farmer, but I'm pretty sympathetic to the people that feed me. The number of young farmers in the state that stick with the family farm or business continues to decline. The price of farming is becoming so great that more and more Wisconsin farmers are selling off their land. Yet, the government hands out millions of dollars in subsidies to farmers who, quite frankly, don't need it. Corporate farms that make millions of dollars make up a majority of the recipients of these subsidies, while small farmers have to try and get by on their own. The growth of ethanol is driving corn prices so high that many more farmers are struggling to feed their herds. Come on, candidates, I know cow manure isn't a sexy topic, but if you want my vote ... talk to me about what is important to me.

Part of me, you see, is still naive. I still believe in the electoral process and I get a sense of pride from casting my ballot. It's a duty I take very seriously. But I find it very offensive when candidates downplay the importance of Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes.

At Cardinal Stritch University, the Political Participation class -- which, in the interest of full disclosure, I am a part of -- hosts a mock primary on Monday. Invitations were sent to all candidates to participate. While it's hard to believe anybody, on the eve of Super Tuesday, will stop to visit a small, private college on the North Shore of Milwaukee, it would be nice for somebody -- in either camp -- to find a way to get here one of these days before the actual primary.

 I'm Andrew Wagner ... and I approved this message.