Columbus resident Rich Reynolds has joined a movement that he hopes will change the course of Wisconsin politics.
Reynolds announced Nov. 27 that he will run for Secretary of State, joining gubernatorial candidate Phil Anderson and lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Patrick Baird under the Libertarian Party ticket. The group, billed “TeamGuv 2018,” calls for “new leadership in Wisconsin.”
While he has ties to the Madison area, Reynolds and his family have lived in Columbus for several years. His son, Joseph, is a senior at Columbus High School and his daughter, Gwendolyn, is a fourth-grader at St. Jerome School.
Reynolds may be best known for his smooth, baritone voice coming through local airwaves. After working as a sports editor for newspapers in Wisconsin Dells and Mauston, Reynolds worked for radio stations in the Midwest and in recent years has served as the sports director for WIFS-TV 57 in Madison. Reynolds was a long-time public address announcer for the Madison Mallards and currently does PA work for the Madison Capitols, Supreme Hits Boxing and various UW-Madison sports teams.
Outside of sports announcing and broadcasting, Reynolds serves as a district manager for a restaurant chain. Reynolds is certainly a man of many interests, but he never saw himself dipping into politics until earlier this year.
“This is all new to me; I’ve never ran for public office before,” Reynolds said.
In recent years, Reynolds formed a friendship with Anderson. The gubernatorial candidate asked Reynolds to introduce him during a campaign kickoff event at the state capitol. Anderson witnessed Reynolds’ passion for the Libertarian Party and persuaded him to join the cause.
“I thought about what I was going to say and it turned into a five-minute speech,” Reynolds said. “After that, Phil said ‘You look like a man that should be running for office,’ and I said ‘No way.’ I’ve been engaged in politics but never thought about running. He kind of kept after me and I eventually talked to my wife about it and we both thought it would be a good idea.”
Despite being unaccustomed to running for office, Reynolds is very familiar with the Libertarian Party. He joined in 1992 as a college student at Illinois State University. The ’92 presidential election was Reynolds’ first opportunity to vote, but he didn’t care for the choices on the ballot. Disillusioned with incumbent George H.W. Bush and challengers Bill Clinton and Ross Perot, Reynolds yearned for a better choice.
“I set out on my own to try and figure things out,” Reynolds said. “Luckily being on a big campus at Illinois State University, there were a lot of places to find things out. I found that a lot of my political beliefs aligned with the Libertarian Party more than anything else.”
Anderson, running for governor, was a U.S. Senate candidate in 2016, going against Republican incumbent Ron Johnson and Democratic challenger Russ Feingold. While he finished a distant third in the race, it created momentum for a run at the governor’s office.
Reynolds admits most people don’t know much about the Libertarian Party. Most voters identify themselves as either Republican or Democrat and often don’t consider alternatives.
The party has three common core principles: life, liberty and property. The party advocates for personal property rights, phasing out income and business taxes, term limits on elected officials, the right to bear arms, reducing the size of the federal government, abolishing imprisonment for victimless crimes, school choice, and the end of government interference in the marketplace.
The party also wants to increase local control, grow Wisconsin from within and eliminate the state income tax.
Reynolds would like to end the state’s secretary of state office. If not end it, at least make it more useful to Wisconsin taxpayers. He believes incumbent Doug La Follette, who has held the position for decades, hasn’t worked well with past administrations, including current Gov. Scott Walker.
“My goal would be to abolish the position completely,” Reynolds said. “It’s kind of gone that way for the last 44 years and it’s like someone is just waiting to make that final cut and I wouldn’t mind being that person. When you compare the office to states that border us, the office does very little. Secretary of state positions in other states do a lot more.”