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Penny Bernard Schaber to challenge Mike Ellis for Senate seat

APPLETON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin Senate President Mike Ellis will have his first election challenger since 1998.

The Neenah Republican has been in the upper house for 31 years.

Now, Assembly Democrat Penny Bernard Schaber of Appleton says she’ll run against Ellis next fall.

The 72-year-old Ellis has not had a challenger in his last three re-election bids. He said in April he would run again, but he would not start campaigning until after the current legislative session ends next March.

Ellis says his phone is ringing off the hook from people who want him to start campaigning now. He says the thought is “invigorating,” but he notes that Bernard Schaber is only six months into her current two-year term in the Assembly.

She’s been in the lower house since 1999. She said her district was not helped by Ellis’s compromise on private school choice. He forged the agreement in which tax-funded vouchers could be given to students statewide on a very limited basis, instead of just 9 districts with underperforming public schools.

Ellis called the compromise a good one, nothing that public schools also got extra money from it.