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Brian Gray: Davis making sure he won't be an easy target
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I'm convinced that Brett Davis, R-Oregon, is becoming a leader in the Assembly.

I'm just as convinced of his chances to win a third term in November.

I used to joke with people that the most important thing Davis ever did was pass out plaques. It seemed that every time I turned around, I joked, Davis was giving someone a plaque or a citation for one thing or another.

But I began to appreciate Davis and his work in the Legislature when he stepped up to defend virtual schools earlier this month.

Davis understands the importance of the virtual school to Monroe and to the other districts in the state. About 3,000 students get their education through virtual schools.

I remember Dan Bauer once commenting how schools may not be bricks and mortar 50 or 75 years from now. The computer would continue to open new avenues for education, he told me.

Davis and Rep. Dan LeMahieu, R-Cascade, proposed a bill that would continue funding for virtual schools and eliminate a requirement that a certain percentage of students who attend virtual schools, such as Monroe's, be from the Monroe district.

Some might argue that it didn't take a lot of courage to stand up for the school district in his Assembly District, but it still it needed to be done and it needed to be done before open enrollment for the next school year began. That's next week.

Davis' Assembly education committee listened to district administrators, parents and students who would be adversely affected if virtual schools no longer were available.

The outpouring of support for virtual schools led to a compromise between the Assembly and Senate to keep funding as it is and eliminate the enrollment requirement.

Davis has taken a stand on other issues, as well.

He voted for a compromise state budget when other members of his party voted against. He's been a leader in efforts to create a four-lane highway between Dubuque and Janesville.

I used to think Davis would be an easy target for a group of Democrats who want to oust him from his job in November and gain a party majority in the Assembly.

I don't think that anymore.

Sandy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, has been very vocal about the state party's targeting of Davis. "He is sitting in the most Democratic seat in the state ever held by a Republican," she told The Times in July.

But if there is one thing people in Green County are noted for, it's their political independence.

We elect Republicans to county offices, a Republican to the Assembly and a Democrat to the state Senate. John Kerry got more votes than George W. Bush in the last presidential election.

I think Davis will win or lose on his merits, and the merits of his opponent. If he loses, it won't be because he's a target of the state Democratic Party.

We in Green County don't want an outside group to tell us we shouldn't vote for someone.

And I don't think we'll listen to them, either.

- Brian Gray is a reporter at The MonroeTimes. He can be reached at