Kathleen Vinehout

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Kathleen Vinehout
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 31st district
Assumed office
January 3, 2007
Preceded by Ron Brown
Personal details
Born (1958-06-16) June 16, 1958 (age 59)
Albany, New York, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Doug Kane
Children 1
Education Lincoln Land Community

Southern Illinois University,
Saint Louis University (MPH, PhD)
Website Assembly website

Kathleen Vinehout (born June 16, 1958) is a Democratic member of the Wisconsin Senate, representing the 31st district since 2007.[1] She was a candidate for Governor of Wisconsin in the recall election against Scott Walker.[2][3] She is a candidate for governor in the 2018 election.[4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Vinehout was born on June 16, 1958 in Albany, New York and grew up in Aurora, Illinois. Her father was a laborer and her mother a registered nurse, and both served in the United States Air Force. She graduated from Aurora Central Catholic High School in 1976.[6] She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Southern Illinois University in 1980, a Master of Public Health from St. Louis University in 1982, and a PhD in Health Services Research from St. Louis University in 1987. She also received an associate degree in agriculture from the Lincoln Land Community College in 1992.[1]



Vinehout directed both the graduate and undergraduate programs in health administration at the University of Illinois at Springfield, serving for ten years. She was a member of the faculty and teaching in the Health Services Administration and Women’s Studies Programs. Her academic work focused on state health policy, the history of health care reform and health problems facing rural communities.[7]

Family business[edit]

After working in academia, Vinehout worked as the primary operator of the family's fifty-cow dairy farm. The farm had a rolling herd average of 21,000 pounds of milk and received many quality milk awards. Vinehout's family farm in Alma is certified organic and produces hay and grain.[citation needed] Vinehout was president of the Dairy Herd Improvement Association in Buffalo County, Wisconsin for several years and represented the district at statewide meetings. She also assisted the Wisconsin Farmers Union in agriculture and dairy policy and worked part-time in 2005 as an advocate at the state capitol for the Farmers Union.[8] She served on the Buffalo County Agricultural Fair Association Board and the Buffalo County Farm Bureau Board.[7] Vinehout was formerly a member of the Wisconsin Holstein Association and she and her family have shown cattle at district shows.[7]

Wisconsin Senate[edit]

Vinehout was elected to the Wisconsin Senate in 2006, defeating Republican Incumbent Ron Brown.[9]

Committee assignments[edit]

In her first term, Vinehout chaired the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Higher Education and served as Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Audit. She also served in a leadership position as Vice-chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus and as a member of the Economic Development; Children, Families and Work Force Development; Public Health, Senior Issues, Long Term Care and Job Creation Senate Committees.[10]

Vinehout was the chair of the Democratic Party of Buffalo County and served on the Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission and the Alma Chamber of Commerce. In 2005, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin awarded her with the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for her work in grassroots organizing.[7] On November 2, 2010, Vinehout was reelected to the Wisconsin Senate beating Ed Thompson.[11] On November 9, 2010, with only 352 votes separating the two candidates, Thompson asked for a recount.[12] On November 19, 2010, Thompson conceded the election to Vinehout.[13]

2011 Wisconsin protests[edit]

Four candidates (including Vinehout) at recall primary debate for Governor of Wisconsin, 2012

During the protests in Wisconsin, Vinehout, along with the 13 other Democratic State Senators, left the state to deny the State Senate a quorum on Governor Scott Walker's controversial "Budget Repair" legislation. She returned to the State of Wisconsin on March 12, 2011.[14]

Political positions[edit]

Vinehout was affiliated with Democrats for Life and was active in the Catholic Rural Life Conference.[15] Because of her votes in the senate, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin’s board revoked its endorsement of Vinehout in 2009, the first and only time the state organization has ever made such a move.[16] Vinehout has received $500.00 in contributions and received an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association. She was the only Democrat in the Wisconsin Legislature to receive donations.[17][18]

Electoral history[edit]

Wisconsin 2012 recall election[edit]

Vinehout was a candidate in the Democratic Primary during the 2012 Wisconsin Gubernatorial Recall Election. She garnered four percent of the vote, coming in third.

2014 Gubernatorial election[edit]

In January 2014, Senator Vinehout announced she would not run for Governor of Wisconsin because of injuries she received in a car accident in Racine County, Wisconsin in December 2013.[19]

2018 Gubernatorial election[edit]

In June 2017 Vinehout officially registered a committee for the 2018 Wisconsin governor election.[20]

Wisconsin Gubernatorial Recall Election 2012 - Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tom Barrett 390,109 58
Democratic Kathleen Falk 228,940 34
Democratic Kathleen Vinehout 26,926 4
Democratic Doug La Follette 19,461 3
Wisconsin State Senate District 31 Election 2014
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Kathleen Vinehout (incumbent) 35,508 52.4% +2.13%
Republican Mel Pittman 32,317 47.6% -2.01%
Wisconsin State Senate District 31 Election 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Kathleen Vinehout (incumbent) 30,313 50.27% -1.31%
Republican Ed Thompson 29,911 49.61% +1.28%
Wisconsin State Senate District 31 Election 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Kathleen Vinehout 31,895 51.58%
Republican Ron Brown (incumbent) 29,890 48.33% -2.16%

Personal life[edit]

Vinehout owns a farm with her husband, Doug, a former member of the Illinois House of Representatives and current member of the Board of Education in Alma. Her family operates a 223-acre (0.90 km2) organic farm near Alma, Wisconsin. Vinehout is a member of Saint Lawrence Catholic Church.[7] Doug and Kathleen have one son, Nathan.


  1. ^ a b "Wisconsin State Legislature". Legis.state.wi.us. June 16, 1958. Retrieved August 19, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Vinehout takes formal step to possible governor's run". WQOW. February 2, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  3. ^ Rebman, Jamie (February 8, 2012). "Vinehout Campaign: Vinehout enters governor's race". Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  4. ^ http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/election-matters/democrats-who-might-challenge-scott-walker-in/article_313abec4-c7fb-5556-84f4-87886e032987.html
  5. ^ http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2017/09/25/wisconsin-sen-kathleen-vinehout-latest-democrat-run-governor/699981001/
  6. ^ "Senator Vinehout, 31st Senate District" (PDF). 2007–2008 Wisconsin Blue Book. Retrieved March 31, 2012. [dead link]
  7. ^ a b c d e "Kathleen Vinehout". Kathleen Vinehout. Retrieved August 19, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Kathleen Vinehout, Wisconsin State Senator: District 31". Legis.state.wi.us. Archived from the original on July 21, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2010. 
  9. ^ "The State: State of Wisconsin 2003–2004 blue book: Biographies and photos". Digicoll.library.wisc.edu. Retrieved August 19, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Kathleen Vinehout, Wisconsin State Senator: District 31". Legis.wi.gov. Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Kathleen Vinehout declared the winner in Senate District 31". WEAU. November 3, 2010. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ [2][dead link]
  14. ^ "14 Senate Democrats return to Capitol". WLUK-TV. March 12, 2011. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Pro-life Democrat criticizes bishop's move". National Catholic Reporter. 13 February 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2018. 
  16. ^ Boguhn, Ally (19 July 2017). "Reproductive Rights Record Could Complicate Wisconsin Democrat's Gubernatorial Bid". Rewire.News. Retrieved 23 March 2018. 
  17. ^ "Guns in Schools?!? Who Gets NRA Money in Wisconsin". Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Retrieved 23 March 2018. 
  18. ^ "Rating Group: National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund". Project VoteSmart. Retrieved 23 March 2018. 
  19. ^ "Kathleen Vinehout announced she wouldn't run for governor," Milwaukee Sentinel Journal, January 17, 2014
  20. ^ "Kathleen Vinehout registers committee to run for governor," Wisconsin State Journal, June 29, 2017.

External links[edit]