Regular readers know that this feature follows Wisconsin elections. It’s based on the tradition of the late Wisconsin Public Television show “WeekEnd,” which ran an “Election Hangover Show” to which it invited all its pundits, including me, the Friday after a November election.
The last Election Hangover Show, I believe, was in November 2000. The show technically violated its own premise because, as we all know, the 2000 presidential election took one month to finish. One of my fellow pundits announced he was leaving the show after the 2000 election, but showed up at the show and said he couldn’t leave the show if the election wasn’t over. (The show was canceled shortly after I left due to my new non-media job, but we certainly went out with a bang.)
This primary election appears to be not quite over either, given that there are likely recounts in the Sixth Congressional District, where at last report state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R–West Bend) led Sen. Joe Leibham (R–Sheboygan) by 214 votes, and in the 17th Senate District, where at last report Ernie Wittwer defeated Pat Bomhack by two votes. Yes, two.
Those two races, as well as the 15th Senate District Democratic primary (margin 300 votes) and the 87th Assembly District GOP primary (margin 17 votes) might not be decided for a few weeks. The vote totals aren’t official until absentee votes are counted, and as long as they’re postmarked by election day, they have to be counted by no later than Friday at 4 p.m. Then come the city, village and town canvasses Monday, followed by county canvasses, which have to be completed by Aug. 22. After all that, according to the Government Accountability Board, losing candidates can request recounts, and your best guess is there will be at least three of those. (Yes, this is testable material.)
Older readers may remember the days when the fall primary was in September and not August, and it may be September before we know for sure who is running against whom in those areas. That, of course, puts the eventual primary winner at a theoretical disadvantage, unless candidates start campaigning for November before knowing if they’ll be on the ballot Nov. 4.
Assuming Grothman holds onto his lead, I foresee major problems for Republicans keeping the Sixth in GOP hands. Grothman has said enough things that are Democratic fodder over the years. That wasn’t a problem in his safe Senate district; it is a problem in a less-conservative Congressional district. His Democratic opponent, Winnebago County executive Mark Harris, hasn’t been attracting those kinds of headlines.
The Republican strategy needs to be to attach that Democrat label to Harris, as in every dumb thing Barack Obama and his (mis)administration has done, and telling voters that if you vote for Harris, you’re voting for that, regardless of what Harris says.
On the other hand, Republicans might have a pickup opportunity in the Third Congressional District. GOP primary winner Tony Kurtz uses Ronald Reagan as inspiration, and Reagan of course created the GOP’s 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” And indeed Kurtz spent the campaign taking on U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D–La Crosse), not his two GOP opponents, correctly attaching every bad thing Obama has done to Kind, along with longer-term trends since Kind has been in Congress, such as the metastasizing federal debt.
The additional point to be made about the Third and the Sixth is that only the most optimistic Democrat believes the Republicans are going to lose the House. That will put Kurtz and either Grothman or Leibham in a bigger position of power immediately, in the dictatorship of the majority that is the House, than Kind now has or Harris would have.
The state media fell all over themselves proclaiming the great history that occurred, approximately 12 seconds after the polls closed Tuesday, of a woman candidate for governor winning her party’s nomination. Well, we’ve had the nation’s first mixed-race president the past six years, and how has that worked out for us? (“Он работал чудесно,” says Vladimir Putin.)
Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ possibly surprisingly won the Democratic nomination for attorney general, perhaps because she was located between the two poles of the Democratic Axis of Evil. (That’s Madison and Milwaukee, for new readers.) That prompted the occasionally ditzy Jessica McBride to proclaim that Republican strategists were tearing up their game plans about predicted winner Jon Richards having not prosecuted one single criminal case.
Or not. The campaign of Republican Brad Schimel sent out a news release Wednesday morning claiming…
While I’ll bring nearly 25 years as a frontline prosecutor and 150 jury trials to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, at the time she announced, my opponent had served as a prosecutor on just seven jury trials.
You read right – at the time Susan Happ announced her candidacy for Attorney General, she had prosecuted just seven jury trials.
Throughout the primary my Democrat opponents have been clear about their vision for the Department of Justice. They intend to use the power of the attorney general to advance a partisan activist agenda including blocking a proposed mine in Northern Wisconsin, restricting our 2nd Amendment rights, and reinstating the failed Office of the Public Intervenor.
Independent of how well that Second Amendment thing will go over outside Madison and Milwaukee, Schimel says he’s going to act like an actual attorney general (as opposed to the previous Democratic attorneys general, James Doyle and Peg Lautenschlager) and enforce the law, regardless of which party controls the Legislature and which party’s candidate for governor wins in November.
The Republican race for state treasurer served as a referendum on whether the office should continue. The candidate who takes the position the current treasurer used to have before he went native, Matt Adamczyk, won. That wasn’t the case for secretary of state since both candidates wanted their $70,000 paychecks, but I will continue asking why state taxpayers should spend $5.5 million every year so that Fighting Doug La Follette can continue to collect a state paycheck and, like Democratic candidates for attorney general, follow only the laws he wants to follow.
Who was the biggest winner of the night? Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. That’s because Clarke defeated Milwaukee police Lt. Chris Moews in the Democratic primary despite what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
Outside groups led by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s political action committee, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to oust Clarke.
Another political action committee, the Greater Wisconsin Committee, poured more than $400,000 into the campaign. The committee is believed to have been backed by [Milwaukee County executive Chris] Abele. …
In all, outside groups spent more than $550,000 to try to defeat Clarke in what became a political battle of gun control forces vs. Clarke, who received support from the National Rifle Association and other groups.
Clarke received the backing from the National Rifle Association which sent out a solicitation to members to contribute to Clarke’s campaign.
Then earlier this month, the ad war began when a Madison group called the Greater Wisconsin Committee purchased more than $400,000 worth of broadcast ads to oppose Clarke and support Moews. Although it’s not clear who contributed to the committee, some speculate it could be Abele, a multimillionaire who has clashed with Clarke.
And last week Bloomberg’s political action committee, Independence USA, bought more than $150,000 in television ads and took aim at Clarke and his pro-gun stance that encourages residents to arm themselves for their own protection.
The local conservative Citizens for Responsible Government entered the race by buying more than $55,000 in TV time to support Clarke.
A local grass-roots group — Citizens for Urban Justice — bought more than $15,000 in radio ads targeted to African-American voters, to criticize Moews and support Clarke and thank him “for supporting our urban community.” And the NRA said it spent $30,000 in support of Clarke.
Clarke was overwhelmingly outspent, and yet won. This brings to mind Obi-Wan Kenobi’s line from the first Star Wars movie:
Matt Kittle sees an additional winner in Clarke’s race — our constitutional rights:
Chris Cox, executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, congratulated Clarke on his “hard fought victory” in Tuesday’s Democratic Party primary.
“Sheriff Clarke deserves the credit for his victory. He worked hard and he stood on his principles and the voters responded,” Cox told Watchdog Wednesday. “The truth is Michael Bloomberg came in in the 11th hour trying to buy a sheriff’s seat and headlines, but there was just one problem: Voters weren’t buying his agenda.
“What this shows is one individual with billions of dollars can’t purchase freedom in this country,” Cox said. “I applaud NRA supporters in Milwaukee County for sending that message to Michael Bloomberg that freedom is not for sale.”
That idea — that people vote, not money — also is strong counter argument to the left’s obviously hypocritical narrative that big, outside “dark” money is thwarting representative democracy. Left-bending organizations like the Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy have long pitched their “dark money” conspiracy about conservative big spenders such as David and Charles Koch, even as the Center for Responsive Politics reports that liberal organizations have accounted for 40 percent of spending by groups that do not disclose their donors in this election cycle. …
The NRA’s Cox said the left spent a lot of time and money criticizing the outspoken sheriff for being honest.
“Self-defense is a basic human right,” he said, asserting that message resonated in a county where violence in Milwaukee’s inner city has become all too common. “Elected officials put their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don’t get to pick and choose, or at least they shouldn’t.”
Cox said Clarke’s victory will resonate nationally in the battle to uphold Second Amendment rights.
“It shows that the hearts and minds of the American people can’t be bought by a billionaire with a radical agenda,” he said. “Average American don’t want to be told what they can eat and drink and whether they can own a gun by some elitist billionaire.”
If Clarke won, then his opponents, including Abele, lost. Abele had a particularly bad night, having endorsed, and contributed to, two state Assembly Democratic candidates only to see them both lose. Indeed, the Milwaukee County Democrats wanted Clarke to lose, as did Mayor Tom Barrett, because having a sheriff unwilling to knuckle under to the thugs makes both Barrett and his police chief look weak. And in this instance appearances are not deceiving.
And away we go to November.