Today is the “fall” primary election in Wisconsin, though the weather is far from fall-like.
The biggest race on the Democratic side is, of course, the 337-candidate gubernatorial primary.
The favorite is supposedly Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, basically because he’s won statewide elections before now. Evers is not only a politician, but he comes from the education bureaucracy. which makes him doubly bad.
Of the Democrats, Christian Schneider writes:
According to the Marquette Law School poll, State Superintendent [of Public Instriuction] Tony Evers has hovered in the mid-20% to low 30% range, with no other Democratic contender even registering in the double-digits.
Either the other seven remaining candidates are all completely inept, or they simply don’t want to win. Only sporadically has another Democrat taken a gentle jab at Evers, the clear frontrunner. Instead, they all emphasize their own credentials and criticize Walker, giving Evers a clear path to stroll to the nomination on Tuesday.
In a perfect world, candidates would be able to simply discuss their own qualifications and leave it up to voters to make their own choices. But this is real politics, where successful candidates not only have to promote their own ideas but explain why the other candidates are wrong. The other seven candidates needed to bring Evers’ numbers down in order to overtake him; instead, they gave him a free pass.
Of the group of Democrats, only gruff attorney Matt Flynn has aggressively targeted Evers, arguing in a debate this week that Walker would “have (Evers) for lunch.” (This likely would only happen if Evers were dressed as a ham sandwich and hiding in a paper bag.) Yet Flynn has little chance of making up ground on Evers, as other prominent state Democrats have called for him to drop out of the race because of his work defending the Milwaukee Roman Catholic Archdiocese.
Other plausible challengers, including former State Rep. Kelda Roys and firefighter Mahlon Mitchell, have decided to take a knee. Both had the chance to go negative on Evers weeks ago, but each demurred, intent to simply ride out the election. Both have young families that they may not want to have subjected to a fierce general election; perhaps neither thought they could put in the time needed to raise enough money to challenge Walker’s war chest.
Roys’ timidity is especially puzzling, given the fact that she loaned her own campaign nearly a quarter of a million dollars to keep it alive. She even received the backing of the wealthy EMILY’s List, but special interest groups can read polls, too, and they passed on dumping a truckload of money on her behalf. Clearly, Roys is the candidate Walker would least like to face in the general election, but if it wasn’t for fringe candidate Josh Pade polling at 0%, she’d be in last place.
And, of course, there are candidates like State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, Mike McCabe, and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin who are just along for the ride. In the last reporting period, Vinehout reported raising and spending almost no funds. Soglin, who dubbed his vanity candidacy as a “Supper Club” campaign, seems like he may have just been very hungry when he made his choice to run.
While Flynn has almost no chance of winning, he is right in one respect — Evers is the guy Walker likely wants in the general election. At the state level, the two have worked together, with Evers even calling Walker’s most recent education a “kid-friendly” budget. Undoubtedly, Walker has these quotes in his chamber, ready to use them to blunt criticism of his tenure as governor.
Evers and the other Democrats have been bashing Walker for not spending enough money on schools, despite the fact that K–12 spending is up 21 percent since Walker’s first budget and up 12 percent since Gov. James Doyle’s last budget. Evers has also been talking about what needs to be done with schools, which is odd for someone who was supposedly in charge of the state’s schools since he was elected in 2009. (Evers’ Department of Public Instruction media minions keep referring to him as “State Superintendent,” as if Evers has more power than he actually does.)
What about the other candidates? Mitchell has been sending news releases about how much money he’s raised, though that has not apparently led to noticeable popularity. Mitchell is also a government union head, which should make him ineligible for elective office.
I would have expected more of a race from Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, but he got on the ballot and, if he hasn’t stopped campaigning since then, he’s been practically invisible, matching his polling. I would have expected more of a race from state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D–Alma) as well, because as a non-Madisonian one would have thought Vinehout could have caused Walker more problems than Roys, but Vinehout’s campaign hasn’t gone anywhere either.
The only candidate that deserves some respect for at least not being a hypocrite is Mike McCabe, who at least has not been aping his fellow Democrats by accepting huge sums of campaign donations and then decrying big money in politics. I wouldn’t call McCabe exactly a moderate, but it’s too bad he didn’t run as an independent instead of a Democrat, since he styled himself as the critic of both parties and government as usual, although his Blue Jean Nation’s Five Aims are big government as usual.
The biggest race on the Republican side, of course, is the U.S. Senate primary, essentially between (though there are other candidates) Sen. Leah Vukmir (R–Brookfield) and former Democrat Kevin Nicholson.
Nicholson has run a stupid race fueled by the money of people who evidently know very little about Wisconsin. It is impossible to imagine how Vukmir, who led the way on Act 10, several tax cuts and other reforms since Walker became governor, can be called unconservative, whether or not you agree with her votes. Nicholson, a former member of the Democratic Party hierarchy, has been far less persuasive than another former Democrat, Ronald Reagan, about why he is an ex-Democrat.
Nicholson’s entire campaign seems to be (1) he was a Marine and (2) he’s running for office for the first time. Being a veteran means you served your country; it does not necessarily mean by itself that you should be elected to office. Nicholson should be running for something other than U.S. Senate first. Nicholson also has yet to explain why he has any chance at all against U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D–Wisconsin) when Vukmir would seem much more likely to get women to vote for her.
One of the Congressional primary races is in the Fifth Congressional District, where U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R–Menomonee Falls) faces an opponent who appears to hold multiple and opposite positions on one issue, James Wigderson reports:
Longtime conservative Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI5) has an opponent in the Republican primary, Dr. Jennifer Vipond of Brookfield. Vipond claims to be a lifelong Republican, and even claimed on Facebook that’s she’s pro-life.
However, Vipond is definitely not pro-life and is in favor of legalized abortion. At a “meet the candidate” event in West Allis, Vipond made her position clear.
“I believe that abortion should not be illegal,” Vipond said. Then echoing the Clinton-esque “safe, legal and rare,” position, Vipond said, “I believe the demand for abortion should be eliminated.”
Vipond also said she would not support legislationto make abortion illegal. “I don’t know. Probably not,” Vipond said. “Making abortion illegal does not reduce the demand for an abortion. Making abortion illegal would make it possibly less likely but it…”
At that point, she was interrupted with a question if she would support a ban after 26 weeks, Vipond responded that she would support a ban after 20 weeks. But then she offered support for “health centers” such as those run by Planned Parenthood.
“The real way to reduce abortions is to get rid of abortions would be health centers and adequate health care,” Vipond said, and said more access to long-term contraceptives would reduce unwanted pregnancies.
“With the technology that we have, abortion should be a very rare event,” Vipond said.
Vipond also claimed that, because of a questionnaire she received, she learned that to be considered pro-life meant that a candidate had to be against all contraception, a position that is incorrect. While many pro-life organizations oppose artificial contraception for a variety of reasons, including those contraceptives that can be used to induce abortions, being pro-life does not mean opposing all forms of contraception.
“I strongly believe in birth control, and condoms. I’ve been prescribing them for 27 years,” Vipond said. “And even if I tried to say that I don’t believe in them, no one would believe me because, you know, 3,000 girls in Waukesha would hold up their prescription with my name on it.”
When asked to choose between being described as pro-life or pro-choice, Vipond said, “Pro-reality. The pro-life people say that you cannot have birth control, condoms, obviously abortion, or education. I cannot say that I am that.”
On the right to bear arms, Vipond refused to answer the National Rifle Association survey, earning an F rating. While she says on her website that she supports the right to bear arms, she would support raising the minimum age to buy a semi-automatic rifle to 21 and would support limits on magazine sizes. She would also support a federal requirement for a minimum amount of instruction for concealed carry permits, and would increase the amount of background checks needed for private sales.
Vipond likes to engage in conspiracy theories, attacking Sensenbrenner because he dares to own pharmaceutical stocks and blaming Congress for the opioid problem. Of course, she’s ignoring the work that Congress, including Sensenbrenner, and Wisconsin Republicans have done to combat the opioid epidemic, and even the bill he introduced to fight Fentanyl abuse.
Vipond even went full-tilt conspiratorial by accusing Sensenbrenner of avoiding media appearances because he didn’t want to give her publicity, even though Sensenbrenner has made countless appearances at town hall meetings with his constituents and is one of the most visible members of Congress in Wisconsin. Apparently Vipond is unaware that equal time restrictions no longer apply and that a Sensenbrenner appearance on any radio or television program does not mean she would be invited on.
Ironically, Vipond brings in a former local politician to accuse Sensenbrenner of being part of “the swamp,” her “friend,” former Village of Menomonee Falls President Joe Greco Sr. As long time observers of Menomonee Falls politics will note, Greco accusing anyone of being part of a political swamp is like an alligator calling someone a reptile.
Then there’s the race for state treasurer, a position that, irrespective of how the state’s voters voted in the April referendum, should not exist. I voted for neither Republican, but James Wigderson reports:
The GOP primary for state treasurer got personal Wednesday night when one candidate, Jill Millies, said in a Facebook post that her opponent, Travis Hartwig, would be shot and that his fiancée will be raped.
The post was allegedly in response to Hartwig’s positions on gun control and abortion. Hartwig is pro-life and has an AQ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Millies is for legalized abortion, including support for government funding of Planned Parenthood, and gets an F rating from the NRA.
In an interview on Thursday, Hartwig said he had to re-read the post after being stunned by the content.
“I didn’t think my opponent would go there,” Hartwig said. “And then we started taking it very seriously. We thought it was very inappropriate for anyone to threaten rape or gun violence in a post like that.”
Hartwig said it was especially upsetting that his fiancée was mentioned in Millies’ Facebook post.
“I personally chose to be in this race. I understand politics is ugly,” Hartwig said. “But personally I think my fiancée deserves better than that.”
Millies deleted the post on Thursday and issued an apology on Facebook to those that read it, but not to Hartwig, whose supporters caused her to lose her temper, she claims.
“I would like to apologize to anyone who read last nights comments on Facebook,” Millies wrote. “They have been deleted. My opponent and his supporters got the best of me and drew me into a fight on our beliefs of abortion.”
Millies then attempted to deflect attention by pointing to one question from the Ivoter Guide survey that she says prompted the exchange:
According to Ivoter Guide this question was:
Q: Under what circumstances should abortion be allowed?
Travis said NONE
Jill said “In any case of rape, or the woman is not mentally stable or in health issues.”
However, the Ivoter Guide asked the candidates if they agree or disagree with the statement, “Human life begins at conception and deserves legal protection at every stage until natural death.” Millies said she disagreed while Hartwig agreed.
The guide also asked the candidates to agree or disagree with a statement about Planned Parenthood, “Abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, should not receive funds from federal, state, or local governments.” Millies disagreed while Hartwig agreed.
While Millies did not respond to our request for an interview, she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the post was written out of frustration.
“Push come to shove, this is my first time in politics and I’m just sick and tired of Travis and his little minions coming onto my Facebook page and bashing the hell out of me all the time,” Millies told the newspaper. “I guess I just blew it after awhile.”
It’s not clear to me why abortion rights and gun control are issues in a state treasurer’s race. This kerfuffle suggests at a minimum that Millies lacks sufficient judgment to be an elected official until she learns to not assault those with different views from herself on social media, given that if she wins the primary she’s going to have to get the support of those who didn’t vote for her to win in November.
I wrote in Mrs. Presteblog for state treasurer. I voted for Jay Schroeder for secretary of state even though I believe neither office should exist. Secretary of State Douglas La Follette shouldn’t be paid $70,000 a year to protect the state seal.
Cast an informed vote today.