Most Wisconsin reporters probably wrote after the Aug. 9 primary that Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels will face Democratic incumbent Tony Evers and independent Joan Ellis Beglinger Nov. 8.
Which brings up a question: Who is Joan Ellis Beglinger?
Nurses are knowledge workers. We often encounter people at the most difficult times in their lives and deep human connections result. There is no work I can imagine with a greater opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. My clinical practice was the care of the critically ill. As a clinical nurse specialist, I worked with patients and families experiencing multi-system failure, which means the sickest of the sick. A months-long stay in intensive care was not unusual. During my 10 years of clinical practice, I developed expertise in evaluating the patient, interpreting the situation from an extensive knowledge base, and managing a plan of care to achieve the best possible outcomes for the patient and family. Critical thinking, problem solving and managing outcomes are hallmark skills of clinical nurses.
As a hospital administrator I no longer directly cared for patients. In nearly 30 years of administrative practice, I developed a clear understanding that my job was to create the conditions for the organization to produce exceptional outcomes. That meant positioning those who do the organization’s work, day in and day out, with the information, skills, resources and authority they needed to do their best work. At St. Mary’s in Madison, where I was the Vice President for Patient Care and Chief Nurse Executive for 22 years, we consistently produced exceptional results that were in the top tier of the nation and included clinical outcomes, patient and family satisfaction, employee and physician engagement and financial performance.
The governor is the CEO of the state. It is a huge bureaucracy with a multi-billion dollar budget and thousands of employees. An effective governor will manage the bureaucracy in a way that protects the freedom of citizens to live the lives they want to live. I will have a great deal to learn about the specific workings of state government, as would any CEO taking a position in a new organization, but the skills I have acquired over nearly 30 years are readily transferable.
Many of us have turned away from career politicians and political parties because they rarely produce the results that are important to us. Producing outcomes requires skill that is acquired from both education and experience. My track record is long, public and objectively measurable. Candidates in this race will tell you about all of the great things they are going to do for you. The single greatest predictor of future performance is past performance. Competence is not what we are capable of doing. Competence is what we have actually accomplished. I have the competence to lead. …
I am often asked why I am running as an Independent candidate for governor. Some are concerned that without the political machinery and big money backing of the major parties, a candidate doesn’t have a chance. Looking back, this argument would seem to have merit. I’m here to argue that now is the time for the right independent candidate to defy history, and the odds, because so many of us have had enough of politicians who are not doing the work of the people.
The major political parties have disqualified themselves from our trust and our support. Their focus is on maintaining and increasing power rather than governing. We have seen cycle after cycle, despite their claim to differing governing philosophies, it doesn’t really matter which party is in power. As you become familiar with who I am and how I will govern, I am confident you will understand why I cannot affiliate myself with a political party. The corruption of our political system is one of the biggest issues we face. John Adams warned early in the formation of our republic, “When the legislature is corrupted, the people are undone.”
It’s understandable if you feel uneasy about casting your vote for an independent candidate. As you get to know me, if you find you feel good about the person I am, the values I hold, and the leadership skills I bring to the governorship, I hope you will decide to support getting back to the fundamentals that made our country the greatest in the world.
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 40% of Americans identify themselves as Independents. I believe many of us have rejected party membership because of their abysmal failure to produce for us. We have the great privilege and power of self-determination in this country. Our votes, in the end, will determine who leads. It’s in our hands.
So what does Beglinger want to do? She lists her priorities:
As Governor I will:
Make it clear to my administration that we exist to serve, not to impede.
Minimize the burden of taxes and regulations. Spending in my administration will be tied to results.
Require government agencies to be timely and responsive with permitting and other essential services.
Promote energy independence.
Reject the “climate crisis” agenda. Its burdensome regulations will destroy businesses and crush our citizens. New sources of energy will come from human ingenuity, not government coercion.
Work to restore responsible management of our natural resources, including fish and game, which are so important to our economy and tourism.
She also claims she will “protect the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms” and “keep our focus where it belongs. We do not have a ‘gun violence’ problem in Wisconsin; we have a murder problem.” On schools she says she will “tie our investments in education to measurable results” and “work for parental choice that includes the public money spent per student going to any setting – public, private, or home – that produces results.” And she says she will “work to eliminate controversial, divisive social theories from our public schools.”
Beglinger’s other views can be found here, including one on my line of work:
Our founders understood that a free and honest press is critical to a free society. They must be our watchdogs of truth. Dishonest career politicians and corrupt political parties would pose a far lesser threat if we had real investigative reporting and journalistic integrity. Instead, we have a media that pushes a political agenda and is complicit in the dishonesty of government officials.
Here are some examples of big issues, beyond COVID-19, that we all need to understand so we can responsibly exercise our right to self-governance. A watchdog media would be all over them:
The 2,702-page Infrastructure bill and the 2,135-page “Build Back Better” bill are designed to radically change our country. They include massive expansions of social programs including Medicare, childcare, and paid family leave; billions for climate change; changes in immigration; and much more government intrusion into our lives. What else is in these bills? The media acts as the government’s mouthpiece by reporting the bills are popular with the people and are paid for. The Congressional Budget Office puts the price tag of “Build Back Better” at nearly $5T and says it will add nearly $3T to the deficit. Lies.
$20 Billion flowed into Wisconsin under the umbrella of COVID Relief. Where has it gone? What outcomes, if any, have been produced?
Migrants are flowing illegally across our southern border in record numbers. Who are they? Where are they?
Law enforcement is under attack and our criminal justice system is failing. Crime is on the rise. Murder and mass stealing are everyday occurrences. The massacre at the Waukesha Christmas parade brought it home in our own backyard. Public safety takes a back seat to fantasies about criminals. The pandemic is blamed for crime.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released 2020-2021 report cards for our schools. Low proficiency rates in reading and math don’t prevent a grade of “meets” or “exceeds expectations” for poor performing districts. The media passes on a deep dive into how creative math makes failure look good.
Our freedom is seriously threatened when the media fail us. Until they prove themselves trustworthy, we must turn them off and tune them out. Go to the primary source when possible so you can evaluate for yourself what is true. Think critically and resist acting on emotion.
As your governor, I will always tell the truth. I won’t sign any bill until its contents have been fully communicated to the citizens. I will go around a dishonest media directly to the people. Doing what’s right means standing alone when you must. I’ve done that many times and will do it again while we await the re-emergence of journalistic integrity.
So far, so good. It appears as though Beglinger learned some of the right things from Donald Trump. She seems more conservative than Michels in several areas, for that matter. (Michels has failed to prove that more money needs to be spent on transportation, has not proposed how to pay for that besides the gas tax whose increase he once endorsed, and has said nothing about the need to de-pork the bloated state Department of Transportation.) Perhaps she will be seen as a conservative alternative to Michels for those who don’t like how Michels’ supporters treated supporters of Rebecca Kleefisch (and are utterly clueless about how that’s being viewed among conservative-leaning voters).
One of Beglinger’s appeals probably is the fact she’s not establishment GOP. The GOP and the Democratic Party are part of the larger Incumbent Party, which is interested only in perpetuating its own power. Neither Michels nor the GOP has, for instance, endorsed a Taxpayer Bill of Rights-like constitutional mechanism to permanently limit the growth of government in Wisconsin. (Had Wisconsin had a TABOR-like mechanism since the late 1970s, state government would be half the size it is today.) Politicians do not want to do things to reduce their own power.
Beglinger’s problem is that she doesn’t have the level of independent wealth (think GOP supporter Diane Hendricks, one of the too-few really rich people in Wisconsin) needed to fund an independent campaign. The fact she got 7 percent in the latest Marquette Law School poll doesn’t make her a serious contender, but one should assume every vote Beglinger gets makes the low-T governor more likely to win.
Michels has been slow, and his supporters have done nothing, to patch up the splits between supporters of the first- and second-place finishers in the primary. Some GOP-leaning voters might look at the unlikelihood of the GOP losing control of the Legislature and decide that a vote for Beglinger, unlikely as she is to win, might be better than a vote for someone who seems unlikely to win and has questionable conservative credentials.