Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Winnowing down the Dems

Wisconsin's Democratic primary for Governor is going to include ten people. Ten people! (there originally were fifteen, but I guess someone figured out a ballot isn't seven pages long).
Clockwise, from upper left: Evers, Wachs, Gronik,
 Soglin, Pade, Viniehout, Flynn, Mitchell, McCabe, Roys
(montage from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/13/18)

So how does a voter winnow down the candidates to find the most viable to take on Scott Walker in this fall's gubernatorial contest? With Foxconn's arrival of (supposedly) 13,000 good-paying jobs (not mentioning the complete economic and environmental sell-out by the state), as well as presiding over a time with historically low unemployment, Walker's got some momentum with most of the pro-Trump voters.  Hopefully, the anti-Walker rhetoric will not just be about his eventual acceptance and embracing of Trump (although any logical person would think that association would be enough to doom someone's candidacy). But we'll just have to see what happens.

First off, I have to chastise the Wisconsin Democrats for not being able to come up with a unified, strong candidate after certainly knowing for four years (or eight years) that this day would come.

That being said, back to winnowing. Please, please, please understand this is not a scientific process, but what I think might be a glimpse into which candidate voters may think might be the most viable.

First off, baggage. There are some wonderful candidates out there that just won't be able to shake their past political associations. Kathleen Vinehout was one of the Wisconsin Democratic Senators that fled the state to attempt to momentarily stop Act 10.  Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is the definition of a Madison liberal to most outstate voters. Tony Evers is the current state superintendent of public instruction, and has butted heads (kind of ) with Scott Walker (and I perceive, rightly or wrongly, that Walker is the one that is left standing, unscathed). Matt Flynn has close ties to (sorry, but) previous losers, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. He was the liberal talking head on a television show hosted by Milwaukee conservative radio talker, Mark Belling--and I think he may suffer the same big-city liberal tag for outstate voters, if they remember him. Mike McCabe's often described as a Madison activist--which I fear many outstate voters, especially, would equate with the boogeyman or a zombie apocalypse. Mahlon Mitchell, the firefighter from Madison, proudly touts his strong Union ties (and endorsements) which,sadly, now in this state is not a positive selling point for many voters (after unions were systematically vilified and dismantled under the Scott Walker regime).

That's too bad, really. Many of the ideas and plans expressed by some of these candidates are very strong, and many have done positive work for the public, but I just think their baggage is a pretty high mountain to scale.

Well, that cuts it down by more than half.

Next, issues. Josh Pade is a relative newcomer to politics. He preaches a wonderful idea--inclusion and bipartisanship, something I think neither pro- or anti-Trump voters will really go for in this maniacally divided and partisan time in our nation (and our state). 

That leaves self-proclaimed outsider, businessman Andy Gronik, former (rural) WI Assembly member, but Madison-connected Kelda Roys, and Eau Claire WI Assembly member Dana Wachs. Their ideas are spelled out in their campaign sites (with actual plans to accomplish them), and seem to keep Wisconsin citizens in the forefront.

However, there are still some challenges.

For example, would Wisconsin elect a woman as Governor? I'd hope so, although the state didn't go for Hillary Clinton, and Walker's last opponent, Madisonian businesswoman Mary Burke didn't make it, either. So sadly, I don't think Roys will win (she'd be my choice, however--or Vinehout). 

Andy Gronik and I went to the same high school--the same high school that spawned conservative radio talkers Charlie Sykes and Jeff Wagner (well, and Kato Kaelin), so maybe that'd be good for him (just kidding--his ideas are anything but conservative). However, at least according to Politifact, Gronik has some challenges with accuracy. And The Journal-Sentinel's Daniel Bice reported on some major problems with Gronik's "successful" business career.

So, of the ten candidates cited in the Journal-Sentinel (of the multitude), that leaves Wachs (full disclosure, I thought Dana was a woman for several weeks). He'd be fine, I guess, but I'n not convinced that he can capture the imagination or the support of voters throughout the state.

Um, so that leaves, um, no one to defeat Scott Walker?

It may look that way now.  I never thought Trump would win public office either, so you never know.

Wisconsin Democrats need to make sure that the issues are relevant for all Wisconsinites (health care, education, infrastructure), make connections with the people vs. businesses (especially tax breaks, environment), and stay civil and decent (even though the opposite worked for Donald Trump). They have to convince voters that Scott Walker's plans (Foxconn, crumbling roads, a still-depleted education system, etc.) don't benefit the citizens of our great state.

Hmmm, I wonder if Aaron Rodgers has ever considered the benefits of public service...?

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