Monday, April 24, 2017

Dems don't need a Guv candidate yet. But stop the moping!

A lot of concern has been bandied about over what the Wisconsin Democrats will do to try to deny Scott Walker a third term in November 2018 (and make no mistake, Gov Dropout is running- what else is that political lifer going to do?). The lack of a declared “name” candidate for the Dems is something that is causing plenty of media discussion, including a segment on Mike Gousha’s show over the weekend.

Milwaukee’s Dom Noth jumped into this “Dem 2018” debate recently with another excellent column at his Dom’s Domain site. Noth mentions that Walker is particularly vulnerable given his failed record on job creation and policies and promises that don’t add up in the real world.
You can hardly quote [Walker] to create ridicule, as you can with Trump. Inelegant? Boastful? Sure, but hardly a memorable style. He’s much like Trump in promises exuded with confidence, but Walker already has a long track record of deception, of policies unfulfilled or exaggerated or misapplied. Current GOP legislators don’t admit this aloud, but he has put many in bind after bind.

This should be a campaign where the Democrats succeed by borrowing from Reagan – the “are you better off” question reaching back to 2010. Not just poor families but a typical middle class family of two parents and two kids, or single parents, or farmhands, or storekeepers or seniors – the bulk of the voters. It’s tax time. Have them write finances down and then look at the realities.

Despite Walker’s tax pledges, are you truly better off? Because of him? Can you claim real savings on property tax, faster transit to jobs, more assured life on the farm, better schooling at reasonable cost, health care improvements the state is responsible for, better treatment and balance in the environment – or is it mainly promises about not spending like the Democrats of GOP legend? And how has that welfare to educate the rich [in the form of tax breaks for private school tuition] worked out for you?
Noth goes on to mention that it’s not like the Dems lack for potential candidates, it’s just that none have formally entered the race. In addition, Noth says name recognition is something that can easily be built during the 15 months leading up to a contested Dem primary in August 2018, and the general election 3 months after that. He adds that “the interest should be [generated] from the angry bottom up.”

Among those Guv-interested candidates that Noth finds to be strongest are State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and State Rep. Dana Wachs. Both come from outside of the Madison and Milwaukee areas, which Noth thinks is an advantage for Dems (he admits this anti-urban mentality among voters is ”not right. But it’s there.”)

Let me add a side note on Wachs and Vinehout- they should work out who wants the Guv job and who wants the Eau Claire-area Senate seat, and not run against each other. Maybe the ongoing redistricting litigation is part of this problem, since that wouldn’t be decided till Fall, but let’s not cannibalize our good candidates and blow a needed legislative seat in the process (personally, I want Vinehout for the Guv spot).

To conclude, Noth says the DPW needs to ignore the money factor when evaluating candidates and stick to issues and competence.
Basically I am annoyed if the Democratic search puts self-funding ahead of actual doing. The elements I have outlined -- what’s best for Wisconsin and who is proven -- count more than private income or potential celebrity. These are people we’re electing, not interchangeable brands….

But I know what I want after Walker: Restoration in the broadest sense of the Wisconsin Idea. Even if they are new ideas. Our state has lingered too long in the middle and near the bottom while once it flooded the nation with hopeful concepts and successful programs.
Dane County Exec Joe Parisi said a similar thing at the 2nd District Dem convention over the weekend, saying that if the Dems get the right candidate and the right message “the money will follow.”

I think both Noth and Parisi are correct in this- given the enormous amount of money candidates like Bernie Sanders and Jonathan Ossoff have been able to raise through the Internet and through progressive word-of-mouth, THE MONEY WILL BE THERE TO COMPETE AGAINST WALKER. But thinking this way makes the average consultant/party hack less meaningful, so naturally those insiders want to emphasize the “money-raising” part and ignore the “voter inspiration” one.

What’s depressing to see is so many potential Dem candidates pull the plug on a potential Guv candidacy so early. Ron Kind continues to be a comfortable coward and settles for his backbench House seat in DC (it’s especially disappointing because he allows Walker to clown him on the issue of Medicaid expansion instead of “coming down” to kick him out of the Governor’s chair). On the other side, I think Parisi was right not to run- he's a low-key Dane County liberal that is absolutely NOT the kind of candidate who will beat Scott Walker, no matter how successful things are here in the Madison area.

Senate Dem leader Jen Shilling bailed on a statewide run after she had to go to a surprising recount in her State Senate race, likely because she evaluated it as a reflection of her shortcomings as a candidate. But I think that decision was misguided because a lot of what hurt Wisconsin Dems in rural Wisconsin was having Hillary Clinton being at the top of the Dem ticket in 2016. The dimwits at Team Hillary/DNC were convinced that they “had the math” and failed to listen or seem to care about the needs and issues that rural voters cared about (it’s no coincidence that all people that I have seen running for DPW Chair and other party positions have openly criticized Team Hillary/DNC’s campaign, and its lack of resources/attention to rural Wisconsin. This includes the current DPW leadership).

What’s frustrating about all of these people refusing to run in the Governor’s race and the general confusion over what direction the Dems will take in 2018 is that it gives a false impression of Walker being stronger than he is. The state is floundering economically, the roads are falling apart, and Walker is a known crook who can’t be expected to keep his word on pretty much anything other than staying bought. Sure, he’ll have a lot of money from oligarchs backing him, but so what? In the late 2010s, having “big corporate” behind you may be a negative more than a positive, especially when it’s scum like the supporters of lead paint and lead in your drinking water.

I understand that the state political media would rather talk about horse races than issues, and so they’ll be consumed by “2018” talk. But Dems need to get rid of the defensive posture, and even if potential Guv candidates aren’t interested, they need to not say anything about it for now, to get the conversation back to where it should be- discussing the wreck that is happening in the State of Wisconsin due to the Republicans.

Stick with that, have a few candidates officially step forward in the next few months, and the interest in taking out Walker will go from there. And for God sakes, STOP OBSESSING ABOUT MONEY!


  1. I am with Kathleen, too. But wouldn't it be great to have a no-nonsense spokesperson for the party available every day to counter Walker's doublespeak? I nominate Dom Noth.

    1. Good point, in the sense that with the Dem Party leadership being contested, they pay less attention to the bad things going on at the Capitol.

      And Dems need a quick-response team more than GOPs, because Dems don't have AM radio to do the outreach and spin for them. That difference in propaganda seems to hit Dems time and again, and not enough is done to get the message out to the sticks to counter the GOP's BS.

  2. If their was any benefit to 2016, it was that it got people active with the political process, refining their beliefs by the contrasts that were exposed. It also showed just how much control the DNC had over the DPW, which hindered the campaigns of many candidates that were not so aligned with Clinton.

    Noth, I think, offers great advise for the DPW going forward. We don't have to panic, and money will be there if we get articulate candidates to stay focused on the issues. It's imperative that we elect new DPW leadership that can foster a more progressive vision.

    2018 will be important. The governor's race is winnable (I so far gravitate to Vinehout), and we could get a Senate majority with 4 victories.
    Gableman on the SC and AG Schimel could also be defeated.

    Paul Ryan is really vulnerable, and that clown Sean Duffy could also lose to good Dem candidates.

    1. I like the optimism. Definitely feels like the door will open for the Dems to win quite a bit in '18 if they come out swinging and don't let up.

      Personally, I'm split on the Chair race, I think a lot of those problems go back to Mike Tate, and then Hillary's horrid state campaign messed it up more in '16. But I agree that the "insiders" don't necessarily know more about what resonates with the people than us everyday Dems do....and many of the "experts" seem to know less!