Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Politics – Wisconsin

Evers and Kaul Sue Over Wisconsin’s Abortion Law

Interesting.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s Democratic attorney general filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the state’s 173-year-old abortion ban, arguing that statutes passed in the 1980s supersede the ban and it’s so old no one can say it passed with the consent of modern generations.

To the layman (me), this seems like a legitimate question. If the state has two laws about the same thing, which one governs? I don’t think that the most recent one necessarily wins. In this case, the older law bans almost all abortions. The newer laws in which the legislature implemented regulations on abortions under the framework that the old law was invalid, but not repealed. Common sense says to me that you overlay the two sets of laws and that is the law. So, in effect, the newly valid older law essentially invalidates the new laws.

But… Rick Esenberg, esq., opined on the Jay Weber Show that the cases are invalid on procedural grounds. Normally, someone has to be impacted by a law in order to have standing to sue. So, if an abortionist did an abortion and was being prosecuted under the old law, the doctor would have standing to potentially sue on these grounds. But the governor and AG are essentially suing the legislature for a law that was passed before any of them were born.

What’s interesting is that Kaul’s and leftist DA’s refusal to prosecute anyone under the old law may mean that the law is never challenged in court at all. If the law is not being enforced, then nobody will ever be being prosecuted and have the standing to appeal over it. Kaul may need to prosecute and convict someone just to create a case to challenge the law. I still don’t think they would win, but at least they would have a case to use.

Power to the people

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

It was a blockbuster week of rulings from the Supreme Court of the Unites States. With a few more important rulings to be released this week, we see a positive trend emerging from the rulings. SCOTUS is stripping back the power of government and returning it to the people.

 

[…]

 

While the court did confirm that aborting a baby is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution, it did not say that the Constitution protects someone from being aborted. The Constitution does protect citizens from being deprived of life without due process, but to make such a ruling, the court would have had to define when life begins. That was not the question before the court and to rule on that issue would have been an act of judicial overreach. Perhaps a future court will have the opportunity to consider that question.

 

In both cases, we see the court reducing the power of government. In the case of Bruen, the court checked any government from restricting the 2nd Amendment without the same kind of extraordinary justifications we require of government to restrict other rights enumerated in the Constitution. This will have a cooling effect on zealous gun grabbers.

 

In the case of Dobbs, the court returned the power to regulate abortion to the people to exercise through their elected representatives. While the federal legislature could take up the issue, reaching a consensus across the broad ideological spectrum represented in the national legislature would be difficult. The state legislatures will more practically take up the arduous task of regulating such a politically contentious issue. Since the government closest to you generally governs the best (a reliable, if not unfailing, truism), the court’s ruling has empowered the people.

WEAC’s priorities are not Wisconsin’s, but they are Tony Evers’

Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week. With all of the amazing news this week, we need to fight against Evers’ anti-education agenda so that our kids are smart enough to read and understand SCOTUS’ opinions for themselves.

Governor Tony Evers is famously opposed to using emails, having once told a reporter, “if I do one email a day, that’s an extraordinary day.” His staff, however, is not as uncomfortable with the newfangled 20th-century technology. Empower Wisconsin, a Wisconsin conservative news hub, recently acquired 256 pages of emails between Evers’ staff and the leaders of WEAC, the state teachers union. The emails reveal a familial relationship that confirms much of what we already knew, but also portends some of the disastrous policies that Evers may push if he is reelected.

 

What we have always known is that Tony Evers is a puppet of WEAC. Evers is a creature of the state’s government education bureaucracy and WEAC has been a major rhetorical and financial supporter of the governor for his entire political career. The emails confirm WEAC’s continued ownership of the governor. The emails are from the period in late 2020 when the Evers administration was bungling their way through the state government’s response to the pandemic. Several times, the emails show that Evers was making sure to keep WEAC involved and informed of the policy negotiations. WEAC’s president was invited by Evers to a live phone call to discuss policy matters. Given Evers’ continued stubborn averseness to even pick up the phone and call the Republicans in the Legislature, it is telling that Evers is willing to engage detailed policy discussions with the president of the teachers union. One wonders if Evers recorded that conversation as he did when he spoke with Republicans several years ago.

 

Evers also gave WEAC preemptive information long before he told the public. He gave WEAC a heads-up about vetoes before announcing them. When Evers was negotiating public policy with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Evers forwarded the draft legislation to WEAC to get their input.

 

It is clear that Governor Evers is a wholly owned subsidiary of WEAC who does not make a move without their input and direction, but the emails also tell us something about WEAC.

 

In late 2020, WEAC strongly pushed then Secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services Andrea Palm and Governor Evers to use state power to close all government schools. WEAC was flabbergasted that, “School districts across the state are caving to community pressure to remain open.” WEAC cannot stand by while local school boards listen to their constituents.

 

By this time in the pandemic, we already knew that the virus is a minimal risk to children and could already see the terrible impact school closures were having on our children’s education and mental health, but WEAC pushed for it anyway. Their concerns were, and are, not for the children. Their concerns are for money and power.

 

Given that WEAC’s motives are sordid, and they own Governor Evers, it is worth looking at WEAC’s top priorities that Evers may advance in a second term. Conveniently, Evers asked WEAC for their top five policy priorities. WEAC responded with their top four priorities. Even WEAC is failing at math and following directions.

 

WEAC’s first priority is to “remove all restriction related to compensation issues.” Currently, Act 10 limits compensation negotiations to the rate of inflation. Given that we are seeing over 8% inflation in Biden’s economy, WEAC would push for even more spending with which to burden the taxpayers of Wisconsin.

 

WEAC’s second priority is to place all government employees in the state health plan. In theory, this could be positive, but the emails also show that WEA Trust, the corrupt health insurance company owned by the teachers union, was an insurer for the state plan. Prior to Act 10, unions would negotiate into their contracts that the district was required to use WEA Trust. Then WEA Trust would charge above market rates. The union owns WEA Trust and forced school districts to use them at inflated rates. WEAC’s priority was to funnel more taxpayer money into WEAC via WEA Trust. Thankfully, Republicans in the Legislature would not support such a mandate and WEA Trust, unable to compete on a level playing field, has since exited the health insurance market.

 

WEAC’s third priority is to put a “just cause” provision in state law for government employees. Under current law, Wisconsin is an “at will” state where employers can end someone’s employment for any reason, or no reason, as long as it is not discriminatory. WEAC wants school districts to only be able to terminate teachers with just cause in order to prevent the “possibility of employee layoffs tied to budget shortfalls.” In other words, in an era of declining enrollment and people moving their kids out of government schools that failed them during the pandemic, WEAC wants to prevent school districts from reducing staff to be in line with lower enrollments. WEAC wants taxpayers to continue paying for government employees when there is not enough work to justify their jobs.

 

WEAC’s fourth priority is to eliminate the annual recertification requirement. This was a requirement from Act 10 that requires the employees of a government school district to recertify the union every year. Before Act 10, a local teachers union was perpetual even if the employees of that district had never voted for it. Under Act 10, the employees of a district must vote to have a union every year. The law holds unions accountable to ensure that they are serving their members. WEAC would rather that local unions be more accountable to WEAC than their constituent members.

 

WEAC’s Wisconsin is one of higher spending, less accountability, and more taxpayer money being funneled into WEAC to fuel their leftist activism and Tony Evers shares WEAC’s vision for Wisconsin. Wisconsin cannot afford another term of Tony Evers.

Kleefisch and Michels in Dead Heat

Interesting readout from the latest Marquette Poll

Michels and Kleefisch are tied. What’s interesting is where Michels’ support so far has come from. Ramthun and Nicholson are virtually the same. They clearly have a loyal, if small, support base that isn’t moving off of them. Of Michels 27% support, 14 points came from the pool of undecided and 6 points came from Kleefisch.

It appears that there was a portion of the Republican base that was undecided because they were unhappy with all of the candidates. About a third of them came off the fence to support Michels. And almost 20% of Kleefisch’s support has fled to Michels. This is after a major media blitz by Michels without anyone really going negative on him.

Now what? My guess is that the people who are planning to vote for Ramthun and Nicholson don’t move. They may bleed a point or two one way or the other, but they appear to have peaked. That leaves about 85% of the GOP base for Michels and Kleefisch to fight for. They will need about 42%-44% of the vote to win a plurality.

At this point, I don’t think that Michels or Kleefisch can take votes away from the other. Their core bases are set. That means that the only pool of votes to get are the remainder of the undecideds. I also don’t think that the remaining undecideds will break from Ramthun or Nicholson in any great numbers. Those two candidates have very specific messages and if they were going to work on an undecided primary voter at this point, it would have. That means that Kleefisch or Michels will have to win over half of the remaining undecideds to win.

So the real question is, why are those primary voters still undecided? What are they waiting for? What are they not finding in the existing slate of candidates? The first candidate who figures that out will win.

 

WEAC’s priorities are not Wisconsin’s, but they are Tony Evers’

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

Given that WEAC’s motives are sordid, and they own Governor Evers, it is worth looking at WEAC’s top priorities that Evers may advance in a second term. Conveniently, Evers asked WEAC for their top five policy priorities. WEAC responded with their top four priorities. Even WEAC is failing at math and following directions.

 

WEAC’s first priority is to “remove all restriction related to compensation issues.” Currently, Act 10 limits compensation negotiations to the rate of inflation. Given that we are seeing over 8% inflation in Biden’s economy, WEAC would push for even more spending with which to burden the taxpayers of Wisconsin.

 

WEAC’s second priority is to place all government employees in the state health plan. In theory, this could be positive, but the emails also show that WEA Trust, the corrupt health insurance company owned by the teachers union, was an insurer for the state plan. Prior to Act 10, unions would negotiate into their contracts that the district was required to use WEA Trust. Then WEA Trust would charge above market rates. The union owns WEA Trust and forced school districts to use them at inflated rates. WEAC’s priority was to funnel more taxpayer money into WEAC via WEA Trust. Thankfully, Republicans in the Legislature would not support such a mandate and WEA Trust, unable to compete on a level playing field, has since exited the health insurance market.

 

WEAC’s third priority is to put a “just cause” provision in state law for government employees. Under current law, Wisconsin is an “at will” state where employers can end someone’s employment for any reason, or no reason, as long as it is not discriminatory. WEAC wants school districts to only be able to terminate teachers with just cause in order to prevent the “possibility of employee layoffs tied to budget shortfalls.” In other words, in an era of declining enrollment and people moving their kids out of government schools that failed them during the pandemic, WEAC wants to prevent school districts from reducing staff to be in line with lower enrollments. WEAC wants taxpayers to continue paying for government employees when there is not enough work to justify their jobs.

Wisconsin’s pro-abortion governor

Here is my full column that ran last week in the Washington County Daily News.

Gov. Tony Evers has issued another executive order calling the Legislature into a special session for something that could have been proposed in the regular session. This time, Evers wants the Legislature to repeal the state law that prohibits all abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger. There are some curious aspects of Evers’ order.

 

The reason that Evers is calling for a special session is because a leaked draft of an opinion of the United States Supreme Court indicated that the high court is going to overturn the terrible Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. The court has not released the opinion and that may not be the case, but it seems likely that the court will finally correct this legal and moral abomination.

 

If that happens, it does not prohibit abortion. It would relegate the legal regulation of abortion to the states. In Wisconsin, state law still prohibits abortions except if the mother’s life is in danger. That state law would be in effect the moment the Supreme Court overrules Roe. Evers has been a longtime supporter of abortion. The only thing that seems to get his gears more than aborting babies is spending money on government education. He has a history of doing everything he can to support abortions, including giving millions of dollars of federal COVID relief money to Planned Parenthood. True to form, Evers is trying to make sure the abortion mill keeps grinding should Roe be overturned. Of course, the Republican-led Legislature is not going to repeal the state’s abortion ban. They know it. Evers knows it. Evers is calling for a special session for the sole political reason of making sure there are a few headlines from a compliant media that he can put in his re-election ads. It won’t sway any votes, but it will reaffirm his pro-abortion bona fides.

 

The language of Evers’ executive order itself is incredibly revealing. Words matter and, presumably, a lifelong educator chose his words with purpose. Let us look at a couple of excerpts. From Executive Order #168: “WHEREAS, licensed healthcare professionals should be able to provide appropriate, evidence-based medical advice to patients making reproductive healthcare decisions without fear of intimidation or criminal prosecution, and politicians should not interfere with the relationship between a patient and their doctor.”

 

Really? I seem to recall that Evers and his fellow Democrats have spent the last three years telling everyone that they must get a COVID vaccine. They have even mandated that people inject a new serum under penalty of law. They have shamed people who declined the vaccines and advocated that they should be shunned and prohibited from work. Forgive me if I roll my eyes at Evers’ protestations about politicians meddling in healthcare decisions.

 

Then there is this form the order: “without swift action, so many people — our neighbors, parents, families, and friends — could soon be unable to access the healthcare they need and deserve … .”

 

Did you notice something? In Evers’ full-throated defense of abortion, he never uses the word “woman” or that denotes that it is women who get pregnant and women who get abortions. In the new leftist orthodoxy, women are being erased with the dogma that anyone can get pregnant and have an abortion. The Democrats’ war on women is in full advance and Evers is merrily playing his fife in the vanguard.

 

Under this new convention, Evers is very specifically not defending women’s rights. He is defending abortions. Evers even calls his proposed law the “Abortion Rights Preservation Act.” Evers isn’t about women or women’s rights. He is about the abortions.

Planned Parenthood Stops Scheduling Abortions in Wisconsin

Wonderful news!

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, which operates three clinics that provide abortions in the state, is not scheduling the procedure beyond June 25 as it anticipates a late June decision reversing the landmark 1973 decision that guaranteed abortion rights nationwide. The organization in recent weeks has dedicated two staff members to help patients book appointments and figure out how to get to clinics.

 

Whether clinics in Wisconsin will be able to provide abortions, though, has turned into a day-to-day question.

Bart Williams Runs for Assembly

Bart Williams, formerly of the West Bend School Board and a long-time conservative leader, is running for Assembly. He is challenging incumbent Tyler August. Here’s why he says he’s running:

  1. Election integrity: Along with many of you (thank you, by the way), I stood up and tried really hard in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 (so far) to stop the criminal theft of the 11/3/2020 elections [and the unnecessary 1/5/2021 Georgia U.S. Senate runoff, which those criminal Democrats involved (plus the organized crime they hired – e.g., 2,000-plus ballot mules to illegally harvest and then use illegal drop boxes to criminally stuff the ballot box for Biden/Harris; see the honest, accurate, excellent documentary, “2000 Mules” for more details) first fraudulently forced and then criminally stole], while Vos and August did nothing to stop this. In fact, Vos illegally (i.e., with no legal authority) and formally (in a 9/25/2020 letter from his attorney) agreed to illegal ballot drop boxes in Wisconsin.  Bottom line: I will ALWAYS stand up for complete election integrity, even if I am the only legislator to do so!

 

  1. Maximize our individual freedoms: Gov. Evers only had the legal authority to lock us down for 60 days, per Wisconsin Statutes, from March to May 2020. After that, the GOP-majority Legislature could have ended the lockdown extensions any time with a simple majority vote of each chamber.  Yet, Vos, August, and the rest refused to for 9 more months, until Feb. 2021. If they were just going to end them then, anyway, they should have ended them 9 months earlier.  Instead, they wrongfully let millions of Wisconsinites suffer for 9 extra months – more closed businesses, churches, schools (kids lost a year of schooling due to ineffective “virtual education”), etc.  Mr. August needs to be held fully accountable for that serious injustice and misery inflicted on all of us.  I won’t let what he did happen.  I will vigorously defend ALL our individual freedoms, including our key Second Amendment gun rights which are under serious attack right now but are truly the “teeth” behind all our other rights and freedoms.

 

  1. Pro-life: I am pro-life.  I always have been, and I always will be.  I testified in Madison in 2015 to ban the sale of aborted fetal baby body parts.  The GOP had the full state government (2011-2019) but refused to pass this bill into law.

 

  1. Education reform: I am all about this.  I recently earned my Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, served three elected public-school board terms, and helped found and start up (and was its first Principal) Lake Country Classical Academy (LCCA), the very first Hillsdale College affiliated classical public charter school in WI.  Please see my attached flyer.  My opponent has done essentially NOTHING to reform public education, but he threw lots of extra taxpayer money at it in 2017 while requiring no improvement in return (e.g., much of that extra $800 million went to Milwaukee Public Schools, which were failing then and have gotten even worse).

 

  1. Term limits: I believe in term limits of no more than 8 years in any one office, except for 12 years for U.S. Senator (i.e., two terms).  George Washington set an excellent example and precedent in this regard.  By contrast, my opponent is going for his SEVENTH TERM now, with no end/limit in sight.  He’s a career politician.

Wisconsin’s pro-abortion governor

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

The language of Evers’ executive order itself is incredibly revealing. Words matter and, presumably, a lifelong educator chose his words with purpose. Let us look at a couple of excerpts. From Executive Order #168: “WHEREAS, licensed healthcare professionals should be able to provide appropriate, evidence-based medical advice to patients making reproductive healthcare decisions without fear of intimidation or criminal prosecution, and politicians should not interfere with the relationship between a patient and their doctor.”

 

Really? I seem to recall that Evers and his fellow Democrats have spent the last three years telling everyone that they must get a COVID vaccine. They have even mandated that people inject a new serum under penalty of law. They have shamed people who declined the vaccines and advocated that they should be shunned and prohibited from work. Forgive me if I roll my eyes at Evers’ protestations about politicians meddling in healthcare decisions.

 

Then there is this form the order: “without swift action, so many people — our neighbors, parents, families, and friends — could soon be unable to access the healthcare they need and deserve … .”

 

Did you notice something? In Evers’ full-throated defense of abortion, he never uses the word “woman” or that denotes that it is women who get pregnant and women who get abortions. In the new leftist orthodoxy, women are being erased with the dogma that anyone can get pregnant and have an abortion. The Democrats’ war on women is in full advance and Evers is merrily playing his fife in the vanguard.

Trump’s endorsement changes GOP primary

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier this week

The long wait and speculation is over. Donald Trump has weighed in on the Republican primary for governor. Trump endorsed candidate Tim Michels saying, “Tim Michels is the best candidate to deliver meaningful solutions to these problems, and he will produce jobs like no one else can even imagine.” What does Trump’s endorsement mean for the election?

 

There is little doubt that Donald Trump still holds great sway in the Republican Party. Given his tremendous success as president and the legions of voters he attracted to the GOP, there are many Republican candidates who covet Trump’s endorsement. They covet it with good reason. Trump’s endorsement has the power to raise marginal candidates to be viable and to give a candidate enough support to win in a tight race. Trump’s endorsed candidates have a remarkable record of winning, but there are a couple of facts to keep in mind with that record. First, Trump has many positive qualities, but they come with some deep personal flaws. He is as narcissistic as they come and he wants to win. This has led him to endorse several candidates who were already going to win handily. This character flaw has also led him to endorse losing candidates because of personal grudges (Georgia). It also leads him to sometimes endorse the candidate that he thinks is going to win instead of who might actually be the best person for the job.

 

This leads us to the second fact to bear in mind with Trump endorsements. Trump’s passion to win trumps any ideology. His endorsements do not necessarily mean that the endorsee is conservative. For example, Dr. Mehmet Oz has a long-standing history of supporting gun control and big government healthcare, but he squeaked out a win in Pennsylvania over a proven conservative after Trump endorsed him. These are issues that loom large in the next Congress and Oz may prove to be a bad apple in the barrel of conservative policy.

 

With all of that in mind, Trump’s endorsement still matters a great deal in a tightly contested primary race like in Wisconsin. The difference of a few thousand votes could make the difference. Remembering that the Republican primary voter is not the same demographic as a general election voter, the impact of the endorsement in Wisconsin is varied.

 

Candidates Tim Michels, Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson, and Tim Ramthun all wanted Trump’s endorsement, but it mattered differently for each of them. For Ramthun, Trump’s endorsement was his only path to victory, but even had he received the endorsement, he stood little chance of winning. It was a long shot and he has zero chance of winning.

 

Nicholson is in much the same boat as Ramthun. Nicholson is a more viable candidate than Ramthun, but with two heavyweights in the race, he needed Trump’s endorsement to put him back in the ring. Without the endorsement of Trump, Nicholson’s odds are very, very long to edge out a victory.

 

Then there were two. Kleefisch had sought Trump’s endorsement, but receiving it would have likely been a mixed bag for her. It would have made her a more attractive candidate for some of the more Trumpian primary voters, but might have also turned off some of the stalwart conservative base Republicans who handed Senator Ted Cruz the primary victory in 2016 instead of Trump. Kleefisch won 55% of the vote at the state Republican convention a few weeks ago demonstrating that she already enjoys significant support amongst the reliable Republican primary voter.

 

By endorsing Michels, Trump has probably leveraged his greatest possible impact on the race. Coming in late, Michels is blitzing the state with commercials and had already moved to a virtual tie with Kleefisch. Trump’s endorsement gives Michels unlimited free media attention from a mainstream media that still laps up whatever scrap Trump throws in their bowls. The endorsement also likely moves some voters from Nicholson and Ramthun into the Michels camp. Combined, it makes Michels the frontrunner with nine weeks to go until the election.

 

Perhaps endorsing Michels was inevitable for Trump. They share interests as builders and businessmen. Michels was something of an insider during the Trump administration while serving on Trump’s infrastructure task force and as a financial supporter. Michels fits the same mold of the businessman-turned-politician. But Trump is always Trump’s biggest fan and does not endorse candidates who do not demonstrate fealty.

 

My fervent hope remains that the Republicans have a robust debate about the issues that matter to Wisconsinites and how Gov. Tony Evers has failed the people of Wisconsin. Winning on Aug. 9 is important for the candidates. Winning on Nov. 8 is crucial for Wisconsin.

Washington County Extends “Temporary” Sales Tax… Again

I know that I’ve been on this for 20 years, but this is the object lesson for never believing government when they sell a tax as a “temporary” measure for some “emergency.” Come to think of it, that lesson applies to any government program.

WEST BEND — The Washington County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved keeping the county’s 0.5% sales tax in place Wednesday night.

As a reminder, I wrote this is 2006:

In 1998, Washington County was in a bit of a pickle. Several large capital improvement projects, like an expansion of the University of Wisconsin Washington County, the courthouse addition, and new Highway Department facilities, were looming and there wasn’t going to be enough tax revenue to pay for them. In the face of a crisis, the County Board did what governments always do – they raised taxes.

 

In this case, the new tax came in the form of a half penny county sales tax. They also designated part of the sales tax to be used for debt service, but that didn’t kick in until three years ago. Since 1999, the sales tax has removed over $49,400,000 from the pockets of people who choose to spend money in Washington County. Since the new sales tax was primarily for one time expenses, the County Board put in a provision that says that the County Board can vote to stop collecting the tax in 2006 – this year. If no vote is taken to stop the tax, then the tax will continue indefinitely.

Trump’s endorsement changes GOP primary

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

There is little doubt that Donald Trump still holds great sway in the Republican Party. Given his tremendous success as president and the legions of voters he attracted to the GOP, there are many Republican candidates who covet Trump’s endorsement. They covet it with good reason. Trump’s endorsement has the power to raise marginal candidates to be viable and to give a candidate enough support to win in a tight race. Trump’s endorsed candidates have a remarkable record of winning, but there are a couple of facts to keep in mind with that record. First, Trump has many positive qualities, but they come with some deep personal flaws. He is as narcissistic as they come and he wants to win. This has led him to endorse several candidates who were already going to win handily. This character flaw has also led him to endorse losing candidates because of personal grudges (Georgia). It also leads him to sometimes endorse the candidate that he thinks is going to win instead of who might actually be the best person for the job.

 

This leads us to the second fact to bear in mind with Trump endorsements. Trump’s passion to win trumps any ideology. His endorsements do not necessarily mean that the endorsee is conservative. For example, Dr. Mehmet Oz has a long-standing history of supporting gun control and big government healthcare, but he squeaked out a win in Pennsylvania over a proven conservative after Trump endorsed him. These are issues that loom large in the next Congress and Oz may prove to be a bad apple in the barrel of conservative policy.

 

With all of that in mind, Trump’s endorsement still matters a great deal in a tightly contested primary race like in Wisconsin. The difference of a few thousand votes could make the difference. Remembering that the Republican primary voter is not the same demographic as a general election voter, the impact of the endorsement in Wisconsin is varied.

Ancient Politician Heads to Africa During Campaign

Arrogant or indifferent?

La Follette told The Associated Press that he plans to leave on a trip to Kenya and Zimbabwe on Sunday and doesn’t plan to return to Wisconsin until “early July.” The 81-year-old Democrat said he booked the trip two years ago but had to postpone it due to the COVID-19 pandemic and doesn’t want to lose his down payment.

The trip comes as La Follette faces a challenge within his own party for his job and with Republicans targeting his office.

“It’s probably not the best time, but I had no choice unless I had to forfeit the payment I made for it,” he said. “So I decided that life has to go on.”

Knudson Resigns from WEC

Good.

Former GOP state Rep. Dean Knudson Wednesday announced his resignation from the Elections Commission once a replacement is in place.

 

Knudson, appointed to the commission by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, said during a late afternoon meeting it has become clear to him that he’s no longer effective in his role as a Republican on the body.

 

He moved — and the commission approved — putting off selecting a new chair until a replacement is selected.

 

Knudson said he wasn’t interested in the role.

 

“It’s been made clear to me from the highest level of the Republican Party of Wisconsin that there’s a deep desire that I not be the chair. That’s fine,” Knudson said without offering specifics.

Knudson has been bad at this job. It curious, however, how his resignation came about. There have been calls for his removal and replacement from base Republicans and various Republican leaders since early 2020. It was early in 2020 when it became clear that the WEC was going to ignore laws, overstep its authority, and do so in favor of Democrats whenever possible.

And yet… those calls went unanswered until now. Knudson clearly felt that he should stay in the role because someone in the GOP leadership was telling him to do so. Vos? Of course. Who else? And who finally changed their mind? And why did it take so long?

Who is the real outsider?

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier this week:

The Wisconsin Republicans held their convention this past weekend. State political conventions are usually fairly lively and fun for those who attend, but utterly boring for those looking in from the outside. It is a time for party loyalists to reconnect with friends, revel in philosophical debates with people who think about such things, and advocate for elected and party leaders. It is only during important election years that anyone outside of the party pays any attention with opponents looking for “gotchas” and loyalists looking for direction.

 

The most anticipated and interesting event from this year’s state Republican convention was the result of the party endorsement vote. Every four years, the delegates of the convention will vote to endorse a primary candidate for governor. In order for the party to endorse a candidate, 60% or more of the delegates must vote for the same candidate.

 

The party’s endorsement is not just about bragging rights. It carries with it official party support with financial and logistical support for the endorsed candidate. Party members are free to support and work for whichever candidate they choose, but the party itself cannot support a primary candidate without that candidate being endorsed by the convention delegates. In recent memory, there has always been a strong front-runner for the Republican ticket well before the convention, so the convention delegates have used the endorsement vote as a mechanism to rally support for the chosen candidate. For example, in 2006, Mark Green and Scott Walker were battling for the nomination, but Walker dropped out in March and the Republican convention that year was more of a campaign rally for Green than anything else.

 

This year is different. With expectations high that the Republican candidate will have a strong chance of winning the governorship against incumbent Tony Evers, there is a sporty race for the Republican nomination. This cast a new importance on the party endorsement, but with a reversed polarity.

 

Many voters who always vote Republican or might lean that way this year are fed up with politicians. There is a strong feeling, stoked by traditional anti-government groups and egged on by the Trump wing of the party, that we need to throw all the bums out and elect political novices to office. That feeling is justified by the poor performance of our entire political establishment and rooted in our American tradition of amateur governance.

 

In this environment, the party endorsement is viewed by many as a negative. When the people want an outsider, the endorsement of a political party is political poison. How can a candidate be an outsider if the party establishment, as represented by the delegates of a formal convention, have endorsed that candidate?

 

Rebecca Kleefisch has been the GOP front-runner for months and, until Tim Michels entered the race, was widely expected to receive the Republican Party’s endorsement. Since entering the race, Michels has been flooding the media with commercials touting him as an outsider. Michels is wrangling over the title of “outsider” with Kevin Nicholson, who has been positioning himself as such for years. Timothy Ramthun might actually be the biggest outsider, even though he is an elected member of the state Assembly, as he runs on the fringe issue of overturning the 2020 election. Kleefisch, not to be out-outsidered, reminds people that she was an original outsider who challenged and beat the party favorite to get the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor (true).

 

So who is the real outsider? Frankly, who cares? It is a stupid distinction by which to decide for whom you will vote. Instead of bickering over who is the outsider, or the real outsider, or the super outsider, or the out-there outsider, we should cast our vote for the person who most shares our values and who is most likely to be effective in governing by those values. Values matter. Ideology matters (see: Biden administration). Backbone matters. Leadership matters. Execution matters. The insider-outsider continuum is meaningless.

 

For the record, nobody won the Republican party’s endorsement, so I guess all of the candidates are outsiders.

No Lifeguards. Two Solutions.

All of southeast Wisconsin is struggling to find lifeguards to staff their various swimming areas. Two of the most conservative areas of the state are taking radically different directions to solve it.

West Bend, via the Washington County Insider.

Last week the West Bend common council voted 5-2 (with alderwoman Tracy Ahrens absent) to seek bids on what it would cost to fill a portion of Regner Park Pond to turn it into a 3-foot wading pond. The early cost estimate was about $100,000.

Waukesha, via Fox6.

Waukesha County Parks beach swimming season will open with Swim at Your Own Risk (SAYOR) hours at six beach locations on Friday, May 27. There will be no lifeguards staffed at any beaches this season due to the labor shortage.

West Bend wants to pour taxpayer money into the pond and eliminate it as a swimming hole. It would take much more money to reverse the decision and dredge the pond again when and if lifeguards are available again. (At the rate of inflation, it might be cheaper to actually fill it with dollar bills instead of sand, but that’s a different discussion.)

Waukesha takes the simple and free approach that respects citizens as competent people who can be responsible for themselves.

West Bend’s approach is something I would expect from Milwaukee or Madison.

Waukesha’s approach is something I would expect to see in… well… West Bend.

Get it together, West Bend. Be more like Waukesha.

Who is the real outsider?

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

Rebecca Kleefisch has been the GOP front-runner for months and, until Tim Michels entered the race, was widely expected to receive the Republican Party’s endorsement. Since entering the race, Michels has been flooding the media with commercials touting him as an outsider. Michels is wrangling over the title of “outsider” with Kevin Nicholson, who has been positioning himself as such for years. Timothy Ramthun might actually be the biggest outsider, even though he is an elected member of the state Assembly, as he runs on the fringe issue of overturning the 2020 election. Kleefisch, not to be out-outsidered, reminds people that she was an original outsider who challenged and beat the party favorite to get the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor (true).

 

So who is the real outsider? Frankly, who cares? It is a stupid distinction by which to decide for whom you will vote. Instead of bickering over who is the outsider, or the real outsider, or the super outsider, or the out-there outsider, we should cast our vote for the person who most shares our values and who is most likely to be effective in governing by those values. Values matter. Ideology matters (see: Biden administration). Backbone matters. Leadership matters. Execution matters. The insider-outsider continuum is meaningless.

 

For the record, nobody won the Republican party’s endorsement, so I guess all of the candidates are outsiders.

Evers fails to act to stem rise in violent crime

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week.

Two facts have become very clear this election year. First, crime is a huge priority for Wisconsinites. Second, crime is not a priority at all for Gov. Tony Evers.

 

Since Tony Evers took office, crime — particularly violent crime — is way up in Wisconsin. Reviewing the crime statistics compiled by Wisconsin’s Department of Justice tells a tragic story. In comparing 2018 (the last year before Evers took office) to 2021 (the last full year), there were 82% more murders in Wisconsin, 16% more aggravated assaults, and 111% more vehicle thefts.

 

Even more tragic, while murders were up by 82%, arrests for murder were only up 15%. And while aggravated assaults were up by 16%, arrests for aggravated assaults were down by 4%. We have more violent crime, and we are arresting fewer of those violent criminals.

 

The vast majority of the rise in crime is coming from Milwaukee. The crime in Milwaukee made national news last Friday when 21 people were shot near the Deer District after the Bucks game. The violence prompted the Bucks to cancel the planned watch party in the Deer District for game seven of the series. Sadly, such violence is only slightly worse than what has become a normal weekend night in Milwaukee. It would be easy to dismiss the crime in Milwaukee. After all, citizens of the city of Milwaukee made it clear in the last mayoral election that they are unconcerned with the crime. They had a clear choice to elect a pro-law enforcement crimefighter and picked the other guy instead. But Milwaukee remains an economic and cultural nexus of the state. What happens in Milwaukee impacts all of Wisconsin. Despite the rising crime that is eating the core of Wisconsin’s largest city and spreading to other communities, Evers has made it clear that fighting crime is not a priority. After each heinous crime, Evers tweets the requisite sympathies and admonitions to behave, but does nothing.

 

After a monster with a history of violent crime and racist online rants was freed on $1,000 bail in Milwaukee two days before careening through the Waukesha Christmas Parade killing six and injuring dozens, Evers shared the appropriate sentiments and did nothing. Evers did not even admonish Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm for recommending a trivial bail, nor did he use his power as governor to remove Chisholm from office. Chisholm’s office has a history of coddling violent criminals, but Evers supports Chisholm’s policies.

 

After the shootings in Milwaukee last week, Evers once again took to media outlets to express his sorrow and outrage. And once again he is not acting to make any changes to keep it from happening again. Evers’ lieutenant governor, Mandela Barnes, who is also running for U.S. Senate, tweeted about the need for gun control — the old hobby horse of totalitarians throughout modern history — without even bothering to give any specific policy prescriptions.

 

In each of Evers’ budgets, he failed to offer any policy initiatives to reduce crime. Instead, under the label of “criminal justice reform,” Evers proposed spending more money on education and training for crooks in jail. He campaigned on closing the juvenile facilities of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, but four years later, they remain open waiting for a better solution for Wisconsin’s young criminals. Evers is consistent in advocating to legalize marijuana as a means of reducing crime, but such policies are more about appeasing college kids and crusty hippies. Nowhere in Evers’ budgets is there anything designed to lock up more criminals, empower law enforcement, or compel district attorneys and judges to conduct themselves with the rigor and vigor that justice and victims deserve.

 

Safe behind the walls of his taxpayer-provided mansion with armed guards escorting him wherever he goes, Governor Evers has consistently demonstrated disinterest in the explosion in violent crime that is wrecking lives and destroying the quality of life in the state. Wisconsin needs a new governor who cares more about victims than criminals.

Wisconsin GOP Does Not Endorse for Governor

Huh.

MIDDLETON, Wis. — Wisconsin Republicans voted Saturday not to endorse anyone for governor ahead of the GOP primary in August, with former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch falling just short of the 60% needed to get the nod — and cash — that comes with winning the party’s official backing.

 

It marked the first time delegates have not endorsed a candidate for governor. Many activists, and one of Kleefisch’s rivals, had argued for not endorsing anyone, saying it would fracture the party.

 

[…]

 

Kleefisch got 55%, while “no endorsement” got 43% on the final ballot. The other candidates were all in the single digits.

I’m not there, so I don’t have a personal feel for the mood of the delegates. Judging from comments on social media, Michels and Nicholson supporters were pushing for no endorsement because they knew that their respective candidates could not win it. I don’t know what Ramthun’s supporters were up to. In the end, no other candidate was strong enough to deny Kleefisch the endorsement, but there were enough people who did not want to risk fracturing the party.

What does it mean? I think that Michels and Nicholson miscalculated. They are both running on the “outsider” ticket and are trying to paint Kleefisch as the “insider.” But by managing to deny her the endorsement, Kleefisch doesn’t appear to be the insider that they are trying to portray her as. Meanwhile, Kleefisch has still demonstrated strong support from core Republicans with a solid 55% showing. Michels and Nicholson would have been better off pushing to get Kleefisch the nomination (quietly, of course), so that they could hang it like a millstone around her neck during the election. As it is, they helped muddy the insider/outsider dynamic.

There is the practical matter that the endorsement brings with it official support from the Republican Party including money and party resources. But given Kleefisch’s strong support, she’s likely to get all the help she needs anyway from the state and county party functionaries.

 

Politicos Frustrated with Wisconsin Conservative Activists

Heh.

State party Chair Paul Farrow says the engagement he’s seeing from the grassroots is unlike anything he’s seen before.

 

It’s just some of them have forgotten all the conservative priorities GOP lawmakers delivered on pre-2016.

 

There’s been noticeable grumbling among some GOP activists over the last couple of years about the “establishment” and “Madison Republicans” over things that range from election integrity to the party’s endorsement process in statewide races.

 

Farrow told WisPolitics.com in a new interview previewing this weekend’s state convention that many of those frustrated with the party didn’t get active until 2016, when Donald Trump was on the ballot for the first time. They’ve also forgotten things like Act 10, right-to-work, concealed carry and photo ID that got done before they got active.

I don’t completely disagree. We got a lot done in those heady years of 2011-2016. We should remember and appreciate it. I was there. So were a lot of other conservative activists.

BUT.. 2016 was SIX years ago, And politics is not about what you’ve done. It’s about what you are going to do. Farrow and other Republicans are still looking to be rewarded for their hard work of SIX years ago. And many of those same Republicans who championed the conservative reform revolution of the Walker area have changed. They have become complacent, lazy, or outright institutionalized in Madison.

AND… Farrow and others should be spending less time reminding the base about what they have done and more time listening to the base about what the base wants them to do next.

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