Vineh-out

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout confirmed in an email early Friday morning that she will  not seek the Democratic nomination for governor, citing injuries she suffered in a recent car crash in which she  wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

State Journal

Kathleen Vinehout will sit on the sidelines this year, and Democrats everywhere ought to mourn just a little.

Her decision may in fact be the consequence of her car accident that resulted in a severely broke arm. If that’s the case, it’s unfortunate fate intervened and rendered the possiblity of even a slightly competitive Democratic nomination contest moot. Certainly breaking her arm in 14 places and requiring ongoing medical attention would put the brakes on the sort of grassroots, meet-and-greet whirlwind tour she would put into place. That’s old fashioned politics; in this state, voters on both sides feel entitled to personally meet their candidate.

Ms. Vinehout’s permanent pit stop may also have been in part the outcome of the pressure of an arm on her shoulder by the state party. Having witnessed the bloody GOP primary for U.S. Senate that cleared the path for someone like Madison ultra-liberal quasi-socialist Tammy Baldwin, it stands to reason the DPW would resist a similarly brutal primary that would risk reducing the Democratic field to smoldering ashes through which Scott Walker would stride victorious.

Ms. Burke being notably unnoted heretofore in Wisconsin politics, other than a 2012 campaign for Madison school board in which she spent over $100,000 of her own money, it was necessary for DPW Chair Mike Tate to arrange events to portray the Madison bike heiress as a unifying force in the party. Like a Cadillac crashing into a Hot Wheels retail outlet, she needed to “clear the field.”

The daunting reality of money may have also played a role. Ms. Burke raised $1.8 million in three months last year, including $400,000 of her own considerable wealth. That easily keeps up with Gov. Walker, a feat Ms. Vinehout couldn’t hope to match.

The eagerness of many grassroots Democrats, especially those on the looney left, for a Vinehout-Burke showdown fried Tate’s plan wherein Ms. Burke cleared the field and Democrats willingly fell in line. They didn’t. But though they’re divided, the Dems have no choice.

Therein lies the problem. Primary voters ought to have a choice. But like the policies they support, Democrats foisted on their own base a one-size-fits-all candidate chosen by party elites in a Madison conference room.

Mary Burke is kind of like Obamacare.

Worse, she was chosen because she’s rich.

Former DPW Chair Joe Wineke sees the silver lining around Ms. Vinehout’s flirtation with a run – she forced Ms. Burke to pander to the progressive base disaffected with Ms. Burke the wealthy businesswoman and portray herself in a light favorable to them.

“The dilemma for many Democratic candidates over the years has been whether to position themselves as a centrist Democrat or the more liberal candidate,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal.

“She can be both now,” Wineke said of Burke.

She can be both?

Maybe she is a good liberal.

About the writer: Chris Rochester is editor in chief of Morning Martini. He’s an armchair politico, veteran of several campaigns, and communications specialist. He's the communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.