Divergent Priorities

The last chip has rolled to a stop following the Republican Party of Wisconsin convention last weekend, a parade farcically rained – nay, sprinkled upon – by the most freakish spectacle The Boneheaded and Loonish Left could offer. With help from the Democrats, and by electing appealing candidates with priorities shared widely by Wisconsin voters, the GOP emerged stronger than ever.

Winners of the Weekend

Julian Bradley won the endorsement of the Republican Party of Wisconsin in a commanding fashion with 65.7 percent of the vote in a three-way race. Winning on the first ballot in such a race is a first, making Bradley a big winner this weekend. We’ve presciently called Bradley the race’s frontrunner.

Speaking of the future, Rebecca Kleefisch took the big stage and, not surprisingly, won the unanimous endorsement of the convention. If Gov. Walker runs for president, an endeavor that would necessarily begin early in 2015, Kleefisch will be required to step forward to a much larger degree. She’s proving her leadership to Wisconsinites.

Brad Schimel also won the unanimous endorsement as the only Republican running for Attorney General. Bradley, Schimel, Kleefisch and of course Gov. Scott Walker emerged as the official Republican executive ticket this weekend.

Losers: The Democratic Party of Wisconsin lost big last weekend. The best imaginable spokesman for the DPW – if you’re a Republican – was Brett Hulsey, who brought his circus sideshow to parking lots adjoining the Wisconsin Center.

At the same time the Republican Party was handily defeating a measure from its fringe that would tacitly endorse the possibility of secession from the union, the fringe of the Democrat Party was doing media outside wearing costumes.

Nik postulated the chance that Hulsey’s candidacy is a risky but devious strategy by the DPW to distract from Mary Burke’s dullness and enhance her moderate visage while keeping the dead issues of the past few years alive in the guise of a wild and freakish candidacy from the looney left. If that’s the case, the stunt backfired this weekend by painting two stark pictures:

One picture is of a serious, studious party, the Republicans, debating and deciding on widely shared priorities like those of the Walker-Kleefisch-Schimel-Bradley ticket, opting against the extremes, celebrating upcoming victories, and minding their own business. This is the kind of party most people want running their government because it’s the activity and attitude most modest Wisconsinites relate with.

The priorities of the GOP are the priorities of most of Wisconsin. Gov. Walker and Lt. Gov. Kleefisch’s policies eschew the short-term political expediency of an anti-reform, low-risk platform like that put forward by the noncommittal Mary Burke. Schimel is running on a platform defending that reform agenda and tackling crime and drugs with a fervor not before tried by the AG’s office. Bradley proposes reforming the state government by restoring duties lost during his opponent’s 36-year tenure and returning dignity to the office.

The other picture is more a Picasso, one of a seething, partisan mass, the Democrats, who march around outside where the serious decisions are made wearing colorful costumes. It fits nicely with the image they’ve painted of themselves by ditching the state during the Act 10 period and chanting while overturning Wisconsin’s political process with recalls in a temper tantrum worthy of a kindergarden classroom.

Thanks to the Cheech-and-Chong-esque haze in which the Burke campaign keeps itself hidden, the priorities of the Democrats are harder to pin down. But the core of the party is hellbent on overturning the reforms made by Walker and the Republicans that have decidedly changed the course of the state for the better, returning more political influence to the union-politician-lawyer trifecta, and leaving long-term policy ideas on the back burner in favor of poll-tested bull that yields more votes among the fickle.

That’s a hell of a public image to perpetuate. We’ll see how that Picasso is shrouded over, if any attempt is made to do so, during the Dem convention June 6-7 in the Dells. One would surely expect even their base would vote overwhelmingly to endorse Mrs. Burke as the least-embarrassing face to throw under the bus.

About the writer: Chris Rochester has worked in communications and finance for a state Senate and congressional campaign, consulted on numerous Assembly and local races, and has held leadership roles in his local Republican Party. He's communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.