Amateur Hour in Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District

On Monday, we published a memo from Ken Van Doren that outlined his inane and anti-veteran, anti-military strategy to take down Tony Kurtz in the Republican Primary for the 3rd Congressional District on August 12. The reaction has been absurd.

I have no interest in, and get no benefit from, getting into a tit-for-tat back and forth, as enjoyable as that would be. It’s like arguing with people of Facebook. That the Van Doren campaign felt the need to respond to a blog post published on a site that, at best, gets 200 hits in a day, reveals the sheer desperation, inexperience, immaturity, and novice nature of his campaign — despite having flaunted his experience as a serial rabble-rouser in local politics. One would think someone who has accumulated as many years as Van Doren would have this wisdom. It’s incredibly counterproductive for a candidate like Van Doren, who pretends to be a conservative Republican, to launch a war against a small-time blog who trumpets pragmatic right-wing politics to beat Democrats.

The La Crosse Tribune’s coverage of this small hubbub should embarrass its editors. The lede was that a conservative blogger — me — had written about a Republican primary, not that one of the candidates had written a barely intelligible and manifestly amateur memo trying to take down his opponent. This is par for that publication, whose selective coverage of conservative candidates and organizations highlights the perhaps unintentional but widespread anti-right bent in mainstream media. The reporting did not extend beyond clicking a couple of links. There were no emails or phone calls made by the Trib, no discussion, no attempts to achieve deeper understanding. I’d expect that from The Racquet, not from a professional publication.

There has been no coverage in those pages about my persistent take-down of Mary Burke, who I’ve called everything from phony to inept to socialist. Suddenly, Morning Martini is relevant, painted as a mouthpiece of the Establishment GOP. I’m flattered that I’m perceived to have that kind of influence. I do not. If I do: Establishment, contact me here so I can give you estimates on my consulting fee; I’m not giving this away for free in that case.

This is an enterprise that is entirely self-funded, despite the delusions of a persistent lefty commenter who’s convinced we’re taking money to write articles about Mary Burke. I even learned the Kurtz folks weren’t super thrilled about the response to the Monday post. About this: I don’t care. I don’t work for them.

Morning Martini is independent, without the high-minded allusions to impartiality that were tried and failed by Wisconsin Free or other faux-non-partisan news sites. This is a website of conservative commentary operated outside the purview of the establishment, and it really freaks out a lot of lefty acolytes that such a thing exists, not to mention a fringe kook making the work of Democrats easier by running against an electable candidate in the 3rd Congressional District.

It’s important that Republicans focus on winning strategies, weighing political realities against high-minded idealism, an affliction commonly reserved for the single-issue nut jobs on the left and the social engineers who believe utopia on Earth is possible through just the right amount of regulations and taxes coupled with an across-the-board reinvention of human nature.

Fortunately, dissent and disagreement are still legal and healthy for the cause. The blabbocracy comments while the principled speak of visions for the future and the pragmatists synthesize the best ideas into viable election strategies. Sometimes these spheres overlap but often they remain segregated. It’s the most fun to dissect the Democrats, whose mastery of pants-wetting over minutiae could be a regulated sport. In-fighting is counterproductive within the party, especially when one candidate goes after veterans and the military, whose collective sacrifices represent Americans’ ongoing ability to have these largely trifling disagreements in the first place. When that intra-party quarrel erupts, it has to be stopped; as an observer of the Establishment, not a member of it, we are uniquely positioned to play a role in squashing unproductive discussions — not as idealist moderates straddling both sides of the aisle, looking down our noses at the entire political process, but rather as writers who want Republicans to win.

Indeed, Democrats make the Pentagon and soldiers a political bargaining chip at the expense of winning wars and helping the public understand the philosophical ocean separating Western freedom and religious fanaticism in the Middle East. It is their tactic to speak of alliances gone south, to discredit America’s foreign policy abroad, to trumpet failures instead of successes for political gain. It’s a liberal strategy. It has no place in any Republican agenda, especially in Wisconsin.

When it happens, the best course of action is to employ Democrats’ strategy: Highlight, anathematize, marginalize. That is their systematic process for silencing any dissent they don’t like. It’s why everyone critical of the president is accused to be a racist. This is how they deal with people they don’t like, and it’s particularly successful when supported by the media and by academia. It’s the same strategy we’ve used on this site, for Dianne Hesselbein, Chrissy Sinicki, Gordon Hintz, and especially Mary Burke; we’ve brought to light the same strategies when Republicans have been put on trial by progressive media.

The purpose of Morning Martini is to analyze both the politics and the policy from each party, and synthesize them into the best tactics that lead to Republican victories. The reality of politics today is that the party trumps principle — and right now, the Republican Party is most in line with ours.

This is a complicated vision, and I’ve tipped my hand in describing it here. I don’t deplore the left’s tactics because they’re mean and unfair; I deplore them because they’re successful and they make it very difficult to see Republican electoral victories. Their strategy is politically expedient though unsettling to those unfamiliar with the process. This isn’t an Aaron Sorkin drama, where the most principled, progressive cause-havers win, and where Republicans are just Democrats-lite.

This is Wisconsin — beautiful, politically schizophrenic Wisconsin, where we elect one of the most conservative governors in the country twice in two years, and months later elevate a kook like Tammy Baldwin to the Senate. Republicans need all the help they can get. And we’re their reinforcements.

About the writer: Nik Nelson is publisher of and Founder/CEO of OpenBox Strategies, where he connects political candidates and small businesses with excellent digital marketing tools and strategies.
  • Clyde Fromona

    While I find this article exhilarating, I also believe it best not to sink to the level of the left by describing Sen. Baldwin in the same category as Hulsey. Don’t believe it is productive if you are in the belief you want to be widely read.
    Now I would want to reflect on her typical liberal sing songy vocal delivery punctuated by ahhs and uhmms when she has to give an answer she has NOT already rehearsed. But again this is a person trait which can be polished and changed like Margret Thatcher did to be taken more seriously as a conservative candidate. Sarah Palin should do the same I feel. But if you are a liberal woman, the squeaky, sing-songy, ahh and uhmm laden delivery is found endearing some how. See as blogger I feel I could call Sen. Baldwin kooky but why should you raise Hulsey to Sen.Baldwins stature?

  • strayaway

    After you spilled private correspondence and broke Reagans’ rule about criticizing other Republicans, maybe you can get back on track by interviewing Van Doren and Kurtz to find out where they are on the issues. Everything you previously wrote or spilled made Kurtz’s policies in that article sound more similar to those of Ron Kind than those of Van Doren. Van Doren sounded like a small government conservative while Kurtz sounded more like a US Chamber of Commerce sort of guy. Is it true that Kurtz will go along with “immigration reform” for an undisclosed penalty? Van Doren says we shouldn’t send our kids back to Iraq, we shouldn’t be butting in giving weapons to Syrian ‘rebels’, and that Europe should be taking the lead with regards to Ukraine. Where is Kurtz on all that? If you want to criticize the relative use of the term “warmonger” as applied to Kurtz, how do his policies differ from those of Kind or McCain?