Future Majority: Bradley One to Watch

The Republican State Leadership Committee put the spotlight on Julian Bradley’s campaign for Secretary of State on Tuesday, declaring him one of 14 statewide candidates to watch nationwide in 2014.

The initiative, called the Future Majority Project, finds up-and-coming Republican leaders who aren’t white men. It’s a project of the RSLC, a national organization that assists Republicans running in statewide races across the country.

“The recognition by RSLC as one of the top 14 races to watch across the country is an incredible honor that reflects the momentum we’ve built, the resounding support of our vision for the office, and our plan for success in November,” Bradley said.

I’ve followed the Bradley campaign closely since it began in January, presaging that he’d quickly become the frontrunner and eventually face 36-year incumbent Doug La Follette.

Bradley is running against an admittedly entrenched opponent, whose energy in campaigning and enthusiasm for his job can be justly compared to the smoldering remains of a campfire the next morning. I wrote about La Follette’s lethargy and absenteeism as Secretary of State a while ago. His famous last name notwithstanding – he shares little more than that name with his distant relative “Fighting Bob” La Follette – DLF should, given Wisconsin’s impatience with cutting paychecks to leeches who do the bare minimum, face a tough challenge. “Do-Nothing Doug” is no “Fighting Bob.”

La Follette’s tenure as Secretary of State has witnessed the crumbling of the office from a once-respected Constitutional executive position to a wreck, bricks of the former fortress (both the office and the last name) scattered around an empty desk in an open field. Bradley’s goal is to rebuild, and the combination of that message and the candidate’s magnetic personality has carried him to several historic victories.

Bradley’s first major victory en route to the altitude he’s flying at today was winning the state GOP’s endorsement overwhelmingly in May, earning 66 percent in a three-way contest after months of exhaustive grassroots outreach. That made him the first candidate ever to win on the first ballot with more than one opponent – he did so while working full-time as a manager at a major telecom company in his hometown, La Crosse.

He’s also the first nominee for statewide office from Western Wisconsin since Tommy Thompson, who hails from Elroy.

The historic nature of Bradley’s margin of victory at the GOP convention ignores the equally historic fact that he’s a Black Republican, and – correct me if I’m wrong – that he would be the first Black Wisconsinite ever to hold statewide elective office.

The second victory this year was handily defeating his Republican opponent, state Rep. Garey Bies, in the August 12 primary. Bradley earned 65 percent of the vote and won all but three counties, almost all of them by dominating margins.

The nod from the Future Majority Project is his third victory.

Beating Do-Nothing Doug in November ought to be his fourth.

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.