Strange We Can Believe In

The afternoon of August 13, Julian Bradley was driving across the state for a media tour and an event in Wood County. He had taken the day off from work, the day after the primary, to take care of campaign business. The night before was a celebration; he’d emerged victorious with 65 percent of the vote in the Republican primary for Secretary of State, defeating a longtime Assemblyman.

Work, drive, and campaign had become Bradley’s new routine since launching the campaign in January. There was no time for rest, even after his resounding victory.

At the same time, Bradley’s Democratic opponent, 36-year incumbent Doug La Follette, was scratching his head. He posted this to his Facebook wall:



“Now we have to deal with this very strange R opponent…”

I’m not sure what La Follette meant by the post. His page is loaded with one offbeat remark after another and he certainly doesn’t present himself as a serious candidate for statewide office, but I can speculate what La Follette meant by “strange.”

Strange is defined as “unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling” or, “hard to understand or not previously visited, seen, or encountered; unfamiliar or alien.”

It might be unusual or surprising for La Follette to face a tough opponent, the sort of challenge he’s never faced before.

It might be unsettling in La Follette’s mind for someone to put all their heart and soul and a lot of personal money into the endeavor. La Follette has never had that kind of commitment, and he’s never had to run a real campaign.

It might be hard for La Follette to understand someone with a well-defined vision for the betterment of the office, something he’s never demonstrated. Instead, La Follette has sat idly by as one responsibility after another has been removed from the office. Even during the years when his own party controlled the governor’s mansion and the legislature, “Do-Nothing Doug” – as he’s come to be known – chose to let the office continue to crumble.

Maybe La Follette wonders why anyone would want to return duties to the office when he’s spent so many years collecting a salary while doing virtually nothing. Who would want to give up such a cush gig? A sense of responsibility to the taxpayers who pay one’s salary must indeed be unfamiliar and alien to La Follette.

In totality, Bradley’s youth, energy, motivation, and drive to make the Secretary of State’s office work better for the people of Wisconsin are so diametrically opposed to La Follette’s lethargic approach that Bradley by comparison is definitely downright strange.

That’s “strange we can believe in.”

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.