Could Ron Kind have beaten Gov. Walker?

The data said Mary Burke was everything Democrats wanted in a governor and her deep pockets made her a prime candidate for the job in the eyes of DPW higher-ups. Let’s review:

  • She’s rich. Having personally financed her way into the Madison School Board, Democrats knew she meant business in politics, at least locally.
  • Her track record is minimal and most of the bad stuff was forgotten or ignored by her allies. The “things were terrible when Mary ran Commerce” might not have gotten a ton of traction, but it certainly didn’t help.
  • She’s a political outsider. Save for the stint in Commerce and her purchased municipal seat, she’s new to politics. (And boy oh boy did that show! Bwahahahahaha).
  • She has a pet cause — the Boys & Girls Club — which is great, and which also made her personal and political philosophies appear so incongruous.
  • Together, these points make for someone who’s easily influenced and governs by political expediency, not in the best interest of the state.

Perhaps the selling point was the unique perspective she would bring to the job as a woman — but you’d have to ask one of the umpteen focus group participants that were used to shape the perfect candidate profile.

Democrats might have been able to beat Gov. Walker, vanquish the man they so despise for undoing the absurd hegemonic control union employees exercised over the state’s budget. They picked the wrong candidate, though the pool was weak to begin with.

It should have been Ron Kind.

He’s the quiet, comfortable U.S. Representative in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District in the western part of the state, a seat he won in 1996 and has since held. The last few elections, excellent Republican candidates have made him sweat, most notably Dan Kapanke and Tony Kurtz, but ultimately came up short. Based on the rubric that qualified Burke to run, consider Rep. Kind’s profile:

  • He’s rich. Maybe not to the personal extent Burke is, but having spent a decade and a half in the federal legislature, he’s sacked away millions and inhales donations from PACs. (Can we, fleetingly, relive this brilliant ad that the Kurtz folks ran against him?)
  • His track record is minimal and unnoticed. Rep. Kind is a quiet member of Congress and a reliable toe-er of the Party Line.
  • While Rep. Kind has made a career out of public service, he hasn’t done so ostentatiously. See previous point. Finding anything on him is hard. Any media appearances or interviews have been fluff pieces to promote an initiative here or there.
  • He actively promotes veterans and support for their families, an always noble effort that transcends the political fray.
  • Rep. Kind’s affinity for PAC contributions inherently subjects him to someone else’s demands in order to keep the cash flowing.

Obviously, Democrat Brass has other ideas. The most telling giveaway is that the DPW bought the domain in 2011. He’ll likely run against Ron Johnson in two years, which at this point is at best a toss-up and at worst leans Democrat.

At 51, he’s still young, especially in politics. A term or two in the Governor’s Mansion would even better position him for the U.S. Senate. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. As the results in November indicated, Republicans are getting better at politics. Hopefully, Democrats are still getting worse.

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.