When the Love is Gone

Conservative talk radio in southeastern Wisconsin spent a great deal of time on Friday ripping Gov. Walker’s decision to reject a new casino-resort complex in Kenosha, which is the topic of a forum over at Right Wisconsin today. It’s amazing how quickly some of the governor’s most loyal supporters have turned into bloodthirsty critics on this issue, entire unable to appreciate the political angle.

The casino would’ve cut into the monopoly on Indian gambling held by the Potawatomi tribe, which runs a gambling mega-plex in Milwaukee. The main rationale used by commentators like radio host Mark Belling is that the casino, just a stone’s throw from the Illinois border, would’ve lured people from the Chicago area to spend money in Wisconsin.

If the likes of Belling were surprised by Walker’s decision, they are fools. The governor hasn’t achieved the improbable electoral victories in his political career by being tone-deaf to political realities; that deftness is an advantage now more than ever with Walker running for president. And gambling doesn’t play well with some on the right. At RW, I said:

…Ultimately the real gamble was for the guy making the call. Gov. Walker rolled the dice that disappointed Mark Belling and the Menominees (wasn’t that the name of Mark’s band in college?), a price he had to pay to avoid criticisms he mortgaged morality for jobs – the view of some important voter blocs.

Those thoroughly familiar with Walker know he doesn’t take these decisions lightly. Walker’s firmly committed to jobs – but he’s also firmly committed to his political career. A casino that could’ve been a job creation wash and that bore the risk of blowing a hole in the state budget wasn’t worth the risk to Walker’s image.

Some may argue that Walker’s image as an “unintimidated” warrior is in jeopardy over this. James Wigderson said, “I’m looking forward to reading about the casino decision in Walker’s next book, ‘Oscillation.'” The fact is that nobody outside of Wisconsin cares about some slot machine boutique in Kenosha, Wisconsin. For that matter, over here in La Crosse, where I can drive my boat to Iowa, I don’t care either.

Anyway, whole thing here.

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.