The race for Wisconsin governor is getting more crowded on the Democratic side. So far, four have officially entered the Democratic primary, and three other viable contenders have set up campaign committees.
Here’s an updated list of announced candidates for statewide and federal elections in Wisconsin in 2018. While formal announcements by incumbents from governor to Congress are so far few and far between, it’s generally expected that most incumbents will run for re-election. We will update this list as formal announcements start rolling in.
- Bob Harlow (D) – 25-year-old Stanford graduate who last ran for Congress in California in 2016 formally announced in May
- Andy Gronik (D) – Milwaukee businessman told the AP he will be running in June
- Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) announced he’s running on Aug. 7
- State Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers announced he’s running on Aug. 23
- Governor Scott Walker (R) has not yet formally announced he’ll run for re-election, but is widely expected to announce upon completion of the state budget.
- Former state Sen. Tim Cullen, Rep. Ron Kind, state Sen. Jennifer Shilling, Dane County exec Joe Parisi, and Milwaukee County exec Chris Abele have all declined to run.
- Other possible Democrat contenders are Mike McCabe, Kathleen Vinehout, Paul Soglin, and former Rep. Brett Hulsey. McCabe, Vinehout, and Hulsey have set up gubernatorial campaign committees.
- In all, there are 18 active campaign committees for the 2018 gubernatorial race.
- No formal announcements yet
- Lt Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R), incumbent
- Josh Kaul (D) – A 36-year-old Madison lawyer and son of former Wisconsin AG Peg Lautenschlager, who recently resigned as head of the state Ethics Commission.
- AG Brad Schimel (R), incumbent
- Veterans advocate and businessman Kevin Nicholson (R) formally announced in late July
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), incumbent
- State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R) formally announced her candidacy on Sept. 7
- Hedge fund manager Eric Hovde is a possible candidate, but talk of his running has dimmed
- Nicole Schneider of the Schneider Trucking family decided against running
- Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald won’t run; he’s endorsing Vukmir
Wisconsin Supreme Court
- Incumbent Justice Michael Gableman announced he won’t seek re-election
- Michael Skrenock, conservative Sauk County Circuit Court judge
- Liberal Madison attorney Tim Burns
- Liberal Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet
Congress, 1st District
- Rep. Paul Ryan (R), incumbent
- Paul Nehlen (R), reprising his failed primary challenge of 2016 against Ryan
- Randy Bryce (D), union activist who bills himself as an iron worker
- Cathy Myers (D), teacher and Janesville School Board member
- David Yankovich (D), Ohio resident who moved to the district this spring
- Ryan Solen (D) has an active campaign committee
Congress, 2nd District
- *Rep. Mark Pocan (D), incumbent
- Dan Theron (R) has an active campaign committee
Congress, 3rd District
- *Rep. Ron Kind (D), incumbent
Congress, 4th District
- *Rep. Gwen Moore (D), incumbent
- Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Borowski, a moderate Democrat, is considering challenging Moore in the Dem primary.
Congress, 5th District
- *Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R), incumbent
Congress, 6th District
- *Rep. Glenn Grothmann (R), incumbent
- Dan Kohl (D), nephew of former Senator Herb Kohl and Bucks executive has announced.
- Scott Olmer (D), a marketing consultant, has also announced.
- Jeffrey Dahlke (I) has an active campaign committee
- Sarah Lloyd (D) also has an active campaign committee
Congress, 7th District
- *Rep. Sean Duffy (R), incumbent
Congress, 8th District
- *Rep. Mike Gallagher (R), incumbent
- Tom Nelson (D) maintains an active committee
When Andy Gronik first started polling to gauge a campaign for governor back in April, the Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice described the Milwaukee businessman as “Mary Burke 2.0 but with less public service experience.”
Gronik funded the poll himself, but in an inauspicious turn, the out-of-state polling firm he commissioned referred to Wisconsinites as “Wisconsinians” – like “Illinoisans.” The latest example that Gronik’s isn’t ready for prime time is his declaration that he while he was willing to put up the cash for a poll, he told the AP he won’t self-fund his campaign.
That comes at the same time as Walker campaign manager Joe Fadness announced Walker’s campaign had raised $3.5 million in the first half of 2017 and has $2.4 million cash-on-hand. Gronik’s advertisement that he won’t put his own money into the campaign indicates he won’t be able to compete with a well-funded and well-oiled Walker re-election machine.
If the Democrats are going to nominate a rich guy from Milwaukee with no statewide name ID, pinching pennies won’t be a winning recipe.
Walker is also still extremely popular with the conservative grassroots, who were mobilized by the recall and remain motivated to support the governor. Walker is also capturing the political center. In his 2017-19 state budget, Walker proposes an historic increase in funding for K-12 education, far and away the most popular priority identified in the recent Marquette University Law poll.
The poll also found Walker’s approval rating improving, up three from the last poll to an even 48-48 split. Since 2015 the governor’s poll numbers have consistently improved.
Any Democrat who hopes to challenge Walker in a serious way will have to hope that conservatives are napping on election day. They’ll also have to win over the progressive base – and on that count, Gronik appears to be taking his hackneyed attempt at polling to heart.
The AP reports that Gronik, who describes himself as a “progressive businessman,” plans to run on a left-wing utopia platform:
Gronik, 60, told AP in an exclusive interview that as governor he would fight to restore collective bargaining rights to public workers lost under Walker. He also said he would reinstitute the nonpartisan elections board Walker dissolved, stop further expansion of the private school voucher program and accept federal money Walker rejected to help pay for health insurance for more poor people.
In other words, as governor Gronik would spend all his time tilting at windmills in order to “make Wisconsin Illinois again.” If he’s to be taken at his poll-tested word, he’d try to get rid of Act 10 and Right-to-Work, returning Wisconsin to a time when employees could be forced into unions and compelled to pay dues, most of which end up in the Democratic Party’s coffers.
That’s a good deal for the flailing Democratic Party, whose “compelling vision” for Wisconsin literally hinged on compelling Wisconsin workers to contribute to their election machinery. But it’s a raw deal for the many workers public and private who have rejected union membership since the workplace freedoms have been enacted. It’s also a raw deal for taxpayers, who have saved more than $5 billion as a result of Act 10 over the years.
He would also attempt to revive the Government Accountability Board, the partisan-stacked panel that tried squashing the free speech rights of conservatives in the 2014 elections and aided a rogue prosecutor in illegally raiding the homes of conservative donors and activists. The GAB demonstrated that non-partisan panels are a fantasy. Instead, it was replaced by a bipartisan pair of commissions that have functioned well thus far.
Gronik’s plan would restore a system that led to the intimidation of his party’s political opponents during a crucial election season. Perhaps Gronik could bring in Rahm Emanuel to head the new agency.
Gronik would also try to freeze the growth of school choice in Wisconsin. The ultimate goal of The Left is to kill the program altogether, meaning Wisconsin parents who want to send their kids to schools other than public schools – but aren’t as rich as Gronik – would be out of luck.
That’s good news for teachers unions and public school bureaucrats who can’t get enough taxpayer money, but bad news for anyone who opposes government-monopolized education.
He also says he’ll take federal money for an expansion of BadgerCare. Democrats have long claimed that taking the federal money would mean a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars in “free” money, but in reality the scheme would needlessly add more Wisconsinites to the dole and contribute to the deterioration of the individual insurance market caused by Obamacare.
Gronik and other leftists conveniently ignore the fact that any “free federal money” is just borrowed money that adds to the federal deficit and debt, now at about $20 TRILLION. Walker made a prudent choice by rejecting the Medicaid expansion, believing that the federal government can’t be trusted to keep its funding promise and understanding that all “free” federal money comes with countless strings attached. Under the plan Walker adopted instead, 94.3 percent of Wisconsinites have health insurance coverage.
Asked if he trusts the feds to keep their promise to cover 90 percent of the Medicaid expansion’s costs, Gronik essentially answers “yes.” That, or he doesn’t care if future costs fall on Wisconsin taxpayers.
It’s all an academic exercise, anyway. If past trends hold true – Gov. Walker’s three election wins, the GOP gaining increasing majorities in both houses of the Legislature, Senator Johnson’s re-election, Feingold’s re-rejection, and Trump’s carrying Wisconsin in November – then the Democrats are going to have to do a lot better than an unknown “progressive businessman” from Milwaukee who botched his first poll and plans to run on creating a left-wing utopia that Wisconsin voters have learned materializes as taxpayer hell.
If Gronik wants to find a state that rejects pro-growth reforms and is forced to deal with constant budget calamities and tax hikes, he should hop in his car and drive due south to Illinois – and stay there.
Photo: Andy Gronik (AP)
The following by James Wigderson first appeared at Right Wisconsin. The headline is mine because “throwing grandma over a cliff” is simply another way of putting what’s really being depicted. The ad’s cute background music and voiceover shouldn’t distract from the fact that a lookalike of the Speaker of the House is depicted as committing murder in this ad, something we should all remember as Democrats across the country talk out of both sides of their mouths about the need for civility.
So much for a more civil tone in Washington D.C. after the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-LA. A liberal organization, the Agenda Project Action Fund, is bringing back a controversial ad accusing House Speaker Paul Ryan of wanting to throw grandma off a cliff.
This time the ad has been re-edited to include comments from President Donald Trump when, during last year’s presidential campaign, he was promising not to cut entitlements:
Video of Trump: “Remember the wheel chair being pushed over the cliff when you had Ryan chosen as your Vice President. That was the end of that campaign, by the way when they chose Ryan. I said, you got to be kidding. Because he represented cutting entitlements, etc. etc. The only one who is not going to cut is me.”
Video of Grandma in the wheel chair, voice over: “But now President Trump is doing everything that young man says.”
Video of Trump: “Paul Ryan, come up and say a few words. Congratulations on a job well done.”
The ad has been widely attacked since it first appeared in 2011 for carrying political rhetoric too far, but liberals have returned to the ad again and again to attack Ryan. In 2012, after Ryan was picked as the Republican candidate for Vice President by former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Madison television stationrefused to run the ad because of the content.
In an interview with Fox News, Ryan was asked if he can laugh at the ad. “Oh yeah, I’m so used to this by now,” Ryan said. “I think the left is out of gas. I think they just basically decide, resist, resist, resist.”
“They want government-run health care,” Ryan said. “Government-run health care is collapsing while we speak. It’s not working. So what’re we doing? We’re replacing it with a law that will actually work.”
Two Democrats have rolled out what appear to be strong, well-funded campaigns to take on Speaker Paul Ryan for Wisconsin’s first congressional district next fall.
Cathy Myers is a teacher and Janesville School Board member. Her message will be that Paul Ryan is an “out-of-touch millionaire,” but in the primary she will attempt to unite Democrats behind her with the message of “let’s take on Paul Ryan together.”
Randy Bryce bills himself as a union iron worker. His message centers on bashing Ryan’s healthcare proposals and, in a video that accompanied his rollout, he challenges Ryan to “switch jobs” with him. While he claims to be a humble iron worker, Bryce is a familiar face in political activist circles, having testified before the state legislature against conservative union reforms and taking the bullhorn at a rally protesting President Trump’s visit to Milwaukee.
Is Bryce actually an iron worker, or is he actually one of those people who climbs the union ranks far enough to spend all this time on the job doing union activist work while everyone else toils away?
Both Bryce and Myers rolled out their campaigns with slick, highly produced videos that attempt to tug at heartstrings over healthcare reform. As is the case across the country, the Democrats try to claim Obamacare’s repeal and replacement will cause people to die. Ryan, who was the target of the now-iconic “throwing granny over the cliff” TV ad, is used to being painted as an evil person by the left.
Painting their political opponents as evil death mongers and mustache twirlers seems to be the only hope for a political party with no actual ideas for running a cribbage club, let alone the entire country.
A third Democrat, David Yankovich, has also announced his candidacy. “Weird Dave” Yankovich is an Ohio resident who moved to the district this spring.
Paul Ryan won his last election by a 35 point margin.
(Oh, and Paul Nehlen is back for another quixotic primary scampaign against Ryan. Evidently he spent all the money he fleeced from his contributors in his last bid and needs to pay the bills for the next two years.)
Conservatives will have a new candidate for Supreme Court on the ballot next spring, while two liberals are contending for what will now be an open seat.
Yesterday, conservative Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman announced he would not seek re-election, taking many by surprise. Gableman is currently serving his first 10-year term on the court after defeating incumbent Louis Butler in 2008, the first time an incumbent justice was unseated in more than 40 years.
Indications are that Gableman won’t step down early, which would allow Gov. Walker to appoint a replacement, which would potentially give a replacement an advantage in next spring’s election.
In what was clearly a joke, Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Martha Laning greeted Gableman’s announcement by stating, “conservative candidates are clearly becoming intimidated by the strength of our operation.”
Two liberals are already running for Gableman’s seat – Madison lawyer Tim Burns and Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet. Both spoke at the DPW state convention, contrasting themselves with Gableman.
Conservatives, then, were seemingly without a candidate for all of one day. But today, Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Michael Screnock announced his candidacy. In a statement announcing his candidacy, Screnock said:
“I want to thank Justice Gableman for his service to the Wisconsin judiciary and his commitment to the rule of law. I share that commitment along with the belief that it is the role of a judge to say what the law is and not what it should be,” said Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Michael Screnock. “Judges must respect the different roles of the court and legislature and should not legislate from the bench.”
While Screnock will run as an impartial jurist who will “say what the law is and not what it should be,” the liberals in the race are unabashed in advertising that they will be overtly political on the bench. “The political values of judges matter, and I’m the candidate in this race who values workers and rebuilding the middle class,” Madison lawyer Tim Burns said.
If Burns wants to “value workers” and “rebuild the middle class” regardless of the facts of individual cases in front of him, he should run for a legislative seat instead of Supreme Court. His statement is clearly a broadside against historic reforms like Gov. Walker’s Act 10 and right to work.
Screnock, meanwhile, has been a steadfast defender of conservative reforms and causes, not just with words but with action. Take it from the AP’s Scott Bauer:
Newly announced Supreme Court candidate Screnock was part of conservative legal teams that defended Act 10, GOP senators up for recall and..
— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) June 16, 2017
Screnock also defended Republican-drawn maps under redistricting. Screnock announced his run for Wisconsin Supreme Court today
— Scott Bauer (@sbauerAP) June 16, 2017
Judges can have a political ideology, but advertising that their political ideology will guide their decisions is a play to the liberal base, which prefers to have their justice served with a heavy seasoning of left-wing ideology.
The election for Supreme Court is next April.
Following the Democratic Party of Wisconsin convention, two potential candidates for governor are gaining increasing notice as the party struggles to find a challenger to face Gov. Walker next year.
One is an outstate Democrat popular among the progressive grassroots who might have an incentive to leave the legislature, and the other is a Madison socialist stalwart who, while a longshot and already being dismissed, might be a dark horse.
State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, of Alma, is the Democrats’ preference, according to WisPolitics.com:
More than a third of Democratic Party of Wisconsin conventioneers voting in a WisPolitics.com straw poll favored state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout for the party’s 2018 gubernatorial nomination.
Vinehout, of Alma, was favored by 184, or 38 percent, of the 489 delegates, alternates and registered guests who voted in the straw poll. State Rep. Dana Wachs, of Eau Claire, was backed by 61, or 13 percent.
Bob Harlow, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in California last year, is the only announced Democratic candidate for governor. He received less than 1 percent of the vote.
Vinehout, in her third term as a state senator from western Wisconsin, was weighing a 2014 bid for governor when she was involved in a car crash and decided against a run as she recovered from her injuries. She also sought the party’s nomination in the 2012 recall attempt of Gov. Scott Walker, finishing a distant third in the Democratic primary with 4 percent of the vote.
One-third is a pretty convincing number for a straw poll, especially considering that Bob Harlow, the only declared Democrat for governor so far, got just one percent. Harlow is a 25-year-old who ran for Congress last year – in California.
If she’s taking all the governor talk seriously – and there’s every reason to think she is considering she has already sought the Dem nomination once – Vinehout has a tough decision to make. Her seat is up again in 2018, so if she runs for re-election, she will be gambling that it won’t be another good year for Republicans.
If 2018 looks anything like 2016, Vinehout could lose re-election.
But if she runs for governor, despite her pluses, she will be walking into a bandsaw – the well-funded, well-oiled, experienced Walker re-election machine.
Why should she be an appealing candidate for the Dems to rally behind? She’s popular among the progressive grassroots – not just in Madison, but statewide. Hailing from Alma, she’s from a rural district along the Mississippi in western Wisconsin, which would immediately render any attack against her as being a “Madison liberal” useless.
She’s possibly the one Democrat from outside the Madison-Milwaukee stretch who stands a chance (Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson recently made a fool out of himself by trying to confront Gov. Walker in a phony, staged stunt where he crashed one of the governor’s press conferences. Having lost in a landslide to Mike Gallagher for Congress in a historically swing district, it’s a good bet that any statewide ambitions he might’ve had are toast).
Vinehout also has a folksy, down-to-earth style and likes to run a grassroots-driven campaign. As is the longstanding tradition of campaigning in that part of the state, she’s been successful because the people have met her and see her as one of them. That would be a problem if the Democrats nominate another standard liberal from a major market.
That said, Vinehout’s hold on her seat is potentially tenuous. In 2014, she held on against Republican Mel Pittman with just 52.5 percent. That’s typically “safe enough,” but Pittman – a very nice guy in my experience – just wasn’t exactly the most dynamic challenger imaginable. Her district, Senate District 31, is also trending Republican. After her near scrape with Pittman, the 31st became one of 710 state legislative districts that swung from Obama to Trump in 2016.
Also, the only incumbent Democratic Assemblyman to lose his seat in 2016 was Chris Danou. His former Assembly district, now represented by Republican Treig Pronschinske, makes up a geographically significant chunk of Vinehout’s district.
While Vinehout would have to hope for a good year for Democrats if she runs for re-election, and might have solid statewide appeal even if 2018 isn’t a wave year for Democrats, another candidate floating his potential candidacy would have to ride a wave – and might just have the socialist street cred to fire up the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin – a socialist septuagenarian (age 72) who pours himself into the mold of Bernie Sanders – is also now considering running. Soglin, who has a J.D. from UW-Madison, has been the mayor of Wisconsin’s most liberal city on-and-off for decades. Per the Wisconsin State Journal:
A longtime stalwart of Madison’s political scene, Soglin, 72, got his start in activism in the civil rights movement and antiwar protests of the 1960s. He first was elected to office as a city councilman in 1968.
Since then Soglin has served three stints as Madison mayor: from 1973–79, 1989-97 and again from 2011 to the present. He was re-elected in 2015 and his current term ends in 2019.
If he were the Dem nominee, Soglin could complete a Democratic trifecta of Madison attorneys running for statewide office. Josh Kaul, son of former attorney general Peg Lautenschlager and a Madison lawyer, is running for AG against Brad Schimel. Tim Burns, another Madison lawyer, is running for state Supreme Court against conservative justice Michael Gableman.
The solution to Dem woes in statewide elections is often said to be recruiting a progressive candidate from outstate – like Vinehout – instead of clinging to creatures of liberal enclaves – the epitome of which is Soglin.
Walker and other Republicans have said the Democrats’ nominating Soglin, who they would certainly write off as a far-left Madison radical, would be a godsend. But Soglin might be onto something when he cites Sanders’ dominating performance in Wisconsin in the Democratic primary as a reason he’s looking at a run.
While it’s certainly difficult to imagine Soglin defeating Walker under any normal scenario, he could pose a real threat under certain conditions:
- A bad midterm cycle for the party in unified control both in Wisconsin and Washington (the GOP), as is often the case.
- A candidate who can unite the far-left (a la Sanders) and drive turnout in liberal bastions like, eh hem, Madison.
- Continued turmoil and squabbling among Republicans in Madison.
Add to that a dark horse candidate who is clearly not taken seriously, a demoralized and possibly sleepy, complacent conservative base, and a fired up left-wing base, and it’s not completely impossible to envision a way for a candidate like Soglin to win, especially if the zeitgeist swings to the left in 2018.
If I were Republicans, I wouldn’t be dismissing any candidate – nor would I be broadcasting to the base that “we got this” – no matter who the Democrats nominate.
Update: To assume Paul Soglin would have the Madison progressive vote on lock is evidently off the mark. I’ve heard from several people much more familiar with City of Madison politics than myself that Soglin is hardly a hero among the left in the state’s capital, despite having been elected the city’s mayor three times over the decades.
That makes any quest by Soglin to gain the Dems’ nomination a bit more quixotic.
Is it possible that no viable candidate will step up to challenge Scott Walker for the governor’s mansion in 2018? Well, after what passes for the Democrat Party bench in Wisconsin ran for the hills en masse, one more high profile name declared his intent to sit this one out – Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
From our friends at Media Trackers:
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin bristles at the notion that it is in disarray. But that denial comes at roughly the same time as news that one of their highest profile potential candidates to challenge Republican Governor Scott Walker in 2018 is taking a pass. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said Tuesday he will not be running for governor in 2018. Most political observers, both left and right, felt Parisi was a lock to seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Walker. Instead, Parisi joins a growing list of names who will skip the 2018 governor’s race.
Parisi’s announcement comes after Rep. Ron Kind, state Sen. Jennifer Shilling, former state Sen. Tim Cullen, and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele all bowed out, leaving the party with no candidate with even a modicum of untarnished statewide name ID. Susan Happ, Jefferson County DA who ran a failed bid for Attorney General, hasn’t bowed out yet.
Bader also raises an interesting question. If the Dems can’t shake another business person out of the bush (a la Mary Burke – we saw how that turned out) or cajole someone like state Rep. Dana Wachs into launching himself into a highly unlikely campaign, then they just might be stuck with Bob Harlow, the 25-year-old who ran a failed bid for Congress in 2016…in California.
The Journal Sentinel is also reporting that a Milwaukee businessman, Andy Gronik, 59, also personally funded a poll that compared him to Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and Parisi. In an inauspicious turn, the out-of-state polling firm referred to Wisconsinites as “Wisconsinians,” the JS’s Dan Bice reported. Bice wrote, “Think of him as Mary Burke 2.0, but with a skinnier wallet and and less public service experience.”
The poll didn’t ask about Wachs or Happ.
Vinehout, who is up for re-election in 2018 in an increasingly Republican district (her Senate district contains the only seat where a Republican ousted a Democratic incumbent in the Assembly, and she squeaked out a win over Mel Pittman in 2012), is still in the running.
Will Vinehout eschew a potentially tough re-election bid and run for governor instead?
Just as Republicans around the state were getting all excited about Nicole Schneider, it seems they may have been taken for a ride.
Schneider, the heiress of the Schneider National trucking fortune, was supposedly considering a run for U.S. Senate against Tammy Baldwin. Her appeal was chiefly that she could self-fund an expensive campaign.
But as it seems to always do, Schneider’s social media history can’t hide. Judging by some of her past activity, she may not be all that conservative at all. From Vicki McKenna’s website:
Yesterday, Mediatrackers broke this story about a woman named Nicole Schneider running for US Senate against Tammy Baldwin. See that story HERE.OK FINE. But IS SHE REALLY A REPUBLICAN? Or is she just a faker? Well, you be the judge. Here are links to her now DELETED tweets on everything from abortion and Planned Parenthood to Transphobia to like Tammy Baldwin, Hillary and Elizabeth Warren…to hating on Trump. It’s a pile of anti-conservative stuff that for reasons only SHE knows, she doesn’t want anyone to see.Here is her now deleted post on “How to be a Social Justice Ally: Working from and Against Privilege”.
Here are some deleted Tweets. In these, she is critical of Gov Walker, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump–while seemingly praising Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and Tammy Baldwin. Oh and she also seems to dislike SODA CONSUMPTION (!!) (By the way, ma’am, I’m a Catholic and I voted for Trump!)
Schneider has since deleted the tweets, but Vicki preserves them at the links above. Is Schneider a bona fide RINO? (a pejorative that gets tossed around far too often by people who can’t handle disagreement and believe everyone should agree with them…a paradox for an individualist ideology that stands opposed to homogeneity and collectivism. But I digress).
I don’t want to make any definitive conclusions about Ms. Schneider or her politics. I’ve been asked, after all, why I like this Democrat’s Facebook page or why I follow that progressive on Twitter by people who don’t really know their way around social media. People are also dynamic, and Trump a lightning rod who I’ve also criticized. However, Republican voters should use caution that Schneider might be an opportunist who doesn’t actually share many of their positions on the issues.
Now that Sean Duffy is officially out of contention, Republicans are starting to line up for the chance to take on Baldwin, who is widely seen as potentially vulnerable, especially after she locks arms with other Democrats and opposes the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. She’s also in hot water over her handling of the Tomah VA “Candy Land” scandal.
Wisconsinites have little patience for political grandstanding, and even less patience for politicians who leave veterans hanging out to dry – then pins the blame on a staffer and offers her hush money.
Names often bandied about as potential challengers for Baldwin are state Sen. Leah Vukmir, state Rep. Dale Kooyenga, hedge fund manager Eric Hovde, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Marine veteran/businessman Kevin Nicholson (who recently got the endorsement of mega-donor Dick Uihlein).
What the GOP needs to avoid at all costs, however, is a replay of the 2012 GOP primary, variously comparable to a circular firing squad, bloodbath, melee, or train wreck. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson emerged so badly injured from the primary, he had practically no money, while Baldwin had an entire summer to raise cash and plot her messaging.
It took Senator Tammy Baldwin precisely 0.64 seconds to completely reverse her position on the Senate’s duty to “advise and consent” on presidential Supreme Court appointments. That’s about how long it took for President Trump to utter the name “Judge Neil Gorsuch.”
In 2016, when a nominee of President Obama was forced to sit in the proverbial waiting room for most of the year, Baldwin joined the chorus of feigned outrage from the left. But now that a new president – one who she doesn’t like as much – has made a nomination of his own, she’s completely reversed her position by supporting a filibuster to clog up the pipeline to the high court.
A new Politifact column declares Baldwin’s new position to be a full flip-flop. When Politifact calls out a Democrat, you know the case must be airtight. They write:
When [Merrick] Garland was nominated in March 2016, Republicans moved to block his nomination, which prompted the ire of Democrats.
Baldwin declared: “It’s the constitutional duty of the president to select a Supreme Court nominee, and the Senate has a responsibility to give that nominee a fair consideration with a timely hearing and a timely vote.”
But now that Baldwin is in the minority and facing a Republican nominee, she is supporting a filibuster that creates a roadblock to reaching that final vote. Her claim to “support” a cloture vote makes no sense since that isn’t up to her party — cloture would be pushed by Republicans and is only needed if Baldwin and other Democrats pursue a filibuster.
On the day Trump announced his nomination of Gorsuch, Baldwin said she would give him a fair hearing, but apparently she immediately suffered a severe case of amnesia and declared two days later her intention to vote against Gorsuch – before ever meeting with him. The hypocrisy didn’t slip past Governor Walker:
Hypocrisy: telling others to meet with #SCOTUS nominee in 2016, but announcing your vote on nominee in 2017 before a meeting.
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) February 3, 2017
President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court last March following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In the spirit of Obama’s own “elections have consequences” declaration, the Republican-controlled Senate decided not to take action on the Garland nomination. They cited a longstanding precedent that a lifetime appointment to the high court shouldn’t be made in the waning months of a presidency.
As the election’s outcome made plain, the argument seems to have held true that a Supreme Court nominee in the last few months of a president’s term might not reflect the sentiment of the time, and many voters made their decision in large measure because of the grave importance of who would fill the Scalia seat.
And of course, after the election of now-President Trump and the glorious departure of Obama, Garland packed his bags. Trump selected Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee on January 31.
Suddenly, Democrats whose hair was ablaze at the GOP’s refusal to hold hearings and an “up or down” vote on Garland…well, their hair is still ablaze, except now they’re angry the American people elected a Republican president and dashed their hopes of regaining control of the Senate.
The halls of Congress reek with hypocrisy. Suddenly, Democrats like Baldwin who hugged the Constitution while demanding a “timely hearing and a timely vote” on Garland are now hell bent on doing everything possible to stop Gorsuch – by all measures one of most qualified candidates for the Supreme Court imaginable and as close a fit to the strict constructionist, originalist judicial philosophy for which Justice Scalia was legendary.
In fact, Gorsuch has famously said that a judge who likes all the outcomes of his or her decisions is not a good judge – judges should apply the rule of law objectively, not manipulate it to create outcomes they like. This speaks volumes about Gorsuch’s sterling character – and Democrats’ rabid opposition to him speaks volumes about theirs.
For their part, the Republicans argue that, unlike their opposition to Garland, blocking a SCOTUS nomination made literally within days of a new president’s inauguration is unprecedented. That’s not stopping Democrat Senators from flip-flopping en masse like a sinking boatload of wet waffles – even some from states Trump won, like Wisconsin.
Baldwin’s staff is trying hard to muddy the waters with as much double-speak as they can muster, but Politifact does an excellent job of cutting through the nonsense her office is putting out:
In an email, Baldwin spokesman John Kraus said the senator’s position is consistent because she supported a hearing, a committee vote and a floor vote for both nominees.
Politifact goes through the byzantine Senate rules behind the filibuster to explain why Baldwin is a hypocrite. Essentially, a filibuster is the use of Senate rules to create a debate of infinite duration, thereby blocking any final vote on the nominee (only in Washington, eh?). A filibuster can be stopped by the use of cloture, a vote that sets a limit on debate – that vote requires 60 votes, so Democrats theoretically have enough votes to stand in the way.
The Baldwin spokesman slyly told Politifact that the senator supports a vote for cloture, but since she’s in the minority, her party wouldn’t even be in a position to make such a motion. Her position on cloture is as meaningful as my position on the clothing lines at Kohl’s. Politifact explains further:
But cloture is a maneuver executed by the majority party (Republicans in this case), so Baldwin’s “support” for that is both unnecessary and irrelevant.
The filibuster/cloture tactic has only been used four times for nominees to the Supreme Court since 1968 – and this one would be in the first few months of a presidency. The obstructionism and the hypocritical double-speak to justify it is hard to fathom. Fortunately, the Republicans can and might (and should) simply change Senate rules (with a simple majority vote) to eliminate the 60-vote cloture requirement for Supreme Court nominees.
The Democrats used this “nuclear option” for lower court nominees, presumably to get judges approved and keep the courts moving effectively. Since the Supreme Court is, well, the supreme court, it stands to reason that using the nuclear option to get Gorsuch approved is of even more supreme importance and even more supremely logical.
Elections do have consequences, and unfortunately for obstructionist Democrats like Tammy Baldwin, Justice Neil Gorsuch will be one of them.
The La Crosse Tribune revealed a stunning new change in Rep. Ron Kind’s strategy today after multiple stories have been surfaced about the 20-year congressman’s potential 2018 plans.
The Tribune revealed today that Kind plans to hold office hours at various locations within the district in order to connect with constituents. Reports the Tribune:
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind has announced plans to make his staff available to constituents in each of the 18 counties of Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District over the next two weeks.
No doubt, throughout the land triumphant flourishes permeated village squares and Walmart parking lots at the news that Kind’s staff plans to hold office hours on Feb. 28, March 1, March 2, March 3, March 7 – all at various locations throughout the Third congressional district.
Reports of Kind now holding office hours in his district come after questions emerged about his potential run for governor. We speculated about the possibility that he might run for governor and took a look at whether the GOP is planning to seriously target his district in 2018. Is Kind trying to build support for a run for governor, or – more likely – shore up his image as a constituent-connector?
Is holding office hours – a top-flight story in his hometown newspaper – a sign that the congressman has changed strategy in order to emit an appearance of increased constituent relations? Or perhaps it’s a complete coincidence.
The people of Kind’s district, nonetheless, are no doubt honored that their congressman has bestowed upon them an opportunity for even the briefest of hearings, even if the precious opportunity precipitated upon them from on high only upon chatter that the screws might be tightening on his comfortable position in the next election cycle.
Funny how politics works.