The Political Landscape Of Wisconsin

It is almost a trite comment, but in the Badger State this November it is all about turnout, turnout, turnout. With red meat issues on the ballot due to the Republican’s fixation on healthy gay relationships and the death penalty the outcome on Election day is very much in doubt.

The GOP controlled State Legislature placed the marriage ban on the ballot to increase the desire of conservatives to come out and vote.  Problem is they passed a stinker of a referendum that not only echos existing law in State Statutes (that is the crass hateful politics of the matter) but also outlaws civil unions and creates real potential difficulties regarding legal protections for any unmarried couples in Wisconsin. (I plan several pieces on this matter as we head to Election Day.)

The death penalty also found its way to the fall ballot.  Nothing excites the pro-life conservatives and the right-wing like a good ole killing at state expense.  The fabric of our state is shredding and becoming callous and cold as the result of the GOP led Legislature.

While there is no chance for the State Assembly to change party control there is an outside chance the Democrats can wrestle control of the State Senate.  The GOP holds 11 of the 17 Senate seats up for election and roughly six of these are competitive.

One of the possible pickups for the Democratic Party is Dave Zien from the 23rd Senate District.  I used to think he was the ‘wack job” of the Wisconsin GOP until Tom Reynolds came on the scene.  But Zien gets runner-up status with his crafty style of manipulating per-diem, (the state paid more than $7,000 above what it should for his claims) grabbing every extreme right-wing idea and frothing over it while making outlandish comments.

This election his hope of running again as an ‘outsider’ will face a real test since he is now clearly an ‘insider’ as part of the Senate leadership.  Democrats have a savvy candidate n Pat Kreitlow, who has a command of English (being a TV news anchor) and seems quite bright and level headed.  It must be refreshing for the citizens of western Wisconsin to think they might have a credible person without a crazed ego trip mentality representing them in Madison.

If there is an upset it will take place in the 17th Senate District where Dale Schultz faces a tough race.  Being Majority Leader he has had to battle the more strident members of his caucus and the time he has had to shore up his position in Madison has detracted from his constituents in Western Wisconsin. 

After a spirited (to be far too polite) primary battle for Attorney General two of the four scarred candidates will emerge in mid-September.  (A personal endorsement comes on this site next week.)  Regardless of the outcome in the primary one thing has crystallized in many citizen’s minds over the past months.  That is given what the GOP offers with their candidates it is imperative that Democrats unite and support our eventual nominee. 

Yesterday the State Elections Board ordered Mark Green, GOP candidate for Governor to return $468,000 of political action committee campaign contributions.  As a Congressman he was raking in large amounts of cash to his federal fund, and then converted it all to his state race.  That is not allowed here.  But the brash son-of-a-bitch says his campaign will not give back any of the money.  I think this was a dreadful mistake for the Green campaign as it takes them off their own shaky mantle of being high-minded and ethical.  The Green campaign just got in the same ethical ditch that Doyle lives in and can no longer claim to be better in any way.

While Governor Jim Doyle is roughly 10 points ahead of  Green the race will be a nail biter as the polls close fast within weeks.  If I were advising the Governor I would urge an all out assault on Green over stem cells.  It is an issue that works across all political lines and poll after poll shows wide support for this research.

Less than 70 days to go and enough hot topics to last every minute of that time.

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