The Art Of Conceding An Election Not Understood By Rep. Adam Jarchow

I deeply respect the handshakes and quick banter that two professional tennis players allow each other following a mentally and physically punishing game.  It is an honorable way to conclude the contest regardless of outcome.  When it comes to the end of a political campaign I also desire to see the best of one’s character shine.

Over the years I have been able to see in real time how a concession is handled, while more often reading or watching such a happening through the media.  But in each case a concession following a hard-fought campaign shows the mettle of a person perhaps better than any other facet of seeking office.

This comes to mind as State Assemblyman Adam Jarchow was reported to have tweeted his concession last week to the victorious Patty Schachtner following the special state senate election. I grasp the fact that everything these days is seemingly done on the gadget people carry around like aged smokers do their oxygen tanks.  But when it comes to concessions there is a need to be personal and more forthright.  Surely the phone number for the opposing campaign was available.  Call me old-fashioned but just pick up the phone and place the call!

The morning following the 1988 election victory of State Representative Lary Swboda the phone rang in his Kewaunee County home.  I had worked in the district often that fall on the campaign and as I stood in the kitchen as Lary answered the call I was privy to one of the gracious acts of politics.  Bob Papke, then Door County Clerk, had run, up to that time, the most expensive race for the state assembly.  He had been condescending and rather mean-spirited during the months leading to Election Day.  But on the phone as Papke spoke to Lary there was a gentlemanly quality to the conversation and though the two would never be friends, an air of good sportsmanship was most apparent.

That type of concession was missing in the special U.S. Senate race this year as Roy Moore refused to understand his role as to why concessions matter.    And to show that I have no partisan stake regarding concessions let it be shown I also had words for not only a Democrat–but one I know and had supported–Kathleen Falk.  

I was very disappointed to have read that she did not show up on Election Night to greet campaign workers and countless Democrats who worked so very hard for her over the past many months.  On Election Night she did not need to concede, (given the closeness of the race) but did need to say thanks.  To stay at her home and watch the returns come in was not what many expected.

It is Saturday afternoon as I write this post, and I am unhappy that Kathleen has not conceded the race for Attorney General.  Being defeated in an election after a well-fought effort should not be an embarrassment.  But not being a better sport in the arena of politics is much worse than coming in second place.

The gracious nature of Vice-President Al Gore following the grueling legal wars of a recount in 2000 demonstrate the reasons character matters when it comes to our elections.  The same rules of the road apply in local elections, too.  Being graceful with concessions makes for a strong mark of character.

My Memories Of Presidential Candidates In Wisconsin

There was every reason to be focused today on the current presidential election as Air Force One landed at the Dane County Airport.  Thousands of enthusiastic people stood in line at UW-Madison to get a chance to get close to the staging area where President Obama pumped them up with stirring oratory, and important reasons to vote.

As all this played out today my mind kept bouncing back over the years since I moved to Madison over a quarter-century ago, and started to attend political rallies.  My interest in how the candidates operate, handle themselves, stage events, and construct their arguments never grows old.  Working at the Capitol allowed me to be near the events that took place as candidates came to make friends and seek votes.

But before I landed in Madison I was working at WDOR in Sturgeon Bay where I was dispatched to cover the Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro rally in Merrill, Wisconsin.

On Labor Day 1984 I was attending what would be the first major political rally of my life, and the first such large news story I would report on for WDOR news.  The second one was when President Reagan visited Oshkosh.

In 1984 I was young, eager, and so excited that I could barely contain myself.  Days before the event I had gone through a background check to gain press credentials which allowed me onto the risers with the national press.  Knowing I was going to stand alongside some of the journalists I had deep respect for was as electrifying to me as being at my first major political rally with a presidential nominee.

Once at the rally site I climbed to stand with the press and was truly pleased to be about three feet from Lynn Sherr and Brit Hume, both from ABC.  I smiled to myself when Sherr asked Hume how to pronounce “La Follette” and I then laughed out loud later than night when she mispronounced it on the national news.   Everyone has on-air slips, and it was comforting to see it play out in front of me.

To be honest being on the risers with the press could have been the culmination of the day and I would have been totally content.

When the music ramped up and Mondale and Ferraro took the simple outdoor platform and gave punchy dramatic stump speeches I knew at once that my political infection was for real.  Never before had I felt so alive.  So in the moment.

Over and over during the past decades I have been one fortunate man to be close to the ones that fascinate me.

From that list I have grabbed a few that stood out, and made me smile today.

In 1988 one of the nicest and most sincere of candidates ran for the presidency.

Illinois Senator Paul Simon was perhaps the most approachable politician I have ever met.  It was as if he worked on the Capitol Square and had just wandered over for an afternoon stroll with state workers.   He chatted and bantered as if he had known the folks who came to see him for many years.  Simon was an editor-publisher of a newspaper, and had liberal ideas.  Is there a better combination? There were many reasons I gravitated towards his candidacy.

I did not only attend Democratic events, but also wanted to witness the movers and shakers in the Republican Party.  I was very delighted to be able to get close to Vice-President Bush as he campaigned in the spring of 1988 in Madison.

It was a Saturday morning and I was standing along staunch Republicans while having the time of my life.  I had never before been so close to such a powerful figure.  I still recall, and there is no partisanship in this additional thought, but he had the softest hands on a man I have ever felt.

Of all the politicians I have seen over the years the one I saw most often was Bush 41.  My nephew Troy and I were able to shake hands with both President Bush and Barbara in Waukesha after a rally as we moved up to the rope line in 1992.

But the most politically romantic event was yet to come….

October 31, 1992, was a cold and blustery day across Wisconsin.  Light snow flurries swirled through the air as many thousands stood for hours at the old train depot in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.   The presidential campaign that year was winding down, and even though President Bush was campaigning with David McCullough’s latest book “Truman ” in his hand while reminding voters that he too could win the election as Harry did in 1948, the polls were all indicating the opposite.  In later news accounts and books all would discover that it was that frigid day in Wisconsin when President Bush was told of his fate by his internal pollsters.    In spite of that there were still campaign stops to be made, as Bush was traveling Wisconsin by train, while working over-time at trying to making his Truman moment come true.

I had secured enough tickets from a Republican friend at the Capitol for most of my entire family to be able to stand in the very front of the staging area at the Plover train depot.

My Mom and Dad surely had doubts about standing in line for several hours  to see the event, but I also know they loved it. They talked about that day for the rest of their lives.

In 1992 I attended a rally at the statehouse for Bill Clinton and Al Gore.  Months after the election the photographer for the Assembly Democratic Caucus came to my office and told me he had finally developed all the pictures he had taken the evening of the rally—and thought I might be interested in the one he then handed to me.

I treasure this picture very much.  I have outlined it for this post, and it shows me with my hand at the bottom of the blue line reaching up for Clinton’s hand.  I had the handshake of both Clinton and Gore that night.

In 2004 I was able to meet two of the candidates I much respected, and thought to be worthy of attaining the presidency.

For pure passion I felt Howard Dean was the best at presenting the feisty Democratic argument for why Bush 43 had to be defeated, but for the long-term race that was required from a nominee it was John Kerry that I placed my hopes in.

There is no way for me not to get rather nostalgic tonight as I think back to all the fun times and smiling faces of those I stood with as we watched and listened to the candidates.  There is something about the fall leaves and chill in the air every four years as candidates ask for our votes for the White House that lets me know how fortunate I have been to be able to see and hear so many of the contenders.

More importantly I am constantly reminded of the ones who put themselves in front of their fellow citizens with their candidacies in an attempt to make our country a better place to live.

For them and their service to this country I say thank you.

From 2010 at UW-Madison, Library Mall.

Ben Manski vs. Democrats, His Past Statements Not Forgotten

I have been amused this fall at how Ben Manski, who trashed Democrats over the years, is now asking for their votes come November.   In an attempt to win the 77th Assembly District, Manski seems to have forgotten the statements he made about the Democratic Party, and the candidates they placed before the voters .  Or perhaps I should say Manski is hoping the voters have forgotten those statements.  The Democratic voters to be more precise.

The real contest in this district is between Democratic nominee Brett Hulsey and Green Party nominee Masnki.  Voters on the near west side of Madison are being asked to fill the seat of retiring Rep. Spencer Black.  

My attention to this race is two-fold.  First I like Brett Hulsey.  Secondly, I am just perplexed how anyone who has made such incendiary remarks about the Democrats, such as Manski has, can then turn around and ask that party for their votes.  I have followed politics for years and seen just about everything.  But this assembly race intrigues me for the sheer audacity that Manski is using to try and get elected.

Whatever characteristic it takes to do that for an election is something I am pleased, quite frankly, not to posses.

The series of highly critical statements by Manski  about Democrats range from local leaders such as Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk all the way to presidential nominee Al Gore.   Manski’s words have blasted President Obama and even challenged Wisconsin gubernatorial nominee Tom Barrett.

I don’t consider Dave and Kathleen progressive Democrats,”

It is when Manski likens President Bush and Al Gore together that everyone who still gets the required amount of oxygen should become angry. (On both sides of the political aisle!)

Votes for Bush or Gore are votes for continued corporate domination, and an abdication of political responsibility.

Speaking at the South Central Federation of Labor meeting, September 20, 2010 Manski uttered “Tom Barrett is the lesser evil in this race.”

The ironic turn of events from Manski blasting Democrats to becoming cozy and friendly to gain Democratic votes is even more interesting given the electorate’s mood.  The voters seem to want a different approach to politics.  Being too cute by half  this year to get a vote is not the way to win an election.  

When it was convenient for Manski to denounce Democrats he never missed a chance to find a microphone.  Now he needs Democratic votes and must hope that all those he dissed over the years have forgotten.

Or forgiven.

Neither is true if my off-the-cuff chats with folks in-line at stores or while walking among the fall leaves are any indication.   It seems to me that the voters are very aware Manski is either trying to paper over his past remarks, or believes he can pull one over on the voters.

Manski should not be allowed to achieve this.

Since Manski is always preaching about the need for a better democracy perhaps this assembly race might be a good time to show that words and past deeds matter.

More Gore’s Seem Ready To Divorce

It’s becoming a family tradition.

Al and Tipper Gore aren’t the only ones in their family facing marital problems. 

The couple’s eldest daughter, Karenna Gore Schiff, 36, has separated from her husband of 12 years, Andrew Schiff, 44. The news, first reported by People Magazine, emerged a week after the former vice president announced he was separating from his wife of 40 years.

Photo: Gores' Eldest Daughter Karenna Separates from Husband of 12 Years: The News Comes a Week After Gores Announced The End of Their 40-Year Marriage

Karenna, the eldest of Gores’ four children, married Schiff on July 12, 1997 and they have three young children.

At times when kids go through a divorce they can at least find stability at the grandparents…..


Vice President Al Gore and Wife Tipper Gore to Split

This is sad.  And will I sound too self-righteous and bordering on puritanical if I say I find this shameful?  Yet this comes so out of right field and catches me off guard that I am stunned.  In this time when many in the nation can not get married for all sorts of bigoted reasons there are others who throw in the towel after 40 years of marriage.   It is an upside-down world.

In an email to friends Tuesday entitled “Email from Al and Tipper Gore,” the couple said: “We are announcing today that after a great deal of thought and discussion, we have decided to separate. “This is very much a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration. We ask for respect for our privacy and that of our family, and we do not intend to comment further.”

The e-mail, which was first reported by by Politico, was confirmed for ABC News by Gore spokesperson Kalee Kreider.

Kreider would not go beyond the text of the e-mail in explaining the reason for the separation.

The Gores just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary two weeks ago. They were married at the National Cathedral in Washington on May 19, 1970. They have four children.

Al Gore Writes From The Heart Over Gulf Oil Spill

A must read.

Just as the oil companies told us that deep-water drilling was safe, they tell us that it’s perfectly all right to dump 90 million tons of CO2 into the air of the world every 24 hours. Even as the oil spill continues to grow—even as BP warns that the flow could increase multi-fold, to 60,000 barrels per day, and that it may continue for months—the head of the American Petroleum Institute, Jack Gerard, says, “Nothing has changed. When we get back to the politics of energy, oil and natural gas are essential to the economy and our way of life.” His reaction reminds me of the day Elvis Presley died. Upon hearing the tragic news, Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, said, “This changes nothing.”

I am far from the only one who believes that it is not too much of a stretch to link the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and northwestern Pakistan—and even last week’s attempted bombing in Times Square—to a long chain of events triggered in part by our decision to allow ourselves to become so dependent on foreign oil.

Here at home, the illusion that we can meaningfully reduce our dependence on foreign oil by taking extraordinary risks to develop deep reserves in the Outer Continental Shelf is illuminated by the illustration below. The addition to oil company profits may be significant, but the benefits to our national security are trivial. Meanwhile, our increasing appetite for coal is also creating environmental and human catastrophes. The obscene practice known as “mountaintop mining,” for instance, is not only defacing the landscape of Appalachia but also destroying streams throughout the region and poisoning the drinking water of many communities.

Will The ‘Bradley Effect’ On Barack Obama Put Al Gore In The White House Campaign?

With the issues that face the nation as a result of Republican ineptitude along with their callous disregard for the truth, there is little reason that a Democratic nominee should not win the White House this year.  But as we prepare for about two more weeks of a bitter fight leading up to the primaries on May 6th between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, we know that this will only produce more dust and confusion about the outcome of this nominating process.  Democrats everywhere must wonder what is happening to our November goal?  More importantly what is running through the minds of the powerful forces that run the Democratic Party?

One of the concerns that many have talked about for weeks is the ‘Bradley Effect’, or the ‘Ford Effect’ named after two prominent black democratic candidates who found themselves wining in the polls only to face racism from voters in the voting booths.  Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and former Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. both had huge poll numbers as voters said they would vote for them.  They were on the way to winning as Governor of California and the Tennessee U.S. Senate seat respectively.  But once voters were in the privacy of the voting booth things changed.  America still has a very deep seated problem with racism.  We like to pretend we are above it in certain ways, but sadly we are not.  The results in the Pennsylvania Primary show us why that is true.

When exit polls for the Pennsylvania primary came out late Tuesday afternoon showing a puny lead of 3.6 points for Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama, Democratic leaders who desperately wanted her to end her candidacy were not cheered. They were sure that this overstated Sen. Obama’s strength, as exit polls nearly always have in urban, diverse states. How was it possible, then, that Sen. Clinton, given up for dead by her party’s establishment, won Pennsylvania in a 10-point landslide? The answer is the dreaded Bradley Effect.

Prominent Democrats only whisper when they compare Obama, the first African-American witha serious chance to be president, with what happened to Los Angeles’ black Mayor Tom Bradley a quarter of a century ago. Exit polls in 1982 showed Bradley ahead for governor of California, but he actually lost to Republican George Deukmejian. Pollster John Zogby (who correctly predicted Clinton’s double-digit win Tuesday) said what practicing Democrats would not. “I think voters face-to-face are not willing to say they would oppose an andan African-American candidate,” Zogby told me.

If there really is a Bradley Effect in 2008, Zogby sees November peril ahead for Obama in blue states. John McCain is a potential winner not only in Pennsylvania but also Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and can retain Ohio. But there seems no way Clinton can overtake Obama’s lead in delegates and the popular vote. For unelected super-delegates to deprive Obama of the nomination would so depress African-American general election votes that the nomination would be worthless. In a year when all normal political indicators point to Republican defeat on all fronts, the Democratic Party faces a deepening dilemma.

As Democrats ponder this situation there is again the idea that perhaps a third way can be found to stir all the hearts of the Democratic Party and bring unity for the fall campaign.  That way is found in the candidacy of Al Gore.  After all, he won the White House once before.

In the wake of Barack Obama’s defeat in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, the Democrats have a huge problem. On the one hand, they have a front-runner who hasn’t won a single one of the major primary states other than his own, who’s a neophyte on the national scene, and who has enormous difficulties attracting the white, non-college educated voters he needs to win. On the other, there’s Hillary Clinton – a candidate who has greatly diminished her stature on the campaign trail, who faces huge liabilities of her own (in part because of her gender and in part because of Clinton fatigue), and whose chances of winning in November would require her to thread an Electoral College needle.

Furthermore, the long, bitter campaign has produced an untenable result: a large portion of each camp’s supporters now say they are unlikely to support the intra-party rival should their candidate not win the nomination.

Therefore, if the Democrats want to have their best chance to win an election in November that six months ago it looked like they couldn’t lose, they may have only one option at this point: they can turn to Al Gore.

In truth, Gore would be a stronger candidate in November than the two front-runners. He knows what it’s like to run in a tough presidential campaign, which, as we’re finding out with Obama, is a huge advantage. He is, after all, a Nobel Prize winner; he has the advantage of now running from outside Washington even though he’s as experienced as John McCain; and he might be able to pick off a Southern state or two. He’s already won once – with an asterisk. And he could put the electoral focus back on the economy and the Republican record of the past eight years – which it will rarely be as long as Clinton or Obama is the nominee.

Sure, Gore’s entry would obviously not be greeted with waves of enthusiasm by Obamasupporters. Still, he is quite popular with one of the Illinois senator’s principal constituencies: the young.

Where the Democratic Party heads, and on what shoulders the responsibilities will be placed, is not certain this morning by any means.  But the needs of the nation are paramount.  The removal of the entire Bush and Company team and mentality must be our goal this year.

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Al Gore: A New Powerful Slideshow About Climate Change

I am not sure how wide spread this video has been distributed, but I feel it is so well done with such a powerful message, that I wanted it here on my site regardless where else it may be posted.  I found Gore’s message so remarkable due to the angle that he takes on climate change.  The ‘democracy crisis’ must be addressed so that the climate changes can be addressed.  A mission of a whole generation is required to do the work to save the planet.  This is worth your time, and I know you will feel rewarded as a result of watching.  I ask that you pass this video around to friends.  Need not be my site….just get the Al Gore video out to the world.

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