Political Predictions And A Few Thoughts On Primary Election 2014

As I heard the prediction that roughly 15% of the Wisconsin electorate would come out to vote on Primary Day 2014 I tried to think of ways that dismal number might be improved upon over time.  The best idea I can offer is simple and admittedly will take time for its impact to be felt.  Yet we need to try to make a difference.

Voting needs to be seen by the newest generation as something that is done with pride and a dose of civic responsibility.  As such I think it important that parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles take their kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews with them when they cast a ballot.    Have a chat with that young person about the role that voting plays in our nation, and the power that comes with such an action. There is no way that anyone can be proud to hear or read that only 15% of the state can find the time to do their duty as citizens.

When it comes to the races that are dotting the state one thing is clear.  Politics is never dull.  There have been a host of truly interesting people trying to make a point about why they should be elected.  With the power that comes from the people there is a good chance that in some cases the chaff will indeed be winnowed from the wheat.

While there is no doubt that Mary Burke will be nominated as the Democratic candidate for governor there is the question of what words might challenger Brett Hulsey use after the race is over.   While there are no voters that Hulsey can bring with him to the cause of electing Burke, and there is no credibility that Hulsey has to offer for the fall campaign I still am old-fashioned enough to want–even with all the cheap theatre we have witnessed from Hulsey–a few words of support and good cheer for the fall race.  I still want our politics to resemble something akin to the way it once was in this state.  Let that come about in some classy ending to the Hulsey campaign with a concession speech that aims for the high road.

The seat that Brett Hulsey is vacating has produced a truly engaging election between Lisa Subeck and Mark Clear in the 78th Assembly District.  I started out thinking that Subeck might have a smoother time of winning, but found her campaign aimed more for the partisan nature of the contest, and while that is fine for the campaign I am not at all certain she has what is needed when it comes to working under the dome with folks from the other side of the aisle.  I have had differences with positions taken with Clear while serving on the Madison City Council, but I always found him able to cross over and work with others when the job demanded that to happen.  While I like those with political spunk such as Subeck has in spadesful I also understand the need for compromise and the need for working coalitions in the assembly in order to make government function.  Clear will win the election.

I have hope for Dodgeville Mayor Todd Novak when it comes to the 51st Assembly District for the strangest of reasons.  He has a long backstory as editor of the Dodgeville Chronicle, and there are some nostalgic notions that I still want to be true about a candidate with such a platform who can bring the needs of his constituents to Madison and work to make government more responsive.  He is also the first openly gay Republican candidate for the assembly in our state’s history.  Several weeks ago I sat down with his campaign manager on my front lawn and discussed this race.  I liked the upbeat can-do energy that was displayed, and think it bodes well for the GOP, and also for the rest of us.   If anyone still needs to be convinced that society is changing let them pay attention to the vote tally Tuesday night from this assembly district.  At the end of the evening when Novak wins all can be proud of the progress we are making.

State Representative Jon Richards will win the nomination for attorney general in spite of the last minute television blitz from Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ.  I like Happ and think she has an interesting story to tell and does so in a very attractive way.  But I still feel that old-style organizing is the best route to secure a nomination in a low-voter turnout and as such consider Richards well positioned to win.  He has a strong county-by-county operation and is poised to pounce on his Republican opponent with vigor in the fall election.  There is no doubt Richards is best suited to present the state with a key Democratic pick-up in November.  Dane County D.A. Ismael Ozanne left me underwhelmed and never once made me feel he was really in the ballgame.

There is only one person who can win the 17th Senate District for the Democrats this fall, and that is Ernie Wittwer.  He is experienced and seasoned in that way which takes time after living in an area and knowing the people and the way of the electorate.   Wittwer spent 24 years with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation as budget director, division administrator and chief of staff.  While Pat Bomhack is politically aggressive and clearly desiring office there is no way not to feel that he has political handlers in Madison.  That is not the way to win in this district.  Wittwer needs to win this primary if Democrats are to win this seat in November.  Period.  I predict Wittwer wins.

In the 21st Senate District there is a contest to see if Republicans really eat their own.   It has been ugly to watch as Van Wanggaard has had to defend his already conservative credentials from an even harder-right-edged Jonathan Steitz.   Democrat John Lehman had won the seat in the 2012 recall election over incumbent Van Wanggaard, but with redistricting now making the contest uncompetitive called it quits.   Therefore Wanggaard wants his old job back, and I hope he gets its over the red-meat anger that has come out in this contest.   But in a low turn-out election the angry ones seem to always vote, and so I predict Steitz wins.

When it comes to congressional primaries the one that gets the most ink is the 6th Congressional District where three legislators are competing to replace Tom Petri.   Sens. Joe Leibham and Glenn Grothman and Rep. Duey Stroebel played fast and furious and aimed for the red-meat crowd with impeachment talk and failing to talk issues at League of Women venues.  The hearts of the voters may be with Grothman as he talks like many of them think, but somewhere pragmatism will force the hand in the ballot box and Strobel will win.  I had once thought Leibham could prevail but I am thinking money is playing more of a role in the final days of this race and that is going to make the difference in a low turn-out race.

Meanwhile in the 4th Congressional District Gwen Moore will secure a solid win over disgraced Gary George who was convicted in 2004 of one felony count of conspiring to defraud the government. He spent four years in federal prison.  I do believe in the power of redemption.  But I was also not born last month.

Two Democrats are running for Wisconsin State Treasurer, and I predict  Dave Leeper will defeat David L. Sartori.   I have no thoughts on the Republican Primary.  Meanwhile I do think Garey Bies defeats Julian Bradley as he seeks to become the Secretary of State.  Doug La Follette is ready for the fall race.

Now go and do your duty wherever you live, and take a kid with you and explain why it matters.

How Brett Hulsey Campaigns For Governor In Downtown Madison

Wow.  Just wow.


Candidate Brett Hulsey Unveils Jobs Plan

Hidden among the other news stories this morning was the apparent jobs plan that Democratic candidate for governor Brett Hulsey wants us all to be aware of as we ponder his political fate.

As nomination signatures were turned in for the races to be decided in both the primary and general elections this year came the news that Hulsey needed extra help in getting his papers circulated.

Hulsey acknowledged paying homeless people with felony convictions $13 an hour to collect signatures for him, but said they were no longer on parole.

I think it grand that homeless people were able to find a part-time job, and Hulsey was able to put them to work.  One has to ask, however, if all those who did circulate papers were legally able to do so as there is no way that anyone can take Hulsey’s word.

Since there is no political base that Hulsey could turn to for support in getting his signatures he resorted to whatever he could find.    All this just underscores the ridiculous nature of his theatrics, and also those who for whatever reason signed his papers.

No one can possibly think that Hulsey has the mental stability to be a candidate much less the top elected official in the state.  The issues we face from education, health care, and real job creation are too serious to sign anyone’s papers who does not posses the potential to be someone who can move our state forward or who we can be proud of when it comes to our political process.

There are clearly some serious personal issues at the center to Hulsey’s behavior.  Equally troubling is that others encourage him and use him as a public fool by signing his nomination papers.  That is not in the best interest of our state, and certainly not in the best interest of a very troubled man.

Newspaper’s Letter To Editor Page Is Comical

First let me say that I love folks who read a newspaper.  I love even more those who think and ponder the issues.  And even more so I love those who take the time to pen a Letter To The Editor.

In others words I love folks like Clara Landon of Bloomington.

But when I read the last lines of her letter that appeared in today’s Wisconsin State Journal I had to laugh.  After all Brett Hulsey made for quite a different type of reaction yesterday on this blog.  It should be noted that Landon wrote her letter prior to the KKK mess.

Landon ended her letter this way.

We needed the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt to continue. Or Bill Clinton. We had too little of John F. Kennedy. I like Barack Obama, but I’m disappointed.

So Mr. Hulsey, I’m ready for you.

Brett Hulsey Shows He Has No Class With KKK Stunt

While I think the Republican Party often has policies that harm minorities, and while I know some members of the Tea Party are racists I do not think it acceptable to label all members of the GOP as anything resembling the Ku Klux Klan.

But that is not the way candidate for governor Brett Hulsey sees it.

Today the state representative showed up at the Capitol press room to announce his intention to attend the Republican State Convention this weekend and hand out KKK hats.   He made one such hat on his daughter’s sewing machine, and apparently will be sewing all night long to get enough ready for the throngs that show up for the convention.

I have heard of stunts–we all have–to garner attention for a campaign that has no where to go except into oblivion.  But I have never heard of a stunt that so cheapens the character of the candidate as much as what Hulsey is doing.

The last thing this state needs is yet another attempt at lowering of the bar for what passes as politics in the state.    There are disagreements among the two political parties–make that severe disagreements.    But on one thing I suspect all are united when we say to Brett Hulsey ‘Sit down, and shut up’!

Brett Hulsey once had a chance to make a difference in politics but for reasons that seem unclear took a different path that has now made him worse than laughable.  He is toxic and no one wants to be associated with him.

It is sad to watch this all play out.  It is even sadder that no one seems able to counsel the man on how to stop imploding.

Flawed Candidate Brett Hulsey Seeks One More Race

There is no way for a Democrat to look at the proposed ideas coming from just announced Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brett Hulsey and not be pleased.

After all, there is a plan to invest $1.2 billion to create clean energy jobs, playing onto the strong conviction in this state that the environment matters to voters, and that jobs need to be more plentiful with strong wages.  Then there is the push for more job training funding.  Following the beating that public education has faced there is thrust to invest more heavily in schools.  With frac mining playing havoc in many western portions of the state there is also a plan to protect communities against strip mining.

The ideas meet with the desire of many voters who want to have a forceful debate come the fall election against Scott Walker.

The problem is not with the issues, as many voters already know.  The problem in this case is with the candidate.

It has never been easy for me to watch the events play out the past few years when it comes to Hulsey.   I threw my support to Hulsey in 2010 feeling at the time he would step up and show spine when it came to the issues that mattered for voters in Wisconsin.    While he often did stand up and make a strong case for workers in the wild months of early 2011 when ACT 10 was being rushed through the legislature he also soon thereafter started making headlines that were sad and at times hard to believe.

For me the end of the line with Hulsey having credibility was when I saw the photos showing him wearing a speedo style swimsuit in a triathlon which was more than 30 miles from his district.  While there were more serious issues that surfaced with the representative I think it fair to say that image is the one that lingers.

While it is anyone’s right to run for office and seek the support of voters there is also a time to reasses where one is at and what the most prudent way forward might be.  There is no doubt that Hulsey has an interest in public policy, and at some level somewhere has abilities that can be used to make a difference.  But that time is not now, nor is the avenue the statewide race for governor.

I am mindful that Hulsey is just one news cycle away from making some dreadful statement or action that will again make him headline material for all the wrong reasons.  If he wanted to make the biggest impact for the causes that he holds close then he should stay behind the scenes and work for the election of Mary Burke.

Wisconsin State Representative Brett Hulsey Has ‘Jumped The Shark’

Let me start off this post by stating up front I was very supportive of Brett Hulsey when he first ran for state assembly.

In February 2011 I even called the freshman state representative “my type of Democrat” when he made news by moving front and center to the podium following a press availability by Governor Walker.  The statement from Walker regarded why he wanted to destroy collective bargaining.  Hulsey then marched to the podium in front of the assembled reporters and called the governor a dictator, not a leader, and said the budget bill was about union busting, and not about balancing the budget.  It was a scene straight out of the movies, and I was mighty proud of Hulsey in those most difficult weeks for our state.

But in the past year there has been one story after the other that has alerted everyone to the fact that Hulsey has changed, and seems to have lost the touch that a politician needs in order to be effective.  The latest stupefying episodes were reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

This started out being a post on Hulsey’s unusual use of campaign funds to buy an old convertible and to register for a triathlon. But by the end of two chats on Monday, the Madison lawmaker was openly contemplating a run for governor after dismissing the leading Democrat eyeing a bid.

“I was at an event with Mary Burke the other day,” said Hulsey, a Democrat. “She’s got the charisma of a turnip.”

There is no secret to the fact that politicians need to do things that make them special and unique to the voters, and add some sizzle to the political discussions that dominate Madison.  But when I read, and then saw photos of Hulsey wearing a speedo style swimsuit in a triathlon which was more than 30 miles from his district I had to wonder if I was the only one thinking about Happy Days when Fonzie ‘jumped the shark’.

There comes a time when, as in the case of the ABC television show, there is no more chance at re-gaining credibility or finding a way to recover from really awful blunders, actions, and deeds.  That is now the place that Hulsey finds himself.

And there is no one for Hulsey to blame except himself.

I know that Hulsey thinks it is the Democrats who are out to paint him in negative ways, and tarnish his image.  But there is no way to make up the bat-crap crazy behavior that has surrounded Hulsey as of late, and no one to blame other than who the representative sees in the mirror each morning.

I am mindful that Hulsey had so much potential, and I think truly God-given talents when he was first sworn into office.  He was bright, cared about the environment, and seemed like a fighter who was grounded and ready to make a mark on public policy.  Just the type of person the Democrats needed.   But then something happened to Hulsey that was both alarming to read about over time in the press, but also sad to witness.  It all has been rather embarrassing and somewhat painful to watch play out.

Brett Hulsey’s political career is over, and that is not something anyone can take glee about regardless of how we identify ourselves on the partisan divide.   I am trusting that there are those who know Hulsey as a close friend, and can pull him back from the path he has willingly taken.

Let us again have only Senator Glenn Grothman making news that leaves us shaking our heads in disbelief.

Madison Mayor Soglin Now Part Of State Rep. Hulsey Water-Splashing Story

This is getting more complicated than it should.

State Rep. Brett Hulsey said Wednesday his recent disorderly conduct citation  involving “horseplay” and photographing a 9-year-old boy at a city beach may  have been “politically motivated,” possibly involving Mayor Paul Soglin’s  administration.

Soglin declined to comment on the allegations Wednesday, saying he would  speak to the matter “in the next week or two.” Madison police defended their  investigation of the beach incident.

Hulsey, who pleaded no contest to the municipal disorderly conduct charge and  was fined $114, disputed statements Soglin aide Sally Miley provided to police  about the incident at Spring Harbor Beach on July 4, which involved her  grandson.

Police also left out key information from his side of the story in their  official incident report, he said.

Miley, who witnessed parts of the incident near her home with other members  of her family, shared her version of events with police and also told officers  that city Parks Director Kevin Briski told her of past complaints involving  Hulsey, including allegations he stalked a lifeguard.