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.

Will Union Votes Help Kathleen Falk In Today’s Democratic Primary?

Polls close at 8:00 P.M.

One key to the outcome of today’s Democratic primary for governor will be union households.

Polls suggest they’ll make up more than a quarter of the Democratic vote.

But the candidate with the most union endorsements, Kathleen Falk, has struggled to consolidate that vote, which is vital to her hopes of upsetting Democratic frontrunner Tom Barrett.

In the combined March and April polls of Democratic primary voters by Marquette Law School, Falk trailed Barrett by 9 points among voters in union households.

The polling sample is fairly small here in the two surveys combined: 233 primary voters in union households — for a margin of error of 6.6 points. So the numbers should be taken with caution.

But even accounting for survey error, it looks like Falk’s hoped-for advantage among union voters hadn’t materialized as of late April.

The polling suggests that just a split of the union vote would be a victory for Barrett, since he led Falk by more than 20 points among non-union households in Marquette’s most recent primary poll.

How big will the union vote be?

Union households made up a little more than a quarter of primary voters in Marquette’s last two polls.

In Wisconsin’s 2008 Democratic presidential primary, voters from union households made up 35% of the vote, according to exit polls.

Wisconsin Debate: Kathleen Vinehout Has Best Response, Kathleen Falk Has Worst Response

It was the best of times.

It was the worst of times.

It was the Wisconsin Democratic Primary debate just days before voters head to the polls to elect the person who will challenge Scott Walker in the recall election.

I like and very much admire Kathleen Falk, but whomever has been advising her on how best to respond with full thematic and meaningful answers to questions has not done the campaign any favors.

On Friday night there was a great question about what steps each of the candidates would take once elected, and leading up to being sworn into office.

For the umpteenth time Kathleen Falk spoke about her 14 years of experience in Dane County, and how she negotiated and helped to create jobs.  Yes, Falk has a very impressive background, and it is one reason I am going to vote for her in the primary.

But it seems to me after having watched a couple of the debates, and followed the press reports rather closely that Falk has a few paragraphs of talking points that gets presented over and over.

With all due respect I am tired of them.  I think most voters are too.

Anyone who watched the debate on Friday night must have wondered where the answer was once Falk finished telling everyone she was an elected woman from Dane County, but missed a golden opportunity to respond to the steps that comes after being elected.  There were enough words to fill the minute alloted to her for an answer, but nothing that would have made a voter feel any reason to pull the lever for her.

And that to me is sad.  Falk is most capable, and yet she seems tied to some sentences in a campaign script that make her look empty of other thoughts. If that is her way of introducing herself to voters I have to question the other options that were left on the cutting room floor.

She might have spoken about bridging the divide with meetings and coffee with legislators from both sides of the aisle, or forming a working group to start dealing with needed issues such as a venture capital bill, or mining legislation.  Granted, the last one has political risks associated with it, but hopefully in June we are going to elect a leader and not just a governor.

But Falk seemed too interested in those talking points question after question.  And it left me feeling too much time was squandered.

Meanwhile Kathleen Vinehout sent one response sailing over the walls of the ballpark when she looked into the eyes of the questioner and the audience at home and spoke about the need to make sure laws are followed, and the process of government treated with respect.


I clapped my hands, put my hand on James’ shoulder, and told him that is what Wisconsin needs to hear.

Debates, and I can hardly stand that term for the event that was on television tonight, should be robust exchanges that move the dialogue forward.

What was presented instead was a series of statements and remarks that have been given multiple times so that the other candidates know what is coming, and how they will then respond.

In the end Tom Barrett won the debate, and is on his way to winning the primary come Tuesday.

Kathleen Falk’s Son Has Something To Say

From Eric Falk Phillips, Kathleen Falk’s son, comes the following message

I grew up in a house where my first ‘political’ experiences weren’t fundraisers or election night parties. They were the quiet acts of people like her who will always care more about those who have nothing than those who have everything. Politics to my mom has never been about personal gain or scoring political points. It’s always been about how she could best help kids and how she could give a helping hand to families in the grip of addiction or institutional poverty.

As a kid it was my mom who took me to my first soup kitchen. It was my mom who taught me that delivering Meals on Wheels was more important than our family’s holiday dinners. It was my mom who showed me that when my classmates in grade school needed a safe place to stay at night, we’d always be the first to provide it.

These values – these living lessons – not only form the center of her character, they also represent the kind of governor she will be.

If we want to elect a governor who leads by example around the values we care about to replace a governor who divides us around the politics of partisanship, I’m asking that you help elect the candidate who’s got the experience doing it.

Join Kathleen Falk For Today’s On-Line Chat About Scott Walker’s War On Women

This news came my way today from the campaign of Kathleen Falk for Governor.

Tonight I am hosting an online discussion at 5:45pm to end Gov. Walker’s War on Women. Join me tonight for our online War Room style discussion. Rep. Christine Sinicki will be joining the War Room from Milwaukee and Rep. Chris Taylor will be joining from Madison. You, too, can participate wherever you are, you just need a computer, a Facebook account and an internet connection. We know what is at stake. RSVP by clicking here.

We must end Gov. Walker’s ‘War on Women’ and win this recall election. Please do your part and join the discussion.

There are more than 2.8 million women in Wisconsin and Gov. Scott Walker declared war on each and every one of us.

  • Gov. Walker repealed Wisconsin’s equal pay law for women just last week, even though we make only 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. One of Gov. Walker’s top soldiers said that’s OK, because “money is more important for men.”
  • He defunded Planned Parenthood, cutting their funds for things like breast and cervical cancer screenings.
  • And Gov. Walker is on record saying he will “protect pharmacists who refuse to dispense birth control.”

Democratic Gubernatorial Forum Makes Clear Administrative Rule Process Must Change

With a standing room only crowd in downtown Madison Wednesday night it took only one line to set the tone for the Democratic candidate forum for governor.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett took to the podium and made it quite clear by stating “Governor Walker started a civil war.”

An older man  wearing a union button standing off to the side where I sat added “and we are going to win.”

While there was much interest in collective bargaining, and the way the four candidates vying to challenge Walker in a recall election would restore worker rights, it was not the only topic that was discussed.

Of particular interest to me was the discussion over ACT 21 that impacted how the administrative rule process is fashioned.  Currently the law that Walker signed requires an 18-step process that begins and ends in the governor’s office. Under this system, proposed rules often require economic impact studies, and take two to three extra years to run the procedural gauntlet.  Rules have the power of law, and are made to insure that signed legislation has the ‘nuts and bolts’ to function properly.

Mayor Barrett described ACT 21 as a “power-grab”, and told Dane County Democrats that he would “restore the balance”. 

State Senator Kathleen Vinehout spoke about the anglers and hunters who have felt the negative impact of Walker controlling the rule process.  With passion Vinehout said, “the tyranny of this governor has squelched” the rights of citizens.

My deep concern about the rule process is one that comes with a bit of background.  I was the Research Assistant for Representative Lary Swoboda when he served as Co-Chair of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules. I was the committee clerk for JCRAR.  I fully understand that this issue is not sexy, and rarely makes for headlines.

But the administrative rule process matters to every citizen whether they understand it or not.

No governor from any party should have the rule making process begin and end in the executive office.  Rule making oversight from the legislature is a reasoned and appropriate manner in making sure the agencies promulgate rules in a timely and responsible fashion.  Why the current Republican controlled legislature thought it wise to relinquish legislative control over the rule process is one of the many unanswered questions of the past 15 months.

Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk struck another chord in the discussion by making it clear that “secretive and closed” meetings does not allow the rule making process credibility, and stated in regards to Walker that “no one should have too much power” when it comes to rule-making.

Secretary of State Doug LaFollette, who entered the room wearing his trademark hat and affable smile made it short and simple when responding to the rule-making mess.  “Repeal this process,” he declared.

Then with equal passion, and to a smattering of applause LaFollette made it clear he wanted  the DNR Board to make the selection of the secretary for the agency.  (This has been another one of those process issues that this blog challenged Democratic Governor Doyle over time and again.)

It was hard to judge from the applause which candidate was making more headway with the crowd.  Truthfully there was more a sense of moving beyond the primary and getting to the real election, that being the recall of Governor Walker.

One interesting statistic was bounced around the forum last night that should cheer supporters of all four candidates.

In 2010 there were 812, 086 fewer Democratic voters in Wisconsin than turned  out in 2008.  The Dane County portion of that number is 61,494.  In other words Democrats know the numbers are on our side.

There will be a ground game to get the voters to the polls, and as the candidates made clear to energized Dane Democrats there is no greater time to make a change in Wisconsin leadership than now.  And no greater reason why that change is needed.

Tom Barrett Will Run In Recall Election To Replace Scott Walker

Game On.   Barrett will face a tough Democratic primary against Kathleen Falk.

In a Friday afternoon email to supporters, Barrett, who has twice run unsuccessfully for governor, announced that he will be making a third bid for the state’s highest office as part of the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker.

“We need to bring our state back,” Barrett wrote in the note. “Wisconsin needs a governor who is focused on jobs, not ideology; a leader committed to bringing our state together and healing political wounds, not pitting people against each other and catering to the special interests.

“This is the governor I will be for the people of Wisconsin.”

Barrett’s top adviser put the matter more succinctly.

“Game on,” the adviser said. “I think we had a sleepy campaign. For a lot of reasons, I don’t think it’s going to be sleepy now.”

Kathleen Falk Responds To Federal Court Ruling Limiting Gov. Walker Over-Reach on Collective Bargaining

The naked power grab by Governor Scott Walker over collective bargaining met a Federal Court, and was sent into reverse today.  Two portions of ACT 10 were viewed by the court as violating the First Amendment rights of public workers.

Kathleen Falk responded to the court decision today.

“Wisconsin citizens have long known Gov. Walker’s attack on workers was not honest and today’s court ruling shows his attack was not legal,” said a statement from former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, a Democrat running against Walker.

“Gov. Walker tore Wisconsin apart and his way has failed us. As governor, I will restore transparency, accountability and honesty to the governor’s office and bring Wisconsin together.”