Madison Progressive Brenda Konkel “Couldn’t Vote For Burke”

I am stunned and simply aghast.

Brenda Konkel is one of Madison’s best known progressives.  There is no doubt she has a big heart and cares about a host of issues.  At times I really agree with her sentiments, and then there are others times I think she has become unplugged from reality.

Today is one of those times when she clearly needed an extension cord.  There is no excuse for her action.

On Brenda Konkel’s Facebook page she writes in part,  “I waffled and I tried, but I couldn’t vote for Burke, but I also DID NOT vote for Walker”

In essence, of course, in a very tight election where every vote counts her attempt at some ‘higher-calling’ about politics or policy did provide Walker with the absence of another vote against him.  And that matters.

I know Konkel will be at the keyboard to bang out missives about the plight of the homeless and rail against Republican ideas.   I am right there with her when it comes to knowing full-well we need to find a real solution for those who sleep outside and also to bring forces together to stem Republican over-reach.

But after her action today at the polling booth her pleas and angst will be empty of punch.  For better or worse Mary Burke is the path forward from the place we now reside.  No candidate is perfect and Rome was not built in a day.  But we all start with a first step.  A vote for Burke was that step.

Sadly, Brenda Konkel missed the chance to put her array of political concerns behind any candidate that could make them a priority.   She may be given a star for political purity, but a failing grade for political maturity.

Predictions For Election 2014–Including Race For Wisconsin Governor


What will we do with our hands once they no longer need to reach for the remote to prevent yet another political advertisement from coming into our living room?   Candidates continue to bombard voters with these ads even as polls such as ones in Virginia this year showed almost 8 of every 10 voters said the ads didn’t affect their decisions.  With DVR use increasing and more homes like ours fast-forwarding our way past them perhaps in some future election………

Now that hard-fought races are nearly complete it is that time in the election cycle when we get to have some fun with the deck of cards we have been dealt regarding the candidates for the mid-term elections.

Before I get to the predictions let me readily admit only real politicos can feel any sense of excitement this cycle as the races were void of policy ideas to challenge a nation seeking answers, or calm an electorate that is confused and scared about events unfolding at home and abroad.  Instead of lifting the nation up campaigns this year simply made another reason for too many voters to feel bad about almost everything.

As a liberal Democrat there is no way not to make an opening comment about the state of the Democratic Party.  If I did not say something some might think I was dodging the issue.  As always on my blog I make every effort to be up-front in how I view events.

This year when it comes to my party I am disgusted.  Not because of what the party has done, but due to the fact my party’s candidates were timid about standing up with pride and making the case as to why our nation is better served with our polices and proposal’s for further legislation.  Republicans worked to define this election cycle and Democrats did not assert themselves to debunk the prevailing narrative. Is it any wonder we are where we now find ourselves?  When a Democratic candidate can not answer a question about proudly casting a ballot for the first African-American president than maybe voters should re-elect the Republican.  I would have counseled candidates that either one stands for something in a proud way or one looks small and foolish and it undermines the mantle of leadership one is striving to attain from the voters.

When the Democratic Party fails to understand that the man sitting in the White House has an electoral formula for success by motivating core voters to turn out as much as swing voters, and yet candidates are even scared to mention his name let alone campaign with him, than maybe it is time to cast off the weak-kneed ones.   I am not a paid consultant but it was pure folly this cycle for candidates to distance themselves from the president–even disparage him.  Come Election Night the price for that mistake will be demonstrated coast to coast.  If the Democratic Party will not show spine in an election how convincing are they to voters who are nervous about pressing issues confronting the nation?

Yes, I am disgusted.

In spite of that fact let’s try and have some fun–as has been the case for me since November 1980–with making predictions for the big races and interesting contests around the country.

First prediction I offer is voter turnout in Wisconsin.  For all the intensity and importance of the races I am never surprised by the lack participation of the electorate.  53% turnout.  

United States Senate

I want to alert readers to how I viewed the senate races just a couple of weeks ago.  Most of this year I have been bearish on the outcomes and nothing has altered my views.  Off the top I place Montana, South Dakota—I was never under the spell of some who thought this was ever in play–and West Virginia in the hands of the GOP.  I also easily place Michigan and Virginia to the Democrats.  If a senate race is not listed here it means the incumbent is predicted to win.  If my math below if correct my predictions give the GOP seven pick-ups on Tuesday.

Alaska–Despite its image of feisty independence let’s be honest about this state.    Alaska led the nation in per capita federal aid to state and local governments in 2010, the most recent year for such data being reported.  Whichever party wins this seat the end game is–as always–what does Alaska need from the outside world and which candidate is best at getting it.  So for Dan Sullivan  to make some grand call for smaller government is simply galling to hear.   Most polls have shown a 4 or 5 percent advantage for the Republican and nothing eventful has changed to the point those numbers should switch.  Sullivan defeats Mark Begich.

Arkansas—There is one Republican candidate more than any other who has created a visceral reaction for me this election cycle.  Tom Cotton is without doubt the most vapid Republican running this year for the senate.  As has been stated many times Cotton started thinking about running for the senate a month after being sworn in as a congressman.  Before he had found the toilets in the capitol he was seeking higher office.   There is nothing to this man for policy credentials other that what he is told to say by his political handlers.  During one of the debates I watched this fall with Mark Pryor there seemed no end to the times Cotton used the word Obama.  I can assure my readers there are no college kids who could have made it though that debate in a drinking game as they might do with a Bob Newhart show since there were 74 times the president’s name was used by the Republican candidate.   Cotton literally had nothing of substance to say and was so out of his league it was embarrassing.  But even more stunning to me is that the voters will send him to Washington for six years.  Cotton defeats Pryor.  Tell me honestly that we should not be spending more tax money on education in Arkansas.

Colorado—As we watch this election night tally unfold ponder how we now clearly have two types of elections.  One is presidential where Democrats have some key constituencies that can be tapped into along with an electoral college of states that makes the ever-more white and conservative Republican Party on the ropes as it seeks the White House.  But come mid-terms when certain demographics are more prone to vote–and equally important another set of demographics less inclined to vote–we get races like in Colorado which is simply befuddling.   Obama gave his acceptance speech in dramatic fashion in 2008 in this state and Hispanic voters should be one of the keys to a Democratic win here–but some polling data show they may not get to the polls.  This race had been so close but the last swing by voters,  as is often the case in these types of races where the incumbent can not make a clean break away, will go to the challenger.  Cory Gardner defeats Mark Udall.

Georgia—This is where it gets interesting.  OK, more interesting!  In order to avoid a runoff in this state the winning candidate’s margin of victory has to exceed that of the third-party challenger or as we call them on CP–spoilers.  What precisely will the 2 or 3 percent of the vote going to the Libertarian candidate do for climate change or increasing the minimum wage debate in the nation?  Voters should be more aware of the importance of their vote and that will he clearly demonstrated in Georgia come Election Night.  Both major parties are harmed by the third-party attempt at making mere headlines.  This race is real and intense and every week for months I have sought out the polls as Nunn steadily closed on Perdue.   But there is not enough thrust to get over the 50% mark for either candidate and  a nasty run-off is in the offing for  Jan. 6 which is three days after the 114th Congress convenes.  On Election Night Nunn has the most votes.

Iowa—Even though Joni Ernst is wrong on almost every single issue she has run a rather impressive campaign.  Not pretty–but politically impressive.  I felt her opening ad that made national headlines was on the same level as the must-see type that created buzz for Russ Feingold when he was seeking to become a statewide name.  She is not a rocket scientist, but does fit in with what I think are the type of voters who will turn out in high numbers to elect her.   Ernst defeats Bruce Braley.

Kansas—Most general election candidates run to the middle of the road but Pat Roberts conducted much of his race headed to the right as opposed to the middle.  Roberts even had to bring in Ted Cruz to lend a hand.  While Greg Orman has run a most impressive effort and a truly interesting race to watch unfold this is still Kansas.  While the polls at one time showed a large gap between the candidates things are tightening in the final days and come Tuesday Roberts defeats Orman.

Kentucky—I have been hard on Alison Lundergan Grimes as I thought at one time she would have made a wonderful candidate and then senator.  She may get another chance someday, but her attempts to shine this cycle have not produced the outcomes many had hoped for.  I guess it comes at no surprise that in the closing days of the race the campaign here (as other races elsewhere) are trying to make Social Security privatization an issue.  When a candidate needs to reach for this tool in the war chest it means the internal polls are showing a bad Election Night in the offing.  Devil advocates might say it shows the race so close they need to draw just enough voters who might be swayed by the issue.  Meanwhile Mitch McConnell has not offered new ideas or played to the future.  It is all about his political survival.  McConnell defeats Grimes.

Louisiana–Like Georgia, this race is not over on Election Night.  There are always tight-rope walkers in politics but perhaps none more capable at winning with the wind in her face than Mary Landrieu.  Neither she nor Bill Cassidy will garner the needed 50% due to an irksome teabagger on the ballot.  So come early December this race will be fought again and one has to wonder if ‘voter-fatigue’ by that time will impact the race to any degree and who that might benefit.   On Election Night Landrieu has the most votes.

New Hampshire—Are we to believe that a former senator from Massachusetts is to win in a state where they take their politics very seriously and may not cotton to a carpetbagger looking for a political job?  At the end of Election Day I sure hope being defeated by yet another women at the ballot box does not destroy Scott Brown’s self-image.    I will admit to being stunned at times by some of the polling showing how close this race was trending.  But at the end of the day voters in the small towns will prefer the ‘brittle’ woman they know to the opportunist they wish would just go away.  Jeanne Shaheen defeats Scott Brown.

North Carolina–I have felt this race–though close and certainly not a given–more in the Democratic column than not. Hard as he tried Thom Tillis has not been able to close the deal and that is due to the far-right positions he has taken over the years.   I am also looking for a sizable and convincing African-American turn-out to stem whatever last drops of money takes places from the GOP.  After all this race has topped $100 million making it the first such contest in the nation to cross that line.  Nothing to be proud of on that score–on either side.  Kay Hagan defeats Tillis.

Wisconsin Governor’s Race

Wisconsin has one of the tightest gubernatorial elections in the nation.  Our state also was reported to have the fewest undecided voters among the statehouse races taking place all over the country.  There is a buzz, energy, and determination that is running high on both sides in preparation for voting.  But here comes the rub for me.  I am not able to square what my gut is telling me in relation to all the buzz that I am reading and watching unfold.  Why do I have this gut feeling that the Democratic get-out-the-vote effort will not produce the outcome that is required to win?  Why do I have a feeling that at noon on Election Day I could walk the UW-Madison campus and find students who had not voted, and did not know if they could find the time to cast a ballot.  After four years of outrages from the Walker Administration why do I sense the energy to be with the GOP in Wisconsin and not those who have felt the harshness of his policies?  As I have asked over the weeks how can a state upend their top elected official if the right-track/wrong-track numbers are on the plus side?  How can polls show majorities disagree with Walker’s policies dealing with Medicaid, minimum wage, and education and then still show strong support for his election?  While I have heard many talk about the sorry tone of our state politics and wanting a return to the way things once were why are the polls stuck in such a close range?   While there has been a ho-hum quality to much of Mary Burke’s campaign I was impressed with her second debate performance.  I actually felt a surge of hope and then after a few days I returned to where I have been throughout this race.  Hopeful but honest about the campaign, and mentally prepared for the end  result that I feel certain is coming.  Walker defeats Burke 53%-47%.  I want to be wrong.

Wisconsin Attorney General

Republican Brad Schimel has kept his Democratic opponent Susan Happ on the defense most of this general election. There were moments when the campaigns took on a civil atmosphere, but for the most part it has been hard-hitting–as it should be since the issues are most integral to the future of our state.   This race still has a rather high number–higher than I would have thought possible as this stage of the race-of voters not sure who these candidates are and what they stand for.  I wonder if independents might want to secure at least some brake on Republican control of the state and place a Democrat–a personable and engaging woman–in the office of Attorney General.    I know pure partisans will vote a straight ticket–but given the intensity of our politics I think enough independent-minded voters will cast ballots to have Happ defeat Schimel 51-49%

Wisconsin Secretary Of State

Doug La Follette is truly one of the nicest guys who works in Madison.  Genuine and personable.  Voters must be wondering with GOP hopes of downsizing government how Julian Bradley wants to expand the duties of the office.  Not that the duties once handled in the office should not return, but how many memos did Bradley not read from his party?  La Follette will have a  victory over his GOP candidate Julian Bradley.

Wisconsin State Senate

I see no reason for any Democratic hope in the three heavily contested state senate elections.  The senate was the last legislative brake that could have been applied for every crazed wet dream the GOP will think of over the next two years.  Howard Marklein will have an easy time with Pat Bomhack  in the 17th–defeating him with 53% of the vote.   Bomhack should have never entered this senate race against Ernie Wittwer, the well-established resident of the district who I felt could have prevailed in the general election.  Republicans will also win in the 9th and 19th senate districts.

Wisconsin Congressional Seat

Only Glenn Grothman in the 6th CD has a race that is generating the type of interest that demands a line in my predictions.   If Democrats need a gift that keeps on giving we will now have it when there is no campaign requirement for Grothman to tone his inner quirks down.    Mark Harris is running and must feel like a salmon butting up against the rushing waters.  Grothman defeats Harris with 55% of the vote.  No prediction on how soon the new member of congress says his first crazy statement.  But we all know the whopper is a’comin.

Other Races

There are countless races I am watching to see the outcome.   But for the sake of brevity—(most of my readers are rolling their eyes by this point)–let me  quickly point out three races that are punchy.

First, I will predict that an 86-year old rascal, Edwin Edwards, will be the top vote getter in a bid for congress (and on his way to a run-0ff) in Louisiana.  Over and over I have heard in report after report how people recognize his name and will cast a ballot for him.  I know the name too…….and never…..would consider him for my vote if he was the last Democrat to ever run.  The reason for the name aspect to this prediction is the low name ID of the other contenders.   Surely there must be high-speed internet down there so the voters can learn more about the slate of candidates, right?

Second, in Illinois Pat Quinn defeats challenger Bruce Rauner and proves that state is still Democratic even in tough election cycles.  I want to see the headlines and editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times the morning after the election.  How is crow served these days?

Third, there is no way the people in Florida win no matter who is elected.  In the end Crist defeats Scott.  I watched one of the debates on C-SPAN between Rick Scott who is just too far to the right and Charlie Crist who epitomizes smarmy and wondered how the voters there deal with all the ads between the two…..which takes me back to where this prediction post started.

Vote Tuesday, and then watch the returns with people you care about.  And thanks for reading.


Madison Alder, Former Trek Executive, Counters GOP Lies About Mary Burke

There is no shortage of backlash over the lies the GOP unleashed this week concerning Mary Burke and her time at Trek Bicycle.

A Madison alder who worked for Trek Bicycle in the 1990s and 2000s says media accounts suggesting Mary Burke was let go from her family’s company don’t jibe with what she knows.

Denise DeMarb, president pro tem of the Madison city council, worked at Trek for nearly 20 years, the last half of which were spent as director of finance. She retired about three years ago.

DeMarb said Thursday that Burke, the Democratic candidate for governor, worked for Trek twice while she was there.

Trek was founded by Burke’s father, Richard, who died in 2008. Burke’s brother, John, now serves as president and CEO.

DeMarb called into question the credibility of Gary Ellerman, the company’s human resources director at the time, who alleged in a Wisconsin Reporter story that Burke was forced out of her job in 1993. 

Ellerman currently serves as chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party and ran in 2012 as a fake Democrat during the recall elections. His Facebook page, since locked down, previously included a number of crude public posts, including one that referred to First Lady Michelle Obama as “a man” and President Barack Obama as “a homo.” Trek has said he was fired from the company in 2004.

Wisconsin Reporter received $190,000 from the Bradley Foundation in 2012. The foundation is led by Michael Grebe, co-chairman of Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign.

Thomas Albers, who joined the company in 1982 and served as chief operating officer and president from 1993 until 1997, backed up some of Ellerman’s claims. He told the Wisconsin State Journal that Burke “handled herself well,” but said it was his understanding she was fired.

In the same story, Steve Lindenau, head of Trek’s German operations from 1989 to 2001, commended Burke’s leadership.

Both Burke’s campaign and Trek CEO John Burke dismissed the allegations as politically-motivated and untrue.

Milwaukee Journal Cuts To The Core Over Mary Burke Trek Issue

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cuts to the core in a piece state voters need to read.

You were not alone if thinking about the drunk driving charge against George Bush that popped up in the last days of the 200o presidential campaign.  Rough and tumble politics often delivers unexpected events and misleading stories of the kind that Mary Burke now finds making state headlines.    But there also needs to be a place for facts and therefore I was pleased to see the Milwaukee paper that is read from one end of Wisconsin to the other making an attempt to level the playing field for voters who are questioning what they are hearing.

The entire article should be read and pondered, but I offer a short segment below.

My last thought on this matter is rather straightforward.  If those who make the claims were so interested in having this ‘news’ resonate with the voters why did they wait until the last days of the campaign to come forward?  Therein lies the answer for the voters who wish to know the truth.

Mary Burke has made her business acumen a central selling point of her campaign for governor — she brags about growing Trek Bicycle Corp.’s European sales from $3 million to $50 million while she ran those operations during the early 1990s — so it’s hardly a surprise that conservatives fighting to keep Gov. Scott Walker on the job have challenged her claims.

But as of today, we know no more about Burke’s time at Trek than we did earlier this week.

What we do know is that two reports, one in a conservative publication, the other in the Journal Sentinel, have given voice to critics of Burke’s time with Trek — criticism larded with hearsay, innuendo and sexist overtones.

No voter should base his or her decision on 20-year-old twaddle from a fired Trek employee who now is a Republican county chairman — all dredged up a week before the election. There are plenty of good issues to vote on, including Burke’s record as a businesswoman. After all, she brought it up. But these reports prove nothing and say more about the attackers than they do about her.

Scott Walker Takes Huge Lead Over Mary Burke In Latest State Poll

There was always a gnawing fact that I kept asking my friends about.

When it comes to right-track/wrong-track questioning state voters place the state on the plus side.  So how then is it possible to think voters would throw the incumbent top elected official out of office?

We are getting close to the answer.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker leads Democratic challenger Mary Burke 50% to 43% among likely voters in a new survey by the Marquette University Law School.

That represents a change from other surveys in recent weeks — including Marquette’s previous poll two weeks ago — showing the race essentially tied.

Marquette surveyed 1,164 likely voters from last Thursday through Sunday. The poll has margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The race is much tighter among all registered voters — with Walker leading Burke 46% to 45%.

the shift toward Walker among the most likely voters in the poll reflects a spike in the share of Republicans who say they are certain to vote.

Mary Burke Should Have Cast Vote For School Budget

Let me be brief and to the point over this issue.

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke  voted against raising property taxes as a member of the Madison school board at Monday night’s meeting.  That vote was wrong.

The school board budget was reasonable and proper given the times in which we live.    It was not a generous give-a-way to teachers or allowed for excessive and needless spending.  It was a budget this school district can be proud of along with the members who spent countless hours fashioning it for a final vote.

The problem as I see it, and as one who knows that there are times when tax increases are very purposeful and correct, was that Burke took a position of opposition to the increase. The idea that taxes are only to go down is folly and intellectually unacceptable if one is truly honest about making government function for the citizenry.   For too long we have allowed the rhetoric of ‘no tax increases’ to carry the day, but the end result of such thoughtlessness is that we let our social institutions suffer.  There are times when tax increases are exactly the correct thing to do.   All we need do is look to Minnesota to see how such revenues work for the best interests of the whole state.

While it is a no-brainer over how Republicans would have spun the vote had Burke cast it for the budget I would argue that leadership demanded her to take the correct vote and then slug it out with the partisans later. The other board members did the proper thing by voting for the budget.

As a Madison taxpayer I am fine with paying my bill.  I think many of my fellow citizens here  feel the same.

Might Wisconsin’s Gubernatorial Race Be Decided By Less Than A Point ?

There is no way not to eat this story up and ponder how Wisconsin fits into the stats given how close our gubernatorial race continues to be, and that our state has the fewest undecided voters among all the states holding gubernatorial races.

As I have stated over and over on this blog there is no end to the fascination that these mid-terms have provided.  I can honestly say in my life-time I have never witnessed anything similar to what is now happening all at once in senate and gubernatorial elections.   This speaks to the unease and angst in the voters at paralyzed government and all too-often tone-deaf politicians.    How this breaks to one party or the other, or gets split will be key to the number of people who turn out to cast a ballot.

Make strong coffee and plenty of desserts for Election Night–and Election Eve is one week away!

I take the liberty of posting a huge chunk of this article as it is simply fascinating to see the nation as a whole so divided.

Through mid-day Sunday, the average polling spread for each of the 36 races at Real Clear Politics (RCP) revealed:

● Five contests within less than one point: Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin
● Five between 1.0 and 4.9 points: Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts
● Seven between 5.0 and 9.9 points: Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island
● Nineteen at more than 10.0 points: Alabama, California, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wyoming

What’s remarkable about the 2014 cycle – should the polling averages hold – is the unusually large number of races this cycle with razor-thin polling ‘advantages’ of just fractions of a percentage point.

Real Clear Politics averages find:

● Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado up 0.8 points over challenger Bob Beauprez
● Democratic Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut (pictured at top) trailing GOPer Tom Foley by 0.3 points in a rematch of a 2010 race decided by 0.6 points
● Democratic Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois down 0.2 points to Republican Bruce Rauner
● Republican Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas tied with Democrat Paul Davis
● Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin tied with Democrat Mary Burke

Add to that narrow spreads in three other races at just around 1 percentage point:

● Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida trails Democrat Charlie Crist by 1.0 point
● Republican Nathan Deal of Georgia is up 1.3 points over Democrat Jason Carter
● Republican Paul LePage of Maine is up 1.8 points over Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud

In short, each of the eight tightest gubernatorial races in the country according to RCP polling averages all involve incumbents.

What’s more, if most of these races continue to go down to the wire, the 2014 cycle might just set a modern record for the most races decided by a fraction of a percentage point.

Smart Politics examined the more than 1,600 gubernatorial elections conducted during midterm and presidential election cycles since 1900 and found that only three cycles have produced as many as five contests with a victory margin of less than one percentage point.

There are at least eight in the mix to do so in 2014.

Across the 57 election cycles since 1900, two have yielded six gubernatorial races decided by less than a point – 1940 and 1962.

In 1940, the country saw down-to-the-wire races in six of 34 contests, or 17.6 percent: in Indiana (0.2 points), Kansas (0.1), Massachusetts (0.3), Missouri (0.2), Washington (0.8), and Wisconsin (0.9).

Republicans won five of these six races – only falling short in the open seat Hoosier State race.

In 1962, six of 36 gubernatorial contests saw victory margins of less than a point, or 16.7 percent: with Democrats winning in Massachusetts (0.2 points), Minnesota (0.0), North Dakota (0.9), and Wisconsin (0.9) and the GOP winning Maine (0.2) and Rhode Island (0.1).

In 1916 five of 36 races yielded a victory margin of less than one point:Arizona (0.1 point), Idaho (0.4), Missouri (0.3), Ohio (0.6), and West Virginia (0.9).

The only other cycles since the 20th Century in which at least 10 percent of gubernatorial races were won by less than a point were in 1902 (3 of 27, 11.1 percent) and 1974 (4 of 35, 11.4 percent).

Overall, just 82 of the 1,661 gubernatorial races held during midterm and presidential election cycles since 1900 have been decided by less than a point, or 4.9 percent.

Another 306 contests were decided between 1.0 and 4.9 points (18.3 percent) and 326 others by between 5.0 and 9.9 points (19.6 percent).

In other words, a larger percentage of gubernatorial races in midterm and presidential election cycles have been decided by less than five points (23.4 percent) than between 5.0 and 9.9 points (19.6 percent).

Change The Tone In State Capitol To Move Wisconsin Forward

This weekend I talked with a former town board supervisor and county board member from Waushara Country.  After a few minutes of  discussion I asked if there were any days of regrets about no longer serving and working on the local issues of the day.

“Good Lord, no.  It is just so mean and everyone is angry.”

I have no idea if this person is a Democrat or a Republican.  I just always pegged the former official as one who was fiscally prudent.  So it was hard to determine if the point that was being made was aimed at the fractious nature of state politics over the past four years driven by Governor Scott Walker or if the statement concerned the strident blow-back from union members and Democrats over ACT 10.  At some level it did not matter, because the divide is so deep in Wisconsin the only things we should be concentrating on is how can it end, and how do we all move forward.

I suspect there are many voters, from both ends of the political divide in this state, who would sum up the current political climate in our state as a place where it is just so mean and everyone is angry.

Those who have lived a few decades in this state know full well that never-ending political strife of the type we have endured for the past four years is not the normal way we conduct statehouse issues.  While we always had our political skirmishes the friction’s that have come to define our current way of conducting the public business of government has never been so hard-fought or created such deep anger.  Can anyone fathom how matters such as parochial school aids or the oleo wars could disrupt communities the way targeting public employees did?

Which brings me to Mary Burke and her promise that I suspect many of my fellow citizens are hoping can come to fruition.

If she wins, Burke said the theme of her inaugural address will be “an end to the divisiveness.”

“We’re going to set a different tone,” Burke said in an interview last week. “We’re all on the same team.”

I am not sure what the polling has to say about the desire in percentage terms of voters wanting a new tone to be set in Madison when it comes to how legislators need to again act in a civil fashion and that the process of government needs to be respected so to avoid chaos—but I would bet the vast majority of voters want it to happen.

Everyone who follows politics knows full well that good ideas come from both sides of the aisle but what is lacking too often is the good-will and camaraderie that needs to exist in legislative bodies to fashion a policy idea that both parties can take credit for.  When both ends meet in the middle and compromise by passing a law there is general consensus that government is working for the people.

How we get from the point where we now find ourselves and the place where we again can sit down and talk rationally with those we have policy difference with will require a change in who resides in the most important chair at the table.  If Walker remains governor there is not going to be  a change of atmosphere that this state needs–and one the citizens really deserve.  That may sound partisan to many of my readers, and while I very much want to replace Walker,  I am also most sincere in believing that the one who did the most to create the havoc can not have any productive role in reversing the hard feelings.   Story lines about redemption may work on a movie set in Hollywood but that will not work in the strained environment of the capitol.    There needs to be a change in leadership if we are to move this state forward.

It may sound trite to some and just more politics when Burke said one of her first actions as governor will be to meet one-on-one with Republican legislators and find common ground.   It will be hard work to build bridges of trust and find first the small achievable goals that can unite both sides before building up to crafting larger pieces of legislation in a united fashion.

But our state for a very long time was able to achieve that, and it must do so again.

But first we need to change the tone under the dome.

That can start on Election Day.