When I think of Wisconsin Supreme Court justices my mental image constructs a serious person with law books and one of those expensive type pens that write smoothly and has a nice heft when held. I recall the mesh market bag that held at least ten legal tomes as Wisconsin Justice Shirley Abramson placed them into the back of my car for a trip to Door County. She was a guest speaker at an event packaged by our legislative office, and I readily introduced my sincere interest in being her means of transportation. I would argue she best exemplified and epitomized a member of the high court in both intellect and legal reasoning, as well as temperament and personal composure. After all, that court must be viewed as a place of decorum and high personal standards.
I have been giving thought about the type of person best suited to sit on the court as our state enters the final weeks of a primary contest where four candidates vying to fill the seat of a retiring conservative member. (Place aside for the moment that merit selection would be a wiser and more appropriate way to fill seats on the court.) There is no way to not think about the type of person we need on the court, especially when reading the news this weekend. One of the candidates, Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow, has been constructing a business plan in Delafield for an indoor gun range with a liquor license. Potentially alcohol-fueled guests could also buy firearms and accessories on-site and use them on a shooting range. One might assume there will be convenient cups and glass holders near to where the bullets are stored for easy access for the paying guests as they load the deadly weapons. I have never heard of a more potentially dangerous business plan.
Nothing of this type has come before the local Marquette Neighborhood Association, where over the years I have attended meetings on proposals for many an entrepreneurial design. While many were interested in making money and having success with their venture, no one would have ever so foolishly entertained the marriage of alcohol and guns. Dorow is just plain wrong to play so close to potential injury, or worse, as she seeks to make money. This business plan, in and of itself, serves notice as to why she is not fit to sit on the Supreme Court.
Our state has many complex and weighty issues that percolate up to the court that then await the review and findings of the justices. Citizens obviously have sincere, and at times, very diverse opinions as to the proper outcome of such cases. But win or lose, at the end of the day, the populace must have a feeling the justices are credible individuals. Folks around the state most likely are not much aware of the nuances of the law and state statutes, but they can relate to the foundations that a justice must first have a solid character and basic common sense as a prerequisite for being elected.
Dorow alerts us to her lack of seriousness for statewide office as a justice when she endorsed combining alcohol sales, gun sales, and a shooting range. Why not ask for a daycare center in an adjoining room?
This week I reflected on advice that was offered many years ago by former Republican State Senator Robert Welch when he was lamenting the number of unwed mothers in the state. He contended that shame was lacking in our society and pondered the value of that emotion when dealing with issues that arise from those pregnancies. My reason for thinking about the Waushara County pol and the use of shame followed hearing the news about a highly troubling email from Wisconsin Elections Commission member Robert Spindell. If ever there was a time for shame to be observed by someone in the public eye, this would be the moment for it to be keenly felt.
“In the City of Milwaukee, with the 4th Congressional District Republican Party working very closely with the RPW, RNC, Republican Assembly & Senate Campaign Committees, Statewide Campaigns and RPMC in the Black and Hispanic areas, we can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.”
“…this great and important decrease in Democrat votes in the City” was due to a “well thought out multi-faceted plan,”
Applauding and approving of reduced voter input in the election process is a sick and twisted way to view the most important way citizens communicate their views of candidates and policy ideas. To send a statement gloating about “this great and important decrease” runs counter to the ideals of our Founders and the concept of fair play we should strive for in our body politic.
There was glee in the words of Spindell about decreased voter turnout. We have witnessed in many places around the nation, especially after the November 2020 elections, that among the first items on their agendas were bills to reduce the ability of voters to cast a ballot. Many of the proposals placed a harder burden on minorities to vote and have their feelings made known at the ballot box.
It troubles me that limiting voter participation continues to be an accepted trait among conservatives. As Americans, this practice should alarm us greatly. I would like to think that more Republicans…somewhere… might understand the larger more noble calling at making sure elections are open and accessible to all voters. The perverse partisan joy at blocking voting or limiting a citizen’s ability to participate fully in our democracy is truly sickening, and disheartening.
Is there any doubt as to why more of the general public is coming to understand that Republicans feel they cannot win elections unless they suppress votes? Or rig district boundaries with gerrymandering? As such, we all need to care more about the condition of our electoral processes and the faith people must have in them so to buttress the foundations of our democracy. Whatever political stripe we label ourselves it is essential that at the end of the day, in that quiet space that is all our own, we recognize the harm and outrageousness of Spindell’s comment.
And then demand his resignation from the Elections Commission. His conduct in the fake elector scheme was more than enough reason for his ouster, but now his continued untoward behavior is a reminder that there are far better people who can serve on the commission.
Four words stuck out of the news story about Harry Wait, the Racine, Wisconsin man who seems desirous of not moving past the 2020 presidential election. The words used by Patrick Marley for the Washington Post this weekend to describe why some people are simply not able to accept the election outcome is due to the ‘the strategy of cultivating anger’.
By now most are aware of what Wait did in the summer of 2022 that garnered attention, both in the headlines and the courts.
“Wait discovered that a state website would allow him to request someone else’s absentee ballot and have it sent to any address. Election officials, who designed the site to make it easy for out-of-town voters to obtain ballots, have maintained that the site does nothing to diminish election integrity, saying anyone who attempted voter fraud would be quickly caught.
But Wait saw the potential for something nefarious and set out to prove a point. He ordered ballots under the names of two officials with whom he has long clashed — one Republican, one Democrat — and asked that the ballots be delivered to his address.“
The point of this post is not to give oxygen to conspiracy theories about supposedly fraudulent elections, as we are well aware that if such chicanery as Wait undertook were to take place anywhere from Ashland to Lake Geneva election officials would become aware of it, and take the appropriate actions to correct the problem. Rather, what I again pondered while reading the news story is the length and breadth that election deniers will go to continue their quest for something that never can be attained. It would be as impossible to fall off the side of the earth when traveling to Australia in a ship as for Wait to find the election fraud that he and his fellow conspiracists seek.
While Wait uses his time and resources on such fallacies it needs to be understood that others who want to believe Trump was foiled in his pursuit of another term by rampant election fraud, follow such personalities and buy into every word that is uttered. The damage this does to our political institutions and the foundations of our democracy is real.
When I come across someone who tries to scam me over the internet via email I often think about what meaningful project might be attained if that person applied themself with something that was logical and above board. While there are many like Wait who seem at some level to care about the nation, would it not make more sense to foster a commitment to some goal that would actually be able to show a benefit and garner public applause, rather than continual and justified rebukes.
It can be noted too often among a segment of Donald Trump’s base that resentment and anger are driving forces regarding a variety of issues. The election victory of Joe Biden has allowed for some to disregard all the guardrails of common sense and reason. With their ‘strategy of cultivating anger’, the same ingredients used by Trump and his inner circle after the 2020 election which started this absurdity, the cycle of ungrounded accusations has taken on a life of its own.
When a determined effort for a just cause bears fruit there is a need to praise the ones who led the way forward.
That is the mood from the White House and across the country as Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin received sincere thanks and kind words as President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act. Also meritorious of thanks were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Maine Senator Susan Collins. The majorities in each legislative chamber who gave their vote for passage were also part of the reason for the national uplift as the president added his name that concluded this law-making process.
It is not every bill signing in D.C. where those assembled get musical performances to highlight the significance of what was achieved by members of Congress. Tuesday those on the South Lawn were treated to musical performances by Cyndi Lauper and Sam Smith. For those in the land who yearn for how Washington once worked when crafting legislation came the knowledge that the Marriage Act was passed with bipartisan support. No matter from what perspective one looked at the ceremony there was something to cheer about with sincerity.
While watching the event, it struck me again how much progress has been made in this nation for gay rights. While having been a Biden supporter since his short-lived and, yes, embarrassing presidential run in 1987, I readily admit to great displeasure with his vote for the Defense of Marriage Act in the 90s. That political mistake from Biden made his signature of the Marriage Act even more meaningful, as it demonstrated how our society and the political culture have adapted to the requirement of including gay Americans fully into the laws of the land.
But as we know there are always reasons never to relent in that work of democracy.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas stated this summer in a concurring opinion in the Dobbs case that the same rationale the Court used to declare there was no right to abortion should also be used to overturn cases establishing rights to contraception, same-sex consensual relations, and same-sex marriage. Thomas wrote that the court “should reconsider” all three decisions, saying it had a duty to “correct the error” established in those precedents. Then, he said, after “overruling these demonstrably erroneous decisions, the question would remain whether other constitutional provisions” protected the rights they established.
Senator Baldwin has been a continuous advocate and skilled tactician within the senate so to achieve desired results with legislation. That was noted at the White House when Biden praised Baldwin by name, saying the bipartisan vote “simply would not have happened without the leadership and persistence of a real hero.” Wisconsinites could not agree more.
Those who voted against the bill and tried to thwart progress in this nation concerning civil rights will face the judgment of historians. But first, they will undoubtedly, hear from gay relatives and members of their community.
Baldwin has always earned my admiration. To be openly authentic in living her life and proving that a gay person can achieve continuous statewide election victories means more to me, perhaps, after having grown up as a gay teenager in a rural part of the state. I know many legal steps have been taken over the years to better secure gay rights. But I never forget how it felt, when younger, to know there was no protection for two adults of the same sex who loved each other and only desired the same rights as others who were able to wed. Baldwin never relented from doing her job with empathy along with an understanding of where our nation must head.
There is deep gratitude for Senator Baldwin and the many others in Congress who know the work of democracy continues.
We have been this way before. That is the message we need elected officials and politicians to impart to citizens from coast to coast.
After reading the excellent reporting from Tim Sullivan of the Associated Press, featured above the fold on the front page of Thursday’s Wisconsin State Journal, it goes without saying there is a lot to unpack. Since 2016, I have been trying to better understand what very conservative, Trump-type people, are thinking and more to the point, why they view government and society as they do. The AP news story was insightful.
This is not the first time that citizens in our nation yearned for Washington to rise to the challenges of the time. If we put aside the notion that some on the far-right fear government and disdain it at every turn, it is safe to say that the majority of people, including Republicans want their government to function at a higher level than what we have witnessed for several years. Voters want pols to be reasoned and wish the buffoonish ones would give way to effective representatives in office. We have long had political and legal scandals, though the Jan 6th insurrection was an event without parallel in our nation. There is nothing new in racial reckonings or having splintered and highly politicized and partisan news media. The idea that elites rule or are too well connected or wealthy as opposed to the masses of workers striving to just get along is as old to our national dialogue as anti-immigrant rants. What I just wrote in a few sentences sums up the tensions of the time which followed the Civil War.
We have been this way before.
Failed reconstruction, economic turmoil, pols not rising to the demands of the time and a sagging enthusiasm about our role on the international stage was part of the decades that followed President Lincoln’s assassination. Over the years, just to press down on the latter point, I have read several books where it was stressed no real foreign policy success came to the U.S. between William Sewards’ famed Alaska deal and the construction of the Panama Canal. Our current mood as Americans is not new.
We have been this way before.
What we never reflect upon in these rancorous and often highly bombastic times is that we succeeded as a nation after a long period of upheaval, and triumphantly so. Railroads and oil and stronger governmental institutions and stronger financial systems added layers of credibility.
We must be reminded of having been this way before with rebounds and great national success.
While economics as a science confounds me, economic history is rather compelling. By looking backward as the national story of our advancements, be they canals or trains or the industrial revolution, is examined comes a bottom line of truth. One that is playing out today with the information revolution. We know how fast and seemingly abrupt certain new innovations have landed in our workplace or home, from how x-rays are now read from afar, or how technical assistance via phone places our call to Southeast Asia. Changes come fast as do the implications and side effects from jobs, wages, or cultural impacts, while the political institutions make slow and stodgy adaptions. This leads back to one of the complaints from the Civil War generation who also yearned for pols who would more readily address the needs of their time.
I can understand how the people in the AP story think they have lost faith in technocrats. I would argue that if a litany of ‘internet news’ from podcasts and those who push conspiracy theories is how one gains a view of the nation and world the issue may not be with skilled and educated bureaucrats or elected pols but rather by not accessing credible news sources. The world might look less dim if the lights were turned on with sound journalism. Without a foundation of facts and data from which to start a dialogue with the rest of the nation, we are witnessing populism running amok.
So, what hope can we give to the voices from the front page of the WSJ? History says there is always a need for new thinking and modern political designs and solutions, whether in banking, diplomacy, or law. Consider that if the WSJ had printed a front page after the Civil War about farmers, and the numbers needed to feed the nation, they would have been frothing at the mouth to know their numbers in the nation would be narrowed to the single digits, percentage-wise, their land sold for urban sprawl, and the industry transformed beyond their recognition. Change is always tumultuous, and we are in such a time now.
We need to be reminded we have been this way before.
Let me start this post with something out-of-this-world. As if the absurdity of some of the political campaigns around the nation has not been enough of an example. There will be a complete lunar eclipse on November 8th, when the entire moon will illuminate coppery-red from 5:17 A.M. until 6:42 A.M. Eastern Time. Just in time for the polls opening! Not sure what the Mayans would make of this celestial event of which I take note, but I offer it as the start of this post about my predictions for the 2022 midterm elections, and the unsettled time in which we find ourselves. The fear that might have registered on the faces of Mayans as they gathered at sites near Chichen Itza to watch the moon might be akin to the dread many Americans feel about the health of our democracy as we head to the polls.
(The portion below, prior to the predictions, was written at my desk on the Madison Isthmus on September 14th. The Tim Michels quote was added at ‘press time’. I mention this as the themes of the 2022 midterm elections and their critical importance are not new. Or to be taken lightly.)
Fifty years from now researchers will better try to understand, while historians will employ their best writing skills in explaining, what happened in the midterm elections of 2022. The subtitle for books about this year will be rather pointed, basically asking how voters could not (or willfully would not) understand that fascism is a far greater concern than high gas prices and inflation? We can add our own thoughts in the current time as to why a sizable swath of conservative Americans have forsaken facts, shunned actual journalism, and disdained being informed even when given all the opportunities that one can avail themselves of in our tech-driven world. (Talk about a reason for education reform in the country!)
If these midterm elections were about policy ideas regarding equitable taxation, a robust debate about reducing our carbon footprint, or adjusting our prison systems to meet the needs of inmates upon their release voters could say, once the voting was completed and counted that win or lose, the elections had merit. A meaning. But most of these elections across the nation were not about ideas or policy, even though spending on these elections will be in the billions of dollars. (At the time of publication spending on federal and state midterm campaigns had topped $16 billion, the most expensive in our nation’s history.) Due to a continuous and willfully desired chipping away at the foundations of our political institutions and electoral processes in many races from coast to coast, the very essence of what makes our nation a working democracy is on the ballot. That is just a stunning and dispiriting fact.
Using the Big Lie from Donald Trump as the foundation with races for congress, attorney general, governor, and statehouse seats has placed nearly 305 white conservative candidates on the ballot who refuse to accept the presidential election of 2020. I make the point concerning the ethnicity of the candidates as the angry white base of Republican voters are the ones who have brought this nation to the precarious place it is today. It is that segment of voters that historians will study to understand what made them turn against democracy and the ideals of our nation. The internal danger to our nation at this time, in my estimation, has never been higher since the South sought to undermine the United States in early 1861. It was then, too, that angry whites sought to undermine democracy.
The impending threats Republican candidates have made about the fate of our future elections have not been nuanced. Many actions to curtail voters started shortly after Trump lost in 2020. They have made bold statements about their fascist intentions. Senator Ron Johnson cannot even commit to accepting the results of the election. As I publish this post Johnson stated for the press “I sure hope I can”. Elsewhere in Wisconsin, Tim Michels, the GOP nominee for governor stated it clearly with a bullhorn effect. “Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor”. This is where our democracy has landed. Badger State taxpayers saw their money spent to placate the most absurd of the Republican base by employing an ex-Supreme Court justice who I suggested at the time he served—should write his opinions in crayon. It was most remarkable when Michael Gableman aped out in 2022 that caricature!
The threat of election victories of attorney generals who are not wedded to facts or federal candidates who disregard commitments to electoral integrity means a grave threat to our future electoral rigors and accountability is in store.
Every two years, since 1980, I have placed my thoughts and predictions into print regarding the races on the ballot. I thrill to politics and history and while this biannual undertaking has always been entertaining and hopeful, I find this year it feels weighty and foreboding. The best and brightest ideals have given way to the base of the Republican Party; conservative voters and many candidates who have proven most worthy of being defined as absurd, witless, and unschooled. Election Night will be a tough one for anyone who ever cared about this place called America. Though I predict Democrats retain the U.S. Senate the damage that has been done to our democracy due to some of the Republican candidates and their voters will take a very long time to be reversed. Brown shirts are sure to be selling briskly in some places around the nation come Wednesday morning. (How soon before they round up bloggers?)
ELECTION NIGHT PREDICTIONS
While most folks will be watching the Georgia Senate race or the congressional race in Western Wisconsin, (those and many other races are ones this blogger will be keenly monitoring too), I want to call attention to what will be taking place in legislative races and which party will control one, or both chambers, of a statehouse in January. And why it seriously matters.
The Supreme Court will hear Moore v. Harper, which involves a challenge to gerrymandered congressional maps in North Carolina and in so doing very well could (given the unbridled conservative ideological whims of the Court) rule for what is known as independent state legislature theory. It is an attempt for undermining democracy being pushed by conservative zealots who brought us, Donald Trump. In a nutshell—quite literally–this crazed interpretation of the Constitution claims that state legislatures have unfettered authority to set rules for federal elections and cannot be countermanded by any other state-based entities, thus eliminating any checks and balances. In the pending court case, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the radical argument that the state legislature had the sole authority to draw congressional maps without consideration of the state constitution and without review by state courts. The court correctly concluded that the ISL theory would upend long-settled precedent and is “repugnant to the sovereignty of states, the authority of state constitutions, and the independence of state courts, and would produce absurd and dangerous consequences.” Nonetheless, continuing its radical quest, the North Carolina legislature asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and reinstate its maps.
If the court does so state legislatures could have a pathway to overrule the popular vote in presidential elections by refusing to certify the results and instead sending their own slates of electors. Consider the fact that 44% of Republicans in crucial swing-state legislatures used the power of their office to discredit or try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The data was compiled by The New York Times.
Republicans have complete control over legislatures in states that have a total of 307 electoral votes — 37 more than needed to win a presidential election. They hold majorities in several battleground states, meaning that if the Supreme Court endorsed the legal theory, a close presidential election could be overturned if just a few states assigned alternate slates of electors.
Democrats’ chances of bringing Republicans’ total below 270 are narrow: They would need to flip the Michigan Senate or the Arizona Senate, and then one chamber in both Pennsylvania and New Hampshire in 2024, in addition to defending the chambers the party currently controls.
Democrats and Republicans have set their sights on half a dozen states where state legislatures — or at least a single chamber — could flip in November. Democrats hope to wrest back one of the chambers in Michigan and the Arizona Senate and flip the Minnesota Senate. Republicans aim to win back the Minnesota House of Representatives and take control of one chamber, or both, in the Maine, Colorado, and Nevada legislatures. They are also targeting Oregon and Washington.
Now you, too, know why state legislative races far from your living room on Election Night matter.
In Wisconsin, though the legislature will remain deeply red due to the lack of redistricting reform, it seems a very steep climb to me to reach a veto-proof majority this cycle. I predict this GOP yearning is not achieved. If they were to achieve their desire it would require flipping five seats in the Assembly, and one in the Senate.
In WI 25th Senate District, to put a face to the reason why I made my prediction is that Democrat Kelly Westlund, a former staff member for Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin has run a tough and smart campaign. She has connected with rural voters—a must in this district—and will defeat Republican Romaine Quinn by 2%.Democrats have proven strong at the ballot box in this region and will do so again this cycle.
United States Senate
The United States Senate will be retained in Democratic hands. The historical tide is certainly against the party in power in the White House. The economy, a barometer for any election, is a deep concern for many voters. But there will be just enough voters in just the right states to keep one chamber of Congress in the hands of proven supporters of democracy. The effect Trump-endorsed candidates will have on the electorate in the key three states holds the primary reason as to why Monday morning quarterbacking from the GOP will simply be precious to hear. (Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona—listed in line with when their polls close.) In these admittingly close races, each of the Republican nominees was an Election 2020 denier. While I might be called out on these predictions being just wishful thinking I believe the races will break for the Democratic candidate in each case due to voters saying, ‘this is a serious office and needs a serious person’.
I also want to note the group in the nation that I will be closely following in senate voter returns. The Hispanic and Latino vote is growing, and its power cannot be discounted. Currently, 38 members of the House are Latino, and some estimates over the past weeks have placed the number at 45 following Election Night. Hispanics are the largest racial and ethnic minority group in the country. They numbered 62.1 million in the 2020 Census or about 19% of the U.S. population. There are two places I am watching for how this segment of the electorate casts their ballots. In Nevada and their unionized cities, and then in Florida’s Miami-Dade County. The former will be key to which candidate wins, and the latter is just nerdy political watching. I am not predicting that the Flordia county goes red. Not at all. But I am prepared for a bit of a shocker in the numbers that will be cast at the polls, given the election history of this place. Hispanics make up almost 60% of the electorate there, and I wish to point out that Hillary Clinton won by almost 30% in 2016. Ron DeSantis lost the county by more than 20 points four years ago. But as Florida Hispanics are proving to be more conservative what will they show us at the polls this year? You see now why this county is one to watch and why the conservative nature of some Hispanic voters will be one both political parties will need to contend with in years to come.
Georgia….If there is one Senate race that just baffles me–as well as nauseates me–it is Hershel Walker’s efforts in Georgia. In late summer, I was reading Henry Clay: The Essential American by David and Jeanne Heidler where Senate luminaries like Daniel Webster and William Seward lifted off the pages to be reckoned with as the daily newspapers in the pile on the floor alongside me reported on the latest behavior of Walker. It was a stark contrast that just could not be missed. A serious and very important elected office could be occupied by a complete embarrassment—the very type of character that conservatives railed about when welfare reform was thy issue. Now conservative Republicans have embraced and adopted into their camp for tribal purposes someone they would in any other scenario lambast. The absurdity makes for additional proof of why the GOP has become a punchline for every dinner party in the nation. It certainly solidifies national views that there is always a lower level to the basement when it comes to Republican choices for their nominees. Raphael Warnock wins by 175,000 votes. No runoff. Key will be women, and Blacks who will support Stacy Abrams, (who will lose her race for governor) and due to that sliver of religious conservatives who will not cast a ballot for Walker due to his repeated boorish behavior. Think back to how a sliver of conservatives pulled back their vote in 1992 on the national ticket. Those votes matter.
Nevada….Democrats lose a seat as Adam Laxalt wins over incumbent Catherine Masto. The reason I mention this race is how a single county in the state will prove to be the story of the night for Nevadans. Much like Sauk County in Wisconsin is often viewed as the state’s political barometer, so too does Washoe County play that role in Nevada. When one looks at the political alignment of the county it is clear the numbers do not tilt blue or red. Similar numbers of registered Republicans (100,000) and Democrats (95,000), with about 82,000 more Washoe residents registered as nonpartisan. So, keep your apps, regardless of whichever election sights you are monitoring on Election Night, keyed to Washoe County. A blowout in Washoe and it is over in that state.
Ohio….If it were not for the track record of this state leaning more conservative I would predict that a Democratic victory was possible. I would base such a call on the fact that heading into Election Day GOP Governor Mike DeWine who is up for reelection sports a strong 15% lead while senate nominee J.D. Vance is regarded as the worst campaigner in the nation. OK, maybe tied with Arizona’s Democratic nominee for governor, Katie Hobbs. Vance is lazy, disjointed in conversation, and seemingly bored most of the time. With DeWine blowing his opponent away, Vance is in a dead heat with ever-ready, energized, and truly intelligent, Tim Ryan. I am not going to engage in what-ifs during this prediction post, but if I did, the question of where the SDCC was during the past six months would be questions 1, 2, and 3 when it comes to this race. Vance wins and if he thought the campaign was tedious, let him try out committee hearings. Middle-class Republican voters lost a great deal for falling for someone who fluffs Donald Trump.
Wisconsin….Many of us grew up learning about the painful and damaging chapter in our nation’s history that was due to Joe McCarthy. Lives were ruined, some committed suicide, and national policy was twisted while priorities were skewered due to an alcoholic senator who falsely raved about communists being everywhere. Now Ron Johnson, a-COVID-vaccine-denying-Big-Lie-advocate-and-democracy-damaging Republican is doing our state another massive disservice. Regardless of the metric used, Johsnon is the most absurd U.S. Senator now serving. Using racist ads and blatant lies he easily defeats (by 3%) Mandela Barnes. The question is of course, not what was wrong with Joe, or what condition currently plagues Ron, but rather what is wrong with us…the voters in the Badger State who allow this to happen? The shame is on the electorate who falls for such rubbish on a ballot.
I have placed my predictions for the contested seats in blue or red. I do not believe, just for clarification purposes, that Georgia will require a run-off election. Due to ranked voting in Alaska, I predict that Lisa Murkowski will be reelected, and the attempt to undermine Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell through the Trump-backed candidacy of Kelly Tshibaka will fail.
U.S. House Races
The House of Representatives will be in Republican hands when the new session convenes in January. When all the ballots are counted, I predict the GOP will have a majority with 18 members.
Alaska….Democrat Mary Peltola will continue to win, as she did earlier this year. She faces, among others in the ranked voting congressional match-up, Wasilla Hillbilly Sarah Palin. Palin has worked to dumb-down her would-be voters by attacking ranked voting. Apparently, Scholastic Weekly Reader has not had a story on this manner of voting so as to assist Palin with her education. After this election, Palin will fully grasp her time on the national stage is over. As a result, we will never again need to hear her call another female candidate a “chick”!
FL-10th….Maxwell Alejandro Frost gets mentioned here for the simple reason he will be the first Gen Z member of Congressafter winning his primary victory in this safely Democratic district. Just a slice of history is the reason I note this man.
GA- 2nd…..Given there are 435 House seats it is truly troubling that only a very small number are what can be called competitive. The need for redistricting reform can be viewed all night long in America as the votes are counted. Only a small number are in question as to the outcome. One of them will be in Georgia where Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop, the longest-serving member of the state’s delegation squares off with GOP nominee Chris West. As I watched and read about elections for this November it turns out this congressional race is the only competitive one in the entire South! Think about that. Voters should demand redistricting reform. Bishop is part of the Blue Dog Democratic coalition and with his decades of experience working with white farmers and having deep roots in the Black community, he prevails.
NY-17th….Every election has one of those shockers, except this one was seen coming down the tracks for the past 2 weeks. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Maloney will be defeated. His hubris was way out of control when he selected to run in the 17th as opposed to the 18th, the one he had represented. Getting new voters to know him and like him has not been easy. It needs to be noted that President Biden won this area by 10% in 2020. Michael Lawler makes a little history with his predicted win by beating a DCCC member of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
WV 2nd…If Allen Drury were alive and writing books this plot line would be one of his creations. I only add this race as it does remind me of the famed author’s creative and lively narratives. The gay subplot in Advise and Consent crossed my mind with this race where right-wing conservative Congressman Alex Mooney, a Trump-backed Christian conservative who is anti-abortion, pro-coal, and thinks marriage should be ‘between a man and a woman’ faces his complete opposite on the ballot. The Democratic candidate, Barry Wendell, is an openly gay Jewish man who supports abortion rights and replacing fossil fuels with clean energy. The Republican wins, but at least I was able to easily place Drury, a favorite of mine, into this prediction post.
WI 3rd….Central casting could not have offered a better person to fit the role of a congressional candidate for this district had they tried. This week, as Indian Summer made for glorious afternoons in Madison, I was discussing the election with a biker in the neighborhood. I mentioned that Brad Pfaff is the modern-day Andy Hardy. He might overplay his lines a bit and strikes me at times as being over-rehearsed but Pfaff receives high praise for his strong and correct stand for democratic (small d) values. The very ones I wrote about at the top of this post. His troubling and low-brow Republican opponent, Derrick Van Orden, was at the insurrection on Jan 6th. That lack of character and his desire to foment political discord should alert voters to a glaring lack of honor. But for many conservative voters, honor, and regard for our national ideals is not as important as their tribal politics. The seat held by Congressman Ron Kind turns unpatriotic red.
Michigan….No one should need to consider if they will be kidnapped while holding an elective office. Yet, that is precisely what Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer confronted as 13 men orchestrating a domestic terror plot to kidnap her while also plotting violence to overthrow the state government. My glee for the predicted victory for Whitmer will be stronger perhaps than for any other governor…. even my own in Wisconsin when Tony Evers wins. That is due to the fact the Michigan voters, based on news stories and Op-Ed pages in their newspapers over this summer and fall paint an electorate that knows one salient fact. Given the absolute threat to democracy’s survival, there is no place for a wishy-washy citizen. Whitmer wins by 3%.
Oklahoma….I strongly sense that some news will be made in the interior of the nation that will be greeted with smiles on the faces of Democrats late Tuesday night. Democrat Joy Hofmeister will do something that many said could not happen. She will defeat incumbent Republican Governor Kevin Stitt. Yes, she is a lifelong Republican who switched parties to tangle with the ethically challenged Stitt. But she is a strong supporter of education, understood the gravity of the COVID pandemic, and will prove to be a bit of a tonic on Election Night. I suspect a very, very tight win. But still, a win for Hofmeister.
Wisconsin….Tony Evers wins by 37,000 votes. Another close victory for the Democratic candidate. Why there is ticket-splitting among Republicans for candidates on the Wisconsin ballot can be explained here. One of the striking similarities I have heard in many conversations since the August Primary is how some self-defined Republicans were upset with how Tim Michels came into the state with huge amounts of money and undid all the painstakingly grassroots efforts of Rebecca Kleefisch. In each of these conversations from stores in Madison, to a Spring Green outdoor theatre, and online chats each of these voters had one thing in common. Each was a woman. They were not able to support the Republican nominee. Add in the abortion factor and the narrow loss by Michels coming Tuesday can be better understood.
Below is the blue and red alignment of the races for governor as I predict them on Election Night.
Attorney General Races
Wisconsin….The days when this state split votes between top races are not over. 2022 will prove that case as Ron Johnson wins, but so do Tony Evers and Josh Kaul. Women and abortion are key as to why I feel able to predict this race, along with what I am growing to believe, more and more, will be a strong turnout on university campuses (especially Madison and Milwaukee). One example of my views is shaped by two women, both political campaign professionals from Boston, who flew in for a week to work the campuses locally up to Election Day. They stayed rent-free with a neighbor. The numbers of early voters from these areas are most impressive. Kaul prevails.
My Mom grew up in Arkansas, so I have for many years–since the internet came into being–followed regional news from the Northwest region of the state. So, I predict that Rogers and Bentonville residents will vote separately on allowing Sunday alcohol sales in each of the cities. Currently is it illegal to sell alcohol, unless it’s served in restaurants, bars, or breweries, on Sundays, but residents can vote to allow it. And they will.
Yes, even school board races in Arkansas get a nod this year. I do so as it aligns with the theme of this year’s campaigns, and the place our nation finds itself. At the Bentonville School District in Arkansas, the Board has five seats up for election. There are seven seats, in total. In, and of itself, that would not carry weight for this biannual posting. What is disturbing is that, once again, candidates in a school race have received assistance and endorsements from the hostile-to-facts group, 1776 Project PAC based in ……yes….New York. The candidates accepted in-kind campaigning in the form of a flyer mailed to residents and text messages to Bentonville voters. Just to put this aid into context the 1776 Project has spent between $25,000 and $30,000 total on the races, according to the news from the organization. While I desire balanced and reasoned members to be elected to school boards it must be understood that this should not be a place for conservative groups to play politics. When fact-less claims are made by conservatives about curricula regarding transgender students or how racial history is studied voters must put their foot down firmly in the ballot box and say to a bogus outside group, ENOUGH!I can only surmise that partisan outsiders pushing an agenda will be met with disagreeing voters. I predict a majority of the ones lying about CRT will be rejected by the voters. It needs noting the Bentonville School District says none of the New York group’s claims are true. I add, just as they have not been true in the many other places around the nation, where racists like to make partisan mischief.
The lack of proper education funding is most evident in 81 ballot measures facing voters across the Badger State. Parents do not desire steep cuts to programming, and school boards are being responsive to the needs of families. Hence, a steep increase in the need to head to referendums to stop the painful choices too many schools are being forced into by the legislature’s lack of action. There are eight questions before voters in Dane County and I predict all will pass with room to spare. But then comes the question about the outcome of such ballot measures in the rural areas of the state. Now that it is the law for such ballot issues to be placed on general election-type days, it needs to be asked how many conservatives who go to the polling places to support the likes of Ron Johnson, can be counted on to also support local education? No, I am not closing this prediction post with a joke. While there are 39 capital referendums facing voters be mindful that more than half of all the questions before Wisconsin voters with a school referendum (42 of them) deal with issues of staffing and utility bills. Republicans in the legislature placed school districts in this position. Many of the voters this fall voted for those elected Republicans. Will those conservative voters now do the right thing or cut off their local education funding for the sake of their political purity?
Here we go again. A person who desires to create controversy is paid to stir up a university campus, and a small segment of the student body creates headlines in a weak attempt to prove some ‘enlightened’ point. This storyline is getting very, very stale.
Every time there is a ‘fire-eater’ invited to a university campus there is another round of discussions about either the value of hearing ‘the other side’ or why shutting down ‘hate-speech’ is a necessity. This week attention is being given to UW-Madison where a conservative campus group thought it important to pay for a bully against transgender people to speak and also show his documentary. Call me old-fashioned or just way out of step, but bringing Matt Walsh, who only wishes to needlessly provoke and alienate, seems like a waste of money when a conservative scholar might have been invited that would have afforded truly engaging conversation. I find it difficult to explain why college campus groups would not invest in truly weighty thinkers, a modern-day version of William F. Buckley Jr. I desire this from both sides of the divide and then let the issues and dialogue flow.
As I surveyed the news reports from the UW campus today it was not the first time I knew there are many students and others in the community who want diverse thought presented in an adult fashion. That is not, however, what the university or this city is experiencing today. I know I am over-simplifying matters by putting Walsh, an extremist and self-promoting individual, at one end and the erudite world of the Buckley types at the other. But as one who does enjoy listening to speakers at UW-Madison I am not pulled in by the ‘hair on fire’ types but instead find the words from the likes of George McGovern or Robert Novak to have real appeal. (I was most fortunate to walk with the slow-moving Novak due to his recovering from a hip operation down the length of Memorial Union and ask about how he actually wrote columns–he told me he wrote them in one sitting–akin to one take if it were a movie production.)
What I found troubling about the local chapter of Young America’s Foundation is that while they speak loudly about ‘free speech’ what they really desire is the dissemination of harmful lies and bogus arguments that would not stand up in a robust give-and-take dialogue of ideas. I was reminded today that this grand freedom we all have of speaking freely comes with the responsibility to speak responsibly.
Free speech also allows for the ones who might be offended to counter with even better speech. That seems to have been totally lost on the ones who seemed to buy spray paint by the gross and then harm numerous places on the campus. It was more than sad to see, it was simply pathetic. Those many years ago after Novak finished with his remarks the floor was opened in the Great Hall to questions. He faced some tough attacks and verbal volleys as he sparred with students about the role of journalism and preemptive wars. Those occasions on campus when robust and sharply divided views can be talked about and debated are what truly constitute part of the educational experience.
Instead of engaging with the buffoonish Walsh in a lively debate inside the Hall about his absurd views, protesters to his appearance gave a low-brow performance on the public square with a mindless tantrum of graffiti—the very type of outlandish behavior the YAF were hoping their dollars would buy. As Monday comes to a close Walsh won this day as he wanted exposure and an angry reaction. Meanwhile, the art of dialogue and conversation, something a university should excel at, took a loss.
It goes without saying that there are many smiles around Wisconsin following the news that the Supreme Court rejected a request from a conservative advocacy operation in the Badger State aimed at thwarting President Biden’s student loan debt relief program. Since the request was flawed in its conception it comes as little surprise that conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied the emergency application to block the program. The challenge to the plan came from the Brown County Taxpayers Association.
The loan relief plan, which has strong merits for being set in motion, and is set to begin taking effect this weekend, could cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for millions of borrowers. The plan cancels $10,000 in debt for those earning less than $125,000 per year, or $250,000 per household, and $20,000 for those who received Pell grants for low-income families. The taxpayer group was ginned up and aided by the continually discontented Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a group that has never met an idea of social value it did not oppose. They had already suffered a defeat when a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the suit, saying the group lacked legal standing to stall Biden’s effort.
“Congress has granted the Secretary a more specific and unrestricted authority to create and to cancel or modify debt owed under federal student loan programs in the Higher Education Act (HEA) itself.” The legal analysis in the memo pointed to a key provision that gives the President, via the Secretary of Education, broad authority to “compromise, waive, or release” a borrower’s obligation on federal student loan debt. It should be noted that many student loan borrower advocacy organizations and members of Congress have cited this analysis to support their argument that Biden should cancel student loan debt using executive action.
Tonight, we can be glad that WILL was bounced by a conservative justice, but knowing the zeal that the perpetually litigious-minded thrive on we know more such battles are in the offing. I am, however, confident that the law is on the side of Biden and the former students in this land.