Last week this liberal blogger who lives on the Madison isthmus urged very conservative Kevin Nicholson to splash into the Republican race for governor. I did so after a top state Republican told the business owner to ‘stay in his lane’ and forgo entering the campaign.
The words made publically by Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos were not the most well-crafted by one who aims to show his skills in the political arena.
“If Kevin Nicholson is listening — you need to not run for governor,” Vos said during an interview at a Wednesday event hosted by Wispolitics.com in downtown Madison.
I found those words so demeaning towards Nicholson that I had actual empathy for a politician that I could never vote for or support in any meaningful way other than urging him to run.
I suspect everyone clearly understands how it would feel to be told by another person within your profession or industry to just stay low and do not get any big ideas. Stay at the kid’s table and just be content with where you are now.
Regardless of which political party one calls home, there was a degree of understanding across Wisconsin about how Nicholson felt being instructed by the Speaker to stem any notion of seeking the Republican nomination for governor this August.
Nicholson has created a conservative set of beliefs for his political appeal and proved in his bid for the Senate nomination not to shy away from being an aggressive contender. Though he did not prevail there was no doubt he knows how to force issues and swing political rhetoric. His punches over the years at political insiders and leaders have landed on receptive ears within the Republican Party. These days that accepting audience is larger than ever.
On Thursday, Nicholson threw his hat into the ring as a “conservative outsider,” and will use it as a line of attack on his opponents who wished to restrain his voice in the campaign and limit the choices on the ballot for voters come August. Without a doubt, this campaign will create not only an expensive contest worthy of headlines but also a real race for the heart and soul of Wisconsin Republicans.
There is no way to discern if Vos honestly believes that former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is the best candidate for the November election or would prove to be an effective governor if elected. It seems more probable that conversations within the power circles over the recent months centered on how not to fracture the base and unwind the spool of thread they consider all that is required to defeat Tony Evers this fall.
But Nicholson felt that conversation about policy and the election ran far short of what is needed to win and govern. And he is rightly smarting over the words and tone from Vos.
While we all can differ about politics I suspect across the state today there is a ‘good for you’ feeling among residents about Nicholson entering the race.
Is this what bipartisanship feels like?
And so it goes.