In The News
GOP primarily delays day of reckoning in six July contests
By Dominique Paul Noth
Editor, Milwaukee Labor Press
Posted June 30, 2011
Voters in Milwaukee area’s Senate District 8 have a simple choice July 12 -- the Real Democrat Sandy Pasch over a Republican ringer posing as a Democrat.
Rep. Pasch and her supporters were actually itching to use that July Tuesday to take on incumbent GOP Sen. Alberta Darling, whose chirping rhetoric as co-chair of the joint finance committee failed to disguise how far she has departed from traditional middle-road Republican standards and the fundamental needs of her district’s children. If America can’t cut its way out of debt on the national level, why did Gov. Walker think he could do that by decimating education in Wisconsin under the fabrication of punishing teachers, taking hundreds of dollars away from every kid in the classroom?
But Darling did more than steer Walker’s budget through the legislature – she contributed slash and burn ideas so extreme that they clearly cost money as well as potential votes, forcing him into vetoes and her into pretending she never proposed such goofs as paying police offices under criminal indictment – which she did – or arguing that she never fully understood what she was proposing, such as the later abandoned cuts in SeniorCare and the continuing destruction of the waiting list for cost-saving FamilyCare.
Perceptive voters in her districts have now joined the protests or quietly sneer at her advertising blitz to the contrary. Yes, it was the loss of bargaining rights that upset unions, but she frankly doesn’t have that many union members in her district. The voters upset, as any stroll down suburban streets will reveal, are her own former supporters who now say she is demeaning the rights of teachers she pretends to respect. They are facing the reality that she has long abandoned the centrist rationale that earlier generations of voters on the North Shore had expected of her.
Darling has hardly shown remorse for her now typical hard right veer. Instead she helped orchestrate a delay in judgment day – and she is still trying to delay it even longer.
It is her longtime supporter and contributor who is now pretending to be a Democrat, a brazenly undemocratic maneuver--- with a small D -- that mocks her previous welcome of the recall petitions as a chance to outline the differences between her and Pasch. Now she is running from the showdown, going to court to further delay the election and hoping that Aug. 9, the now scheduled date, will give her a chance to run more ads, more evasion and create more distance from her actual actions in the legislature. What allows her to wait until August is this unseemly game of the GOP turning all six July elections into primaries on the Democratic side.
Darling and the state Republican Party are not acting embarrassed, as they should, at lying about party affiliation to force a primary. They hope to make Pasch supporters spend money on the primary if they can find enough Republicans craven enough to pretend to be Democrats simply to vote for their stand-in. It’s actually an insult to the principled families who have long respected their Republican affiliation, but desperation brings strange measures as well as bedfellows in politics.
Now Pasch backers have to vote for her twice, once July 12 and once in the expected race that would actually put Darling in a contest (expected Aug. 9 barring court delays).
The GOP actually introduced this strategy (and virtually all the media has turned to the accurate term “fake Dem: to distinguish the bastardized pedigree in this competition) in all six of the July recall elections.
The Democrats once feared the GOP would pull out one or two of these promised fake Dems to suddenly turn an expected primary into the real final deal, allowing the GOP to pour protective ad money in. But now that all the fake Dems have cleared the final legal hurdles, the Democrats have dropped what I personally thought was a bad idea in the first place, the presence of real Democrats as placeholders in every July recall to prevent more GOP mischief.
Genuine Republicans should, of course, be ashamed to participate in this charade, but supporters of the real Democrats suspect some won’t be embarrassed. So the Democrats are determined to act protectively, reaching out to friends and relatives to get them out to vote. Fortunately many citizens come from local families or vacation within the state, so such relational campaigning could prove quite powerful in all these contests. So they are asking everyone to start thinking of who they know that lives in these areas and then get on the phone, get in the car -- certainly check out a variety of Internet hookups – to get the word to every legitimate voter to protect their own future and return Wisconsin to respectability in the face of the GOP party’s dishonesty.
Here is a list of the July 12 Democrat primaries – and a final ironic note about one recall backfire that now puts the state Republican party in the hotseat.
Senate District 8
Incumbent Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) has ducked facing any opponent until at least Aug. 9. July 12 Democrat primary pits Real Democrat Rep. Sandy Pasch vs fake Dem Gladys Huber. Region includes Assembly Districts 22, 23 and 24 – (a few wards of) the city of Milwaukee, also Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, River Hills, Bayside, Mequon, Brown Deer, Menomonee Falls, Thiensville, Germantown, Butler and Richfield.
Senate District 2
Incumbent Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Allouez) has ducked facing any opponent until at least Aug. 9. .July 12 Democrat primary pits Real Democrat Nancy Nusbaum vs fake Democrat Otto Junkermann. Includes Assembly Districts 4, 5, 6, Oconto, Shawano, Brown and Outagamie counties.
Senate District 10
Incumbent Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) has ducked facing any opponent until at least Aug. 9. July 12 Democrat primary pits Real Democrat Shelly Moore vs fake Democrat Isaac Weix. Includes Assembly Districts 28, 29, 30, Pierce, St. Croix, Polk and Burnett counties.
Senate District 14
Incumbent Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) has ducked facing any opponent until at least Aug. 9. July 12 Democrat primary pits Real Democrat Rep. Fred Clark (D-Baraboo) vs fake Dem Rol Church. Includes Assembly Districts 40 41, 42, Waupaca, Waushara, Marquette and Green Lake counties.
Senate District 18
Incumbent Sen. Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) has ducked facing any opponent until at least Aug. 9. July 12 Democrat primary pits Real Democrat Jessica King (deputy mayor, Oshkosh) vs fake Democrat John D. Buckstaff. Includes Assembly Districts 52, 53, 54, Fond du Lac County and such cities as Oshkosh, Algoma, Friendship, Taycheedah and Fond du Lac.
Senate District 32
Incumbent Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse) has ducked facing any opponent until at least Aug. 9. July 12 Democrat primary pits Real Democrat Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) vs. fake Democrat James D. Smith. Includes Assembly Districts 94, 95, 96 and counties of Trempealeeau, La Crosse, Vernon and Crawford.
JULY BACKFIRE FOR GOP
Legitimate disarray on the GOP side meant they couldn’t settle on one real candidate once they mustered enough signatures to recall three (out of the eight) Democrats eligible to face the voters. Those signatures were much harder to come by and verify, so these elections were scheduled a week later, July 19, by the Government Accountability Board.
And all three looked to turn into primaries, but this time legitimate ones on the Republican side because Tea Party, conservatives, moderates and traditionals could not agree on who should go into combat. Many noted GOP regulars declined the invitation.
So two of those July 10 contests are now Republican primaries -- in Senate District 12, Robert H. Lussow will face Kim Simac, who has a colorful Tea Party and family background, the survivor to take on Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover) on Aug. 16. In Senate District 22 south of Milwaukee, Republican candidates Fred R. Ekornaas and Jonathan Steitz, are vying July 16 to survive to Aug. 16 contest against highly regarded incumbent Sen. Robert Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie).
But the expected Republican primary disintegrated in Green Bay’s 30th Senate District when the GAB bounced the best known Republican, a sitting member of the Assembly, who couldn’t muster the minimal 400 legitimate signatures though he keeps s fuming that 15,000 people signed recall petitions. Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) rather stupidly collected only 424 names, 26 of which were bounced, while most candidates turned in around 700. Now he has gone to court seeking dispensation – perhaps figuring that as a member of the legislature he is above the law, the same legal hurdle everyone else jumped over – including the unknown Republican remaining in the race.
The consequence? Veteran Democrat Sen. Dave Hansen – highly praised over the years by all manner of citizen groups and senior citizens for his work – now has a finale July 16 unless Nygren can twist a judicial neck in his appeal. That pits Hansen against David VanderLeest, a wind developer convicted of misdemeanor charges and accused of domestic abuse he blames on a “bad marriage” and corrupt judges. Apparently “real” Republicans can be as strange as Republicans pretending to be Dems.