Fall may be coming, but politics stay hot…

Dupont Circle Escalator

It was steamy in Washington DC Wednesday and meanwhile, out in the hinterlands, more than 13,000 Huffington Post readers voted in a poll that asked whether the First Lady has the right to wear shorts. The answer was yes, but with only 58 percent of the vote strongly in favor on a website that may only be visited by right-wingers while they’re doing opposition research. Mrs. Obama was in Arizona, but if she would have stayed home in DC, the need for something cool would have been just as apparent, I can assure you. If you like Singapore’s weather, you would love Washington DC in August. The Obamas picked a great time to go on vacation and the shorts flap just goes to show that their detractors will pick ANYTHING to make noise about. With most senators and congressional reps home in their districts for the August recess, things are a little more laid back in the house and senate office buildings, too. (And no, I was not traveling at either taxpayer or company expense.)

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Coming up this week, it will be interesting to see what comes of the “town hall meeting” planned by Americans for Prosperity at the Rothschild Pavilion Thursday. Advocacy journalist John Stossel of ABC News is an unabashed Libertarian and there’s no doubt that having him as a headliner will bring a few folks in. Heck, I’d probably go to see him myself, under different circumstances – (but I’ll listen to Lyndon LaRouche, too, for that matter.) On the other hand, calling it a town hall meeting doesn’t make it so. AFP is a group with a hard-line conservative agenda and anyone who thinks that they’re bankrolling this as some kind of foray into random public participation should think again. This is a political rally with a distinctly partisan purpose and nothing more. AFP has been working on trying to deep six current Democratic health care reform proposals on Capitol Hill and by extension – just my opinion, mind you — to put supporters in a disadvantaged position in the 2010 elections, too. The latest interesting twist? The Wausau Daily Herald reports that 7th District GOP congressional Dan Mielke has been “uninvited” to speak.

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Speaking of political rallies, it looks like the Duffy wing of the Republican Party in these parts is doing their damnedest to get people to coalesce around their candidate. Shooing Mielke off the high-profile AFP event this week is at least the second public flap the Mielke has responded to with some objections. Earlier, a number of party leaders sent out a memo trying to enforce the idea that Republican candidates shouldn’t be bloodying each other up too much in the run-up to the 2010 September primary. In general, it’s good advice – but what fun is that? Meanwhile, Mielke’s campaign was putting out robocalls last week inviting people to 3:30 p.m. events on the 400 block on August 29 and 30 that kind of SOUND like Tea Party-type gatherings, but may not be. Even keynote speaker Pat Snyder didn’t seem to know much about the events, judging by his quote in City Pages. Interesting.

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Mark O’Connell of the Wisconsin Counties Association as a gubernatorial candidate? We could do worse. The guy is smart, knows government, has a ton of passion and is well known among Madison insiders as well as county government types around the state. WAOW-TV 9 asked him about it outright this week and he didn’t dismiss it. He also opened his remarks to the Marathon County Board of Supervisors Thursday with comments about it being the type of position where a person like him would have the opportunity to make the contributions he would like to make.

But running for governor is a tall order for anyone, speaking of contributions. When all of the campaign cash from all of the candidates in the next Wisconsin governor’s race is counted up sometime after the November 2010 election, the total will likely fall somewhere between $30 million and $50 million. What that means is that if you can’t raise $10 million, you probably can’t win. On the other hand, Russ Feingold was a dark horse candidate at this point in the 1992 U.S. Senate race (speaking of opponents who tear each other to pieces.)  And speaking of Russ Feingold, he continues his annual listening sessions in every Wisconsin county, despite the fireworks that are occurring at some town hall meetings around the country.  Marathon County’s will be in a real town hall in Poniatowski Tuesday.  It will be interesting to see who shows up.

JR

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