Politics Friday: a new meaning for wingnut…

It’s been an interesting week, from Washington DC to Wausau. On the local front, Tuesday primaries were held in four of the 12 Wausau districts for city council. I don’t recall if we’ve had more than that in recent history, but it shows a high level of interest. David Nutting and Dan McMullen advanced in the 10th District, with Nutting putting up especially good numbers. Sherry Abitz and Tom Wolfahrt moved forward in the 11th and Abitz had a strong showing. Both Nutting and Wolfahrt currently serve on the Marathon County Board, so voters should have some familiarity with them.

Sherry Abitz has a couple of terms in on the city council and has been pushing a program of neighborhood involvement for several years that I think serves her and her constituents well. McMullen is the enigma in all of this, but somebody had to come in second in that primary.

In the second district, Romey Wagner and Greg Foye will face off in the general election. Wagner is an interesting person with a great background that includes working on water projects in Kenya. Foye has been active in the Longfellow neighborhood group and breaking down the vote, it appeared that his votes clustered in that area. In the 3rd, Jonathan Havel will be running against Chuck Szalewski. This district includes downtown Wausau, but nobody would have known it by the early campaign discussion so it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Each city council district has between 3,300 and 3,400 residents.  In a monument to voter apathy, the turnout ranged from a low of 95 to a high  of 123 TOTAL votes in each of these district primaries.  That’s pretty sick.  (But in much higher participation area primary, Dennis “Cosmo Guy” Lerch picked up 25 percent in the primary to face Dick Lupton for Merrill Street & Weed Commissioner, who had 45 percent.)

On the state level, the Marathon County Democratic Party hosted two candidates for Lieutenant Governor at their Thursday night meeting, Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski and Tony Sanders of Madison. Zielinski has a “Buy American” stump speech that may appeal well to labor.  Sanders has a significant resume that includes stints as vice president of economic Development and public policy of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce as well as serving on the staff of 2nd District U.S. Congress Rep. Tammy Baldwin.

A lieutenant governor campaign is a little strange because voters don’t directly elect the person. Instead, it’s a party function and it creates an entirely different dynamic. In my early estimation, either would probably have the chops for the job. Sanders comes off as someone who is extremely genuine and has a very good picture of the duties. He also provides a strategic geographical advantage to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett that won’t exist if he shares his ballot position with another Milwaukee political figure.

Congressman Dave Obey has been in the 7th District this week and a few of us had the opportunity to speak with him at length on Wednesday, which is always interesting and thoroughly educational. He’s an advocate of putting a dollop of ice cream in after-dinner coffee. (Sorry, but I’m not going to get into the meat of the discussion except to tell you that I think Obey is a thoroughly remarkable, passionate legislator and someone that this district is very fortunate to have for a host of reasons that range from global to local.)

In other news from the 7th, half-term ex-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin endorsed Sean Duffy. Two words: big deal. It’s not like she was going to endorse Obey and it’s not like Dan Mielke has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the primary, let alone the general election.

CPAC is meeting in Washington this week and one of their prominent sponsors is the John Birch Society. Well, at least they’re honest — and if people want to sit around listening to Glen Beck, Coulter, Cheney and the rest, well, it’s their dime and you can’t underestimate their commitment.  And speaking of commitment, we’re wrapping up a week that gave a whole new meaning to the term “wingnut.”  Joe Stack was a guy with tax issues who decided to fly his airplane into an IRS office building on a suicide mission, evoking imagery of Oklahoma City and 9-11 in one murderous, fell swoop. Taxes are tough. Especially for people with airplanes.

JR

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