‘Twas the day after primaries…
Well, it’s always kind of fun to survey the situation as we head into the home stretch toward the general election, so why not add to the oversupply of punditry and analysis? And since all politics are local, let’s start there.
Diane Sennholz wins a new term as Clerk of Courts with a stunning 78 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary (and she faces no opposition in the general.) Call it what you want, but that’s about as solid as it gets in this business.
Tom Tiffany took the GOP nomination in the 35th Assembly District and he will face Democrat Jay Schmelling in the general. That became an open race when Rep. Don Friske (R-Merrill) decided not to stand for re-election. Both Schmelling and Tiffany have run before and that should be an interesting race to watch. Tiffany has run in the Americans for Prosperity/Tea Party type circles for awhile now, so we’ll find out if that has an impact for good or for ill. There is no reason for both state parties not to go full bore on trying to capture that seat. There are people who supported Cordova who will not necessarily swing over to Tiffany.
Likewise, look for the pedal to be to the metal in the Mary Williams-Dana Schultz race in the 87th Assembly District. Republican incumbent Williams has never won by much and Schultz is running an aggressive campaign with solid backing.
Democratic Senator Jeff Plale lost a primary challenge in the 7th Wisconsin Senate District, showing that it is not only the Republicans that will occasionally enforce a bit of party orthodoxy. And if you think what happens in South Milwaukee doesn’t mean much up in the north, consider the fact that the palace coup that left Senator Russ Decker as Senate Majority Leader was a one-vote deal, which is exactly what Senator Plale had to contribute. Look for possible repercussions come January.
While we’re on the subject of legislative leadership, Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson showed his campaigning moxi with a convincing win in the Democratic Lieutenant Governor’s race. For an outstate candidate to roll that well over Milwaukee and Madison candidates was something to see. (Of course, Wausau Democratic Rep. Donna Seidel is now Assistant Majority Leader. With Nelson leaving the house, her status in the next session is something that will remain to be determined.) On the GOP side, unabashed conservative Rebecca Kleefisch trounced the field in the Republican Lieutenant Governor race to join Scott Walker on the gubernatorial ticket. (She is married to 38th Assembly District Rep. Joel Kleefisch and hails from the Republican bastion of Oconomowoc. They’re both TV people, by past occupation.)
Tom Barrett campaigned actively during the primary season, even though he had no signficant opposition on his way to the Democratic nomination for governor. Mark Neumann’s willingness to blow millions and Scott Walker’s need to throw some money back at the GOP challenger leaves Barrett in better shape for campaign funds as things head toward the November general election. Here’s something interesting: Neumann won 70 percent of the counties in Wisconsin, but lost convincingly overall because Scott Walker took so much of the vote in the heavily-populated southeastern portion of the state. That is a feat that will be far more difficult to repeat — let’s just say impossible — against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. This is going to be the clash of the titans.
Nationally, there is an interesting feud going on between the Republicans and their out of control TEA Party fringe. What looked like it was shaping up to be a GOP pickup in Delaware was placed into peril when Christine O’Donnell of the TEA party element knocked off establishment GOP pick Rep. Mike Castle. That would be fine in Oklahoma, but it may be fatal to the Republicans’ chances in far more moderate Delaware. “This is not a race we’re going to be able to win,” says Karl Rove (to the howls of protest from Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, et. al.)