With all the attention given to the political right in next week’s elections, there isn’t a lot of focus for things that are happening on the left. But down in Madison’s 77th Assembly District, there is a race going on that many people might have thought would be over with the Democratic primary. With firebrand progressive Democratic Rep. Spencer Black deciding not to run again after 26 years in the legislature, there was never much question that the 77th would not be a place for the GOP to look for a pickup. Dane County Board Supervisor Brett Hulsey emerged as the winner in a 5-way Democratic Party in September, so game-set-match, right? Well, no.
Challenging for the seat in the general election is Ben Manski of the Green Party. Even where they exist, Green Party candidates are mostly just for fun in most places because a lot of people don’t even know their names until they see them on the ballot when they go to the polls. That’s not the case in Madison this time around. Manski has now picked up endorsements from the Daily Cardinal and the Capital Times. Hulsey has picked up the endorsement of the Wisconsin State Journal, which may turn out to be a mixed blessing in this bastion of the left, which includes much of the resident UW-Madison student body.
Hulsey is being beat up for some consulting work he’s done relating to a coal-fired power plant and Manski has picked up affirmative nods from some stalwarts of the progressive wing of the party, including Ed Garvey, former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and Secretary of State Doug LaFollette. All are known for their aggressive approach to environmental issues and so is Manski. While there are plenty of Democratic Party names that aren’t on Manski’s list, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re on Hulsey’s. There was a brouhaha over claims of support by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, State Rep. Mark Pocan and State Senator Fred Risser when it turned out not to be the case, (as far as anyone could tell.)
Hulsey did manage to pick up the endorsements of State Representatives Donna Seidel, Mike Sheridan and Peter Barca. But what’s really telling is that Baldwin and Risser — who compete for the favor of the same voters Hulsey and Manski are fighting over — have both found that endorsing their own party’s candidate may not be their best move, so they haven’t. (Risser has reportedly said that he WOULD be endorsing Hulsey, but it’s getting awfully late in the game now, isn’t it?) As for Spencer Black, he said he would vote for Hulsey; (some have said not very loudly.)
So on Wednesday morning, amidst the carnage of a right wing tsunami across the country that will almost certainly see the Republicans recapturing the U.S. House of Representatives and cutting deeply into the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, there will be a little story within the story: whether Democrat Brett Hulsey can prevail over an element of the voting public that is coming to the polls looking for something to the left of him. Along with Lisa Murkowski’s write-in campaign in Alaska, it has the potential to be one of the more unusual situations in the 2010 midterm elections.
UPDATE – The Isthmus Daily Page reports:
Things just keep getting worse for Brett Hulsey. Today Rep. Spencer Black sent a statement to media outlets concerning a “made up” quote that was attributed to him on a Hulsey campaign flyer:
Voters in the 77th Assembly District received a mailing from the Brett Hulsey campaign on Friday. That mailing contains a prominent quote attributed to me.
The quote attributed to me in that mailing is not my quote. In fact, when Brett Hulsey asked if he could attribute that quote to me (one that I had never written or said) I made it clear he could not since it is not my words.
I am very disappointed that this made up quote was used despite my disapproval.
Ouch. Will he ever go so far as to rescind his endorsement?
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And this from the Cap Times, laying things out in greater detail:
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