Saturday, September 11, 2010

Analysis: The Gubernatorial Primary

In just three days, the people of Wisconsin will be voting in the primary for who they would like to represent their respective political parties in November's general election. Here is a brief analysis of where things are at.


On the Democratic side, there are two main candidates. One, of course is Tom Barrett, the Mayor of the City of Milwaukee. The other is Tim John.

It is pretty safe to assume that Barrett will overwhelming win this primary. He has the support of the Democratic Party and has been getting all of the media attention. Barrett's record as mayor has been decent. He brought in Ed Flynn to head the police department and crime is down. His budgets have been balanced and he showed true leadership in a crisis, like this summer's floods.

On the downside, some people will criticize him for raising taxes, but these are the usual suspects that feel they should receive services like snow plowing or police protection without having to actually pay for them.

His primary opponent, Tim John, seems to be an affable fellow, and did raise the important issue of the intolerably high level of unemployment of African American men in Milwaukee. However, outside of that one issue, it was hard to take his campaign seriously. He tried to make one of his issues the sale of unpasteurized milk. Outside of some dairy farmers and those that want to drink the raw milk, it was not a big point among most Wisconsinites. To make it even more irrelevant, Governor Doyle resolved the issue during the year, making it a non-issue.


The Republican gubernatorial primary is most definitely the most heated in the state, and for yours truly, the most fun to watch.

On one hand, you have the party-anointed boy king, Scott Walker. Walker ran in 2006, but dropped out of the race when the party support went to Mark Green. But he never stopped campaigning, and spent the next four years making the circuit, attending functions and using his bogus bike ride to keep his name out there. Because of this, the party arbitrarily appointed him as their great hope.

His opponent, Mark Neumann, was a U.S. Congressman until he left that seat to run against Russ Feingold. He lost that race, but only barely. After that, he went on to run a successful home building business and started three private schools.

This race is too close to call, despite what the party faithful would have you to believe. If Walker wins the primary, the Republicans lose the advantage of having a non-Milwaukeean running against the mayor of Milwaukee. Walker also has a lot of baggage to carry all the way to the finish line that makes him an easy target for the Democrats. Some of Walker's baggage includes, but is in no way limited to:
  • The O'Donnell Park tragedy, where a concrete facade fell and killed a teenage boy and left a woman with a life-altering injury.
  • The mental health complex, where years of budget cuts and staffing shortages allowed the facility to become run down and unsafe. Even more alarming is the fact that poor management and short staffing allowed female patients to be repeatedly sexually assaulted, ending up in at least one pregnancy.
  • Walker's poor management forced the state to take over the Income Maintenance Program, spreading another Milwaukee County burden among all of the state's tax payers.
  • Walker's inability to create jobs allowed the Private Industry Council to be moved from the County's control to the City of Milwaukee.
  • Walker's budget cuts to the transit system has cost up to 40,000 people losing access to their jobs.
  • Walker's current budget is deep in the hole, and that hole is only getting deeper.
  • The multiple gaffes committed by his campaign, including racially-tainted tweets, insensitivity to the victims of the O'Donnell Park tragedy, and being found to be lying in his commercials
  • A $400 million debt in the form of pension obligation bonds, which still doesn't cover the shortfall the county faces.
Mark Neumann does not provide the easy target that Walker does. He does not have the career politician tag and has a track record as a successful businessman. His success has allowed him the luxury of being mostly self-financed, which relieves him of the taint of special interests unlike Walker, who has received big money from people like the Koch brothers, who are the financial engine behind the TEA Party movements.

However, due to having the party support, Walker will most likely have a much more effective GOTV system, which gives him that edge, but it is questionable whether even that will be sufficient to make up for all of Walker's deficiencies.

In a way, I hope that Walker wins. It will make it easier for Barrett to win the governorship. It will also give this lowly site a few more weeks to enjoy some mild popularity. On the other hand, I don't know if Milwaukee County, its tax payers, or its most vulnerable citizens can afford, much less survive, much more of his campaign stunts and poor management.


  1. It's pretty funny that for us radical leftists, Neumann presents more problems but Repugnants seem determined to have Scott Walker as their candidate.

  2. It would be a relief for Milwaukee County to shed County Executive Walker from his 'leadership' (pun intended) position with the county. But since that puts the entire state at risk of failure, it's best he doesn't become Governor.

  3. A correction is needed...

    In just three days, the people of Wisconsin will be voting in the primary for who they would like to represent their (strike---respective) a political parties in November's general election.

    Wisconsin has an open primary, so people from any party can vote for a candidate...doesn't have to be from your party of choice. Caution, if you vote on the left or right keep it there; crossing over (voting one from each party in any race) may negate your vote.

  4. You completely miss the dynamics of the election.

    Milwaukee is not a factor. Nor are Milwaukee politics. Any Democrat will always win Milwaukee. My dog would get the same number of votes in Milwaukee as Barrett will if he ran as a Democrat. The black vote will always follow whoever's name is on the ticket. The issue is how the Neumann/Walker issue plays with the rest of the state that will make the difference. Here, Walker is at an extreme advantage in that he can use the existing GOP system much better than Neumann.

    Neumann is much easier for Barrett to run against than Walker. Barrett will be cast (accurately) as a ho-hum ageing second tier tax and spend liberal against an aggressive low tax political reformer in Walker in an era of budget crisis. Barrett is a poor to fair Democratic candidate at best. Neumann is seen by a large number of Republicans as a bit of a nut and his candidacy would depress the Republican vote, thereby making for a close election. Barrett could win this election if he could expose some of Neumann’s goofier opinions, bait him into saying something stupid ( which is reasonably easy) and not stirring up a lot of controversy. Barrett vs. Walker is a 4 point loss for Barrett…6 to 9 points if the economy continues its present decline.

  5. LOL! Walker needs to get better apologists.

    Walker is a failure. He is personally responsible for losing over 50K jobs with just his transit cuts. And I listed a lot of the things he is going to be vulnerable about.

    Yes, people don't like to pay taxes. But they also demand a certain level of competence, such as protecting vulnerable women in the mental health facility.

    And there is much, much more coming. If Walker manages to maintain his narrow lead, say hello to Governor Barrett.