I would have thought that one of the biggest issues would be the election for the Party chair. The incumbent Mike Tate has been a lightning rod for blame, rightly or wrongly, for the series of losses the party has won, especially on a state level. Tate is being challenged by Joe Kallas, who I guess is from the Fox Lake area. Other than that, precious little is known about him.
The only other race which is being contested is that of second vice-chair. The race is between Jeff Christensen and Jamie Shiner. As with the Tate/Kallas match up, this race also has been rather quiet.
Scott Michalak, the man who took on Joel "Get in mah belly" Kleefisch, feels he was wronged by Christensen and has been telling his beef to everyone and anyone who would listen.
Christensen, who has been striving to avoid this confrontation, realized this was no longer possible, issued this statement:
Tonight I was made aware of a Facebook post by Scott Michalak accusing me of doing wrong by him. It’s too bad that he chooses this public course, but let me state I stand by all of my actions in this situation.For the record, unaware of the allegations against Michalak, had endorsed him for that race.
First let me preface this by mentioning a process we use in the 5th Congressional District: checking the background of all candidates before the primary. We do this to remove risk of having candidates on the ballot who do not share our values. I ran this check in the spring of 2012 and Mr. Michalak came up clean. Even more so, he did not indicate to us that such an issue existed.
I also found out later that Portage County did not join the CCAP program until July of 2012, which is why the document did not appear on our first check.
In September I was notified by one of our county chairs of a potential issue for Scott on the CCAP system. We looked into it and saw a listing for a temporary restraining order (TRO) from 1999. Not wanting to judge, I had the actual case file pulled from Portage County. I received the file and immediately gave copies to the chairs of the counties in the district. A member of the DPW staff also received a copy of the file.
On the evening of September 30th, we held a conference call to discuss the case. The case is quite graphic in its descriptions of its accusations of domestic abuse. I will save you the grizzly details. Beyond the initial reaction, we noticed two key details: the TRO was put into place, and that the dismissal was not a clearance but rather was rolled into the family case.
If we had discovered this about a republican candidate, we absolutely would have made it public. Even more so, is that this is an official document that indicates the individual does not share our values.
After an extremely fast discussion we came to a collaborative and unanimous decision to suspend all support for Mr. Michalak. It was also decided that I would be the one to explain this decision to Scott in person. We figured after putting his name on the ballot, he deserved an explanation to his face.
I met with Scott that week in Jefferson, with a third party observer in the room. I gave him a copy of the file and informed him that we were pulling our support. He attempted to plead his case, which I understood in that this is a domestic “he said, she said”. However politics is the court of public opinion, not the court of law and we were dealing with a court record. I read to him a paragraph from the case and explained how this could be used against him.
I encouraged Scott to suspend his campaign for Assembly, to minimize the risk to him and his family. The last thing I thought he needed was for him and his family to relive all of this via the press. I told him I thought it was a shame, as he was working extremely hard; which is something I always respect in a candidate. As we finished the conversation he became more combative and actually referred to Erin Sievert, the chair of Jefferson County as “C**t”. I’ll let you fill in the blanks on what he said.
If you want to see the case for yourself, you’ll have to pull it; as I’m going to save Mr. Michalak that indignity. I had spoken with all of the chairs and party officials at the time and again in post mortem and am convinced more than ever that we made the right decision as leaders. I stand behind it 100%.
It's sad that it has come to this, but politics is a contact sport. Even if what Michalak claims about being innocent is true, he's got to be aware that most people sadly don't dedicated that much time or effort to learn about a candidate. All they would see or hear is domestic abuse and beating the family pet.
No, it's not fair and it's not right, but that is the way it is.