Tag: failed campaign

Do Wisconsin Democrats have a potential savior from a gubernatorial campaign trainwreck?

Yesterday, it was reported that former Wisconsin State Senator Tim Cullen of Janesville is going to seek the Democratic nomination for Governor of Wisconsin, with Cullen set to launch his gubernatorial bid sometime next month. If Cullen does enter the race, he will likely be the second candidate to run for governor as a Democrat; a former state legislative aide by the name of Bob Harlow is currently running for governor as a Democrat.

However, I strongly believe that neither Cullen nor Harlow can defeat one of the worst of the worst in the Republican Party, incumbent Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who is likely to run for a third four-year term.

Regarding Cullen, he is probably best known for briefly leaving the Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Caucus in 2012 for not getting a committee assignment that he wanted. That sounds like something that Donald Trump would do, and it tells me that Cullen has very poor leadership skills and is very self-centered. There’s also that part of the now-infamous “David Koch” prank call where Walker bragged to a guy who he incorrectly believed to be right-wing billionaire David Koch that Cullen was a “pragmatist” and praised Cullen. Any Democratic primary television advertisement attacking Cullen from the left practically writes itself.

Regarding Harlow, I have been notified by a California-based political source that Harlow ran for a U.S. House seat in California in 2016, and, during that campaign (which he failed to advance to the general election), Harlow and canvassers working for Harlow’s campaign openly hurled insults at voters by calling them “corporatists” because they told the Harlow campaign that they were going to vote for the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo. While Harlow was once an intern for former Republican Wisconsin State Senator Dale Schultz, Harlow is a lot more progressive than Schultz. The only Wisconsin-based political figure that I’m aware of who has praised Harlow since the launch of his gubernatorial campaign is Monona Grove School Board member and political blogger Jeff Simpson, who is known for saying what he thinks about the Democratic establishment in Wisconsin and telling it like it is (example here). However, Harlow has a proven track record of being incompetent at political campaigning, and it’s not like Wisconsin has any affinity for people from California moving to their state to run for public office. I fear and suspect that the Trump White House and/or foreign influencers (such as the Russian government, Wikileaks, and/or other foreign-based entities) may try to aid Harlow in his gubernatorial bid.

It’s important to note that, judging by the Twitter pages of some of the Democratic elected officials in Wisconsin, they do not appear to be circling the wagons around Cullen, in contrast to their reaction to Mary Burke’s entrance to the 2014 gubernatorial race in Wisconsin, where Burke had near-total support from Democratic state legislators from the outset of the campaign. This pretty much guarantees that at least one other candidate with considerable Democratic Party political connections in Wisconsin, political experience, and/or personal wealth is going to enter the gubernatorial race, which would mean a competitive primary between Cullen, Harlow, and at least one other candidate. If Mary Jo Walters could get somewhere around 45% or so of the vote against John Lehman in a primary for lieutenant governor, then it would not be out of the realm of possibility for Harlow to win the gubernatorial primary with a plurality. Harlow is completely unelectable in a general election, because the GOP would paint him as a carpetbagger from California if, by some chance, he won the Democratic nomination.

It has become increasingly clear to me that Wisconsin Democrats need a savior to step up to the plate to save the party from a potential trainwreck in the gubernatorial race next year. We know from past experience that Hillary Clinton/Jim Doyle-style neoliberalism is not going to win elections for Democrats in Wisconsin, and the Democratic primary electorate in Wisconsin is very left wing and absolutely distrusts the current Democratic establishment. Ron Kind is not a progressive by anyone’s imagination, so he’s no savior. Susan Happ is a proven loser, so she’s no savior. Kathleen Vinehout couldn’t win the Democratic nomination in the gubernatorial recall election, so yet another proven loser. I don’t know enough about Dana Wachs or Joe Parisi to tell you anything about either of those two.

The ideal political savior for Democrats in Wisconsin would be someone who is strongly progressive, and, therefore, ideologically similar to Harlow, but is considerably more politically skilled than Harlow. One might point to State Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) as a potential savior for Wisconsin Democrats, given her fearless, no-holds-barred style of progressive politics. However, if she runs statewide, it would probably be for attorney general, not for governor, although she’d be an absolutely awesome candidate for either office. Late last year, Wisconsin-based political blogger Chris Walker mentioned State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) as a potential gubernatorial candidate, and, if she were to run for governor, I would endorse her campaign without hesitation. She is one of the most progressive state legislators in the entire country, and, having read some of her op-eds, she seems like someone who genuinely cares about…no pun intended…making her state great again. However, Sargent could probably get elected to the state assembly for two-year terms for the rest of her life if she wanted to, so I highly doubt that she’d run for statewide office, but she’s never publicly ruled out a gubernatorial bid to my knowledge. If, by some chance, she were to seek the Democratic nomination for Wisconsin’s highest office, Sargent would probably win over nearly all of the voters who would be open to voting for someone like Harlow, and she’d have a good chance of winning the nomination, provided that she were to run a true statewide campaign. I don’t know enough about people like Dave Hansen or JoCasta Zamarripa to tell you about whether or not they’re interested in a gubernatorial bid or give you an opinion about them.

Long story short, Wisconsin Democrats can do a lot better than Tim Cullen or Bob Harlow.

Meet the Democrats who took Donald Trump’s money

I absolutely hate Ted Cruz’s guts. As a candidate for president, he has openly supported religious discrimination and does not believe in separation of church and state, for starters. He’s also what I consider to be the least electable Republican presidential candidate, except for maybe Jeb Bush or Ben Carson.

However, I will say one thing favorably about Ted Cruz, and that is the fact that his campaign is going after Donald Trump for propping up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party with his checkbook for many years. Granted, Cruz’s people aren’t all that great at spelling and grammar, but here’s the individuals and groups affiliated with the Democratic Party in some way, shape, and form:

  • Jimmy Carter – $1,000 – Carter was the 39th President of the United States, elected in 1976, lost re-election in 1980. Carter has not sought public office of any kind since losing the presidency. Carter has actually built a progressive reputation since leaving the White House, although he did deregulate the airline industry and gave out a huge capital gains tax cut to the wealthy as President.
  • Max Baucus – $2,000 – Baucus was appointed to the U.S. Senate after originally being elected to it in 1978 and represented Montana in the Senate until 2014, when he resigned to take a political appointment from President Barack Obama in order to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China. Baucus was notorious for being a virulent opponent of single-payer health care during his time in the Senate.
  • Shelley Berkley – $1,000 – Berkley served seven terms in the U.S. House from 1999 to 2013. Berkley represented the Las Vegas area of Nevada, where Trump has substantial business interests, in the House.
  • Joe Biden – $1,000 – Biden, who is from Delaware and represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for decades, is currently Vice President of the United States. Vice President Biden ran for president twice, in 1988 and 2008, losing both times; in fact, his first presidential campaign was derailed after he was caught plagiarizing then-British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.
  • Erskine Bowles – $1,000 – Bowles, who is from North Carolina, served in multiple positions in the Bill Clinton Administration, and he also ran for U.S. Senate in North Carolina twice, losing both times. Bowles was one of the architects of the Simpson-Bowles austerity plan that included, among other things, cutting Social Security benefits.
  • Hillary Clinton – $9,500 – Hillary was a First Lady of the United States, a U.S. Senator from New York, and a U.S. Secretary of State. New York is Trump’s home state and a state where Trump has significant business interests. Hillary is currently seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, running against single-payer health care and reinstating Glass-Steagall financial regulations that kept commercial and investment banks separate. As Secretary of State, Hillary helped develop the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade giveaway that would allow Vietnam, a country where the average worker is paid far less than the average worker here in the U.S., to effectively dictate U.S. domestic policy by allowing investors to sue in special courts. Hillary also ran a presidential campaign in 2008, losing the Democratic nomination to now-President Obama after, among other things, she pandered to white racists throughout her campaign.
  • Tom Daschle – $4,000 – Daschle, who is from South Dakota, is a former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, and he was Senate Minority Leader when he was defeated in the 2004 Senate election in South Dakota. Daschle was a lobbyist for the health care industry after leaving elected office, and he wrote a book opposing single-payer health care.
  • Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) – $116,000 – The DSCC is an entity established by the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus to funnel money to Democrats running for Senate seats.
  • Chris Dodd – $3,000 – Dodd is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Dodd ran for president in 2008, losing in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, and he’s now a lobbyist for the movie industry.
  • Democratic National Committee (DNC) – $15,000 – The DNC is the main national organization of the Democratic Party, currently chaired by U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. The DNC has openly tried to sabotage the Sanders presidential campaign, most notably by briefly cutting off the Sanders campaign’s access to the DNC voter file in violation of the contract between the Sanders campaign and the DNC vendor responsible for maintaining the DNC’s voter file.
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – $46,050 – The DCCC is an entity established by the U.S. House Democratic Caucus to funnel money to Democrats running for House seats. The DCCC ran web ads promoting President Obama’s proposed cuts to Social Security benefits in 2013.
  • Dick Durbin – $1,500 – Durbin is the Assistant Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate, representing Illinois. Illinois is a state where Trump has significant business interests.
  • Fritz Hollings – $3,000 – Hollings was a U.S. Senator from South Carolina for nearly four decades. Hollings had a history of making racist and anti-Semitic comments as a Senator. Hollings voted against the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • Ted Kennedy – $7,000 – Kennedy was a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for over four and a half decades before dying in office in 2009. Kennedy ran against then-incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 Democratic primaries and caucuses, losing the nomination to Carter. Kennedy supported the 2007 George W. Bush-backed immigration reform plan that would have established slavery-like guest worker programs, and he also supported the 2001 No Child Left Behind law that destroyed public education in America.
  • Patrick Kennedy – $2,500 – Kennedy, who is a son of Ted Kennedy, represented parts of Rhode Island in the U.S. House for nearly two decades. Kennedy is also a former DCCC chairman.
  • Harry Reid – $8,400 – Reid is currently U.S. Senate Minority Leader, representing Nevada in the Senate. Reid has publicly praised Trump in recent months, and he has called for the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision, which protects abortion and reproductive rights, to be overturned.
  • Rahm Emanuel – $50,000 – Emanuel is currently the Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, and, before that, he was a U.S. Representative and a DCCC chairman. Prior to his first mayoral bid, he was President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff. Rahm played a role in the cover-up of the video of the police shooting of LaQuan McDonald, and he’s strongly supported privatizing city government services in Chicago.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand – $4,800 – Gillibrand currently represents New York in the U.S. Senate.
  • Terry McAuliffe – $25,000 – McAuliffe is currently the Governor of Virginia. Prior to that, he was the DNC chairman the last time that the Democratic presidential nominee lost a general election for president.
  • Elliot Spitzer – $21,000 – Spitzer was Governor of New York for a little more than a year from 2007 to 2008 before resigning from office after his involvement in prostitution became public knowledge. Spitzer ran for New York City Comptroller in 2013, losing in the Democratic primary.
  • Andrew Cuomo – $84,000 – Cuomo is the current Governor of New York. Cuomo is very right-wing on economic issues, including openly railing against public employee unions and supporting tax breaks for businesses. Cuomo disbanded a special commission that he established to root out corruption in New York State politics after the commission was actually doing its job.
  • David Dinkins – $7,750 – Dinkins was Mayor of New York City, New York for four years in the early 1990’s. Dinkins lost re-election in 1993 to Republican police brutality apologist Rudy Guiliani.
  • Chuck Schumer – $7,900 – Schumer is currently the senior U.S. Senator from New York. Schumer has publicly opposed the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal that is designed to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iran.
  • New York State Democratic Committee (NYSDC) – $116,000 – The NYSDC is the official state-level Democratic Party organization for New York State. In it’s current form, the NYSDC has acted as an arm’s length organization of corrupt New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
  • Anthony Weiner – $4,450 – Weiner has also gone under the alias Carlos Danger. Weiner was U.S. Representative from New York City for over a decade until he was forced to resign after he was caught sending sexually explicit pictures of himself via Twitter to a female follower of Weiner’s Twitter page. Weiner ran in the 2013 New York City mayoral election, losing the Democratic primary after he was caught sending sexually explicit pictures of himself to a different woman.
  • John Kerry – $5,500 – Kerry is the current U.S. Secretary of State. Prior to being appointed by President Obama to the Secretary of State’s post, Kerry served as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts for nearly three decades, and, before that, Kerry was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts for nearly two years. Kerry also ran for President in 2004, losing to Republican incumbent George W. Bush. To this day, Kerry is the last Democratic presidential nominee to lose a general election for president.
  • Joe Lieberman – $4,000 – Lieberman is a former U.S. Senator from Connecticut. Lieberman was a Democrat until 2006, when he ran under Connecticut for Lieberman political party banner after losing the Democratic primary in his re-election bid, and Lieberman went on to win the general election that year. Lieberman also was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee on the unsuccessful Al Gore/Joe Lieberman ticket in 2000, and Lieberman himself ran for president in 2004, losing the Democratic nomination. Lieberman has publicly supported Republicans, including speaking at the 2008 Republican National Convention that nominated John McCain for president and Sarah Palin for vice-president, a ticket that went on to lose in a landslide to the Obama/Biden Democratic ticket.
  • Carolyn Maloney – $4,000 – Maloney has represented parts of New York City in the U.S. House since 1993.
  • Bill Nelson – $2,000 – Nelson has represented Florida in the U.S. Senate since 2001. Nelson was the only Democratic Senator to vote against defunding the torture programs that were run by Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in committee in 2007.

Donald Trump has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to prop up the Republican wing of the Democratic Party for decades. Now, he’s running for the Republican nomination on a platform of bigotry against anyone who isn’t a white racist, enacting Nazi Gemrany-like measures against Muslims, and giving tax breaks to rich people like himself. I encourage people to vote and caucus for Bernie Sanders, if their state has not already held a Democratic presidential nomination contest, in order to send a loud and clear message to corporate Democrats that we’re sick and tired of Donald Trump’s Democrats running the party into the ground.

Joe Biden’s “Susan Happ” problem

With Vice President Joe Biden likely to run for the Democratic presidential nomination, I do want to bring up an historical parallel between Biden’s likely presidential bid and Jefferson County, Wisconsin District Attorney Susan Happ’s failed bid for Attorney General of Wisconsin last year.

The parallel between Biden and Happ is this: Both Biden and Happ are/were, prior to running for higher office (or, in Happ’s case, after winning a statewide Democratic primary in Wisconsin), viewed favorably by voters not because of their actual track records or positions on the issues, but because they liked the candidates personally. In Biden’s case, he’s seen by many voters across the country as an approachable guy with an interesting personality. In Happ’s case, she was seen by many voters in Wisconsin as someone who rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a television ad.

Happ’s campaign to become Wisconsin’s top prosecutor fell apart not long after Happ won a contested Democratic primary with a narrow majority of the vote. Republicans and the far-right corporate media in Wisconsin viciously attacked Happ’s record as a county-level prosecutor, making her look like a corrupt prosecutor who gave out light sentences to Democrats and political cronies, when, in reality, it was a major distortion of Happ’s record. The sustained attack on Happ damaged her campaign and allowed Republican racist Brad Schimel to be elected Attorney General of Wisconsin.

Biden has a legitimately awful record, especially as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, including, among other things:

  • Helping put right-wing extremist Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court despite serious sexual harassment allegations against Thomas
  • Voting to repeal the Glass-Steagall regulations on banks and other financial institutions, which led to the Great Recession
  • Voting for the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA), which prohibited federal recognition of same-sex marriages prior to being ruled unconstitutional by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court
  • Publicly claiming that “abortion is always wrong”
  • Helping enact legislation, signed into law by George W. Bush, that made it harder for Americans to file for bankruptcy
  • Helping enact legislation that expanded the prison-industrial complex in the United States
  • Voting for George W. Bush’s unjustified Iraq War

It wouldn’t take much for one of the Democratic presidential candidates already in the race to brand Biden as an awful politician, if Biden were to run.

I believe that there is an important lesson that is to be learned from the failure of Susan Happ’s campaign for Wisconsin Attorney General last year. When one runs for public office, his or her track record can, either fairly or unfairly, be used against him or her by any political opponent. While Joe Biden’s decision on whether or not to run for president is entirely Joe Biden’s decision to make, I would caution him that his record as a U.S. Senator would likely come back to haunt him politically.

Wisconsin’s largest newspaper takes note of my work exposing Nation Consulting’s ties to right-wing political groups

Daniel Bice, a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, wrote this piece, which is mostly about Jason Rae and Martha Laning, two of the five candidates for Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW).

Bice mentioned two of my blog posts about Thad Nation, the founder of the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based consulting firm Nation Consulting, and tens of thousands of dollars that Nation indirectly gave to right-wing political groups through a front group called Coalition for the New Economy. The right-wing groups that received funding from Coalition for the New Economy have opposed Democratic candidates and progressive causes, and some of those groups have received funding either directly or indirectly from the far-right Koch Brothers. Nation employs Jason Rae, one of the candidates for DPW Chair, although Rae, to my knowledge, hasn’t been directly involved with Coalition for the New Economy. However, Bice forgot to mention that Rae either is or was an associate director of Wired Wisconsin, a Thad Nation-led political front group that has advocated for legislation that would make it easier for landline telephone companies to either eliminate or increase the price of landline telephone service in Wisconsin. Rae joined Wired Wisconsin in mid-2010; it’s not known to me whether or not Rae is still directly involved with Wired Wisconsin. Obviously, nobody who works for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel is going to mention anything about Rae’s ties to Wired Wisconsin, since that organization has paid for advertisements in that newspaper.

Bice also mentioned the fact that Martha Laning, one of Rae’s four opponents, is a relative newcomer to the DPW, having only joined the DPW in early 2014, and that Laning didn’t even know that one had to join the party and pay party dues in order to become an official Democratic Party member in Wisconsin until right before she became a party member. To be fair, I don’t know exactly how to join the Democratic Party in my home state of Illinois (I’m not an official Democratic Party member here in Illinois), and I’m guessing that very few people outside of political insiders know how to officially join their home state’s Democratic Party organization. Additionally, Bice brought up the fact that Laning hasn’t voted in every election in Wisconsin that she’s been eligible to vote in. While I’ve always been a civic-minded person since long before I was eligible to vote (in fact, the only election I’ve missed since turning 18 years of age was the 2008 Illinois primary for president and other partisan offices, and that was because I forgot to register to vote in time for that election), not everyone grew up with an interest in politics. However, Bice made absolutely no mention of either of the two main reasons why I’ve been critical of Laning. First, Laning claimed that Scott Walker and his Republican allies “have good ideas” in a 2014 television ad for her failed state senate campaign, despite the fact that Walker has driven down wages, busted unions, stripped rights from Wisconsinites, and has led the fight to destroy Wisconsin’s middle class since being elected governor. That is clearly an example of appeasement of Republicans by Laning. Second, Laning had to be pressured by DPW officials into supporting an increase in Wisconsin’s minimum wage. That tells me that Laning isn’t a sincere progressive and doesn’t appear to have any real political values.

I’ve received numerous Facebook friend requests and admiration from many Wisconsin progressives for my work in exposing Thad Nation’s ties to right-wing political groups that have waged a political war on Wisconsin’s middle class and progressive traditions. I thank everyone who has supported my work!