On the first weekend of June, the Wisconsin Democratic Party held its state convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Of course, the major office in contention in this midterm election is the gubernatorial race. At the Republican convention, there was no question of who the candidate would be: Scott Walker, running for a third term on a record of admirable fiscal probity and restraint.
His two terms have resulted in lower taxes, record low unemployment, and numerous legislative achievements, including a “right-to work” law and a concealed carry law. (The unemployment numbers are in large part due to the massive Foxconn assembly plant now being erected in Racine County just south of Milwaukee. To give an idea of the project’s scale, an average of 1,000 dump trucks full of gravel are traveling to the site daily.)
At the Democrats’ convention, the party was fractured in a way reminiscent of the Republican presidential line-up in the 2016 presidential campaign. Ten candidates were vying for the chance to run against Scott Walker, united only by the visceral hatred for the successful Republican governor which preceded Trump Derangement Syndrome by a good six years.
At each state convention, the highly respected site WisPolitics.com conducted a straw poll of the major race featured in each. Since no one disputes Walker’s candidacy, at the Republican convention this was the race to run against Democratic incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Leah Vukmir, a staunchly conservative ally of Walker’s in the state Senate, won the party’s nomination handily with over 70% of the vote over the inexperienced, recently converted (by his own admission) Democratic activist Kevin Nicholson.
The results of the Democratic poll were less decisive; no one approached fifty percent of the total, so no one secured the party endorsement.
The actual poll results, with thumbnail sketches of the candidates, follow:
- Kelda Roys — 23%, 189 votes: a Madison area attorney and business owner who served two terms in the state Assembly. She is virtually unknown outside of Dane County (in which Madison is located).
- Mahlon Mitchell — 11.8%, 93 votes: also of Madison, head of the state firefighters’ union, and the only African-American candidate in the list.
- Tony Evers — 1.5%, 91 votes: State superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, also of Madison. Evers has name recognition, having held statewide office for years; he is also a grey bureaucrat with a speaking style as exciting as the drone of a house-fly on a hot August afternoon and a wholly owned subsidiary of what’s left of the Wisconsin teachers’ union.
- Dana Wachs — 9%, 89 votes: State assemblyman from Eau Claire, a port and university town on the Mississippi River. Wachs was widely regard before this convention as having the best chance in running against Walker.
- Andy Gronik — 9%, 89 votes: Milwaukee area businessman and Democratic activist.
- Kathleen Vinehout — 8.3%, 83 votes: State senator, 21st district (Northwestern Wisconsin), a radical who has run for governor with about the same level of success.
- Mike McCabe — 8.3%, 81 votes: Democratic activist, another Madison apparatchik.
- Matt Flynn — 8.2%, 71 votes: Milwaukee-area attorney, the Harold Stassen of Wisconsin Democratic politics, who has run for numerous political offices, including congressman and governor, and never won.
- Josh Rade — 0.8%, 7 votes: Madison-area architect and environmental activist.
- Paul Soglin — 1 vote: Long-time mayor of Madison and an avowed fan of Fidel Castro and assorted Leftist revolutionaries.
On the basis of the fact that none of the candidates won the Democratic nomination, and of a campaign event for Mike McCabe in Milwaukee County to which this author was invited but politely declined, it is evident that hope springs eternal in the Democratic breast. A wild primary fight is in store for at least the top seven on this list in August.
It should be fun when Scott Walker learns which of these people he is actually running against.