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Challenges rise in political races, chili

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Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Nov 19, 2009; Section:Opinion; Page Number:8A    

Some last-minute blogging  

Challenges rise in political races, chili

 
    The holidays are approaching fast. The Christmas Parade is this Sunday already. Time to clear the table with some last-minute blogging before the turkey arrives. Unlike Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone, it has hardly been quiet around here.


    * * *

    State Rep. Mark Gundrum, R-New Berlin, announced he will take on Circuit Court Judge Richard Congdon in the spring elections. Gundrum is sure to run a strong campaign given his standing with the Republican Party and its conservative base.

    Congdon is trying to cling to the bench by claiming being a judge has nothing to do with being a Republican or a Democrat. Does Congdon really expect anyone to believe that it was just coincidental that Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s pick for a judge happened to be the chairman of the Democratic Party in Waukesha?

    After watching his party lose election after election under his leadership in Waukesha County, he knows how hard it is for a Democrat to win here. It does not mean he should be allowed to get away with complaining about partisanship when it was partisanship that got him the appointment in the first place.

    * * *

    When the Vatican announced La Crosse Bishop Jerome Listecki will be the Milwaukee Archdiocese’s next archbishop, it could not have been good news for the nascent Tom Barrett campaign for governor.

    Listecki is known for taking on politicians that support legalized abortion. Last year, Listecki sent a public letter to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to rebuke her for misstating Catholic doctrine on abortion. This year, Listecki joined a group of bishops that called on Notre Dame University to withdraw an invitation to President Barack Obama because of his support for legalized abortion.

    Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is Catholic but is also in favor of legalized abortion in nearly all circumstances and has the congressional voting record to prove it. As Barrett campaigns for governor, he will be confronted with issues concerning the beginning of life, including embryonic stem cell research.

    It will be interesting to see, too, how Barrett answers the question of whether the state of Wisconsin should continue to give domestic partner benefits, and if Listecki makes that issue into a public fight.

    Barrett’s likely Republican opponent is Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, a pro-life Baptist. It would be ironic if Listecki engaged in public criticism of the Catholic Barrett and it helped the Baptist Walker.

    * * *

    The Public Policy Forum is out with a new poll, the People Speak Poll, for the Business Journal of Milwaukee. While they are hyping the results regarding a poll question on a nonexistent proposal to create toll roads, the real story in the survey is the loss in confidence in state government.

    The poll asked residents in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties if they thought the state was on the right track or the wrong track. Belief that the state is on the right track dropped from near 65 percent before Governor Doyle took office to 41 percent now.

    Surprisingly, only 41 percent of Milwaukee residents feel their city is on the right track, too.

    As the incumbent party, Democrats cannot be feeling comfortable with that news. Democrats, especially with a Milwaukee candidate like Mayor Tom Barrett, need a strong turnout in Milwaukee County to offset what Republicans get elsewhere in the state. If the residents don’t feel that their mayor has them on the right track, they are going to be less enthusiastic about turning out to give him a promotion, especially when he’s in the same party as the one in control in Madison.

    * * *

    I met Joe DeKlotz, the candidate taking on state Rep. Scott Newcomer in the Republican primary in the 33rd Assembly district, when I attended the Village of Wales Municipal Chili Cook-Off. DeKlotz impressed me as a potentially serious challenge for the personally troubled Newcomer.

    DeKlotz is under no illusions that he can win without raising money. He knows Newcomer spent over $50,000 to win that seat originally, and DeKlotz plans to raise the money necessary to be competitive.

    By the way, congratulations to my sister-in-law Pauline Wigderson for winning in the vegetarian chili category, and third place overall.

    (James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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