Monday, August 26th, 2019

The Leinenkugel choo-choo


My interview with Dick Leinenkugel in the Waukesha Freeman last week caught the attention of the Terrence Wall campaign and WISN’s Mark Belling (7:11 in).

An e-mail from the Wall campaign yesterday:

Dick Leinenkugel was a quick study under his old boss, Jim Doyle. It only took him 18 months to acquire Jim Doyle’s sense of honesty:

From today’s Waukesha Freeman:

Leinenkugel says he’s opposed to building the high-speed train from Milwaukee to Madison right now because there are other budget priorities. But if we are going to have a high-speed rail system, better that the trains are built here in Wisconsin.

From WTMJ in June ’09:

‘Here I am 50 years old and I’m still afraid of my dad. How am I going to tell him this that I’m leaving the family business to enter Governor Doyle’s cabinet?’ He asked me, ‘what are you thinking?’ I took him through my rationale. He never gave me his blessing that day, but he would be very proud of what I’m doing. One of the biggest things he’d be most proud of is the high-speed rail network. My dad was a railroad buff. When he retired he joined the local rail commission in the northwestern part of the state to bring back passenger rail. He didn’t know I took this trip to Spain but he would have been thrilled knowing that I joined the governor to try to bring back high-speed rail in the corridor from Chicago to Minneapolis.

Bob Delaporte
Communications Director
Wall for US Senate

Thursday, Mark Belling, who takes the time to compliment me, echoed Wall’s attack and told his listeners what I wrote previously about Leinenkugel:

There’s a blogger that I actually have respect for, name’s Wigderson. He says all Leinenkugel has to do is give a couple of speeches and Republicans will be fine with him. If that’s true, if the average Republican only needs two speeches to warm up to a member of Jim Doyle’s cabinet, then the average Wisconsin Republican doesn’t stand for anything either. And I happen to think they stand for more than that.

On Friday’s show, Belling read most of my newspaper column on the air, saying that I appear to be “all-in” for Leinenkugel. Belling assessed each of the likely candidates and announced Leinenkugel’s new nickname, “Dick Doylenkugel.” He also announced the link of what he says graphically illustrates Leinenkugel’s record as Commerce Secretary:

Belling said Kanavas is likely to announce he is not running next week.  Meanwhile, Ron Johnson will form an exploratory committee and launch his campaign in a couple of weeks.

Leinenkugel is expected to announce this coming Monday, April 25th.  That means the the campaign’s timetable suddenly sped up because the candidate himself thought the announcement would be in May when I spoke to him on Monday.  They probably figured that since they’re getting attacked, they might as well be actually in the race.

A couple of points.

One, I’m not a Leinenkugel backer.  I’m not endorsing anyone.  It’s a long time between now and September and we’ll wait to see what develops.

Two, I don’t think you can call Leinenkugel a flip-flopper on the high speed rail issue.  At first glance it looks like he flip-flopped, but what he said was that there are other budget priorities.  That would imply that he is fundamentally for high-speed rail, just not right now (his actual position as of last week).  Also, saying that his dad would be happy with his efforts to bring high-speed rail to Wisconsin is not the same as saying that Dick Leinenkugel supports high-speed rail.  It just means that his dad likes trains.  My dad would be happy if I started rooting for the Green Bay Packers, but that’s not going to happen, either.  Yes, I’m parsing, but Leinenkugel did work for Jim Doyle, so parsing is par for the course.

Not that I’m in the habit of giving advice to campaigns (oh wait, I am), but it would seem to me that the wiser attack for Wall would be to accuse Leinenkugel of being in support of high-speed rail, period.  The only way that attack would not work is if Wall has the same position.  Does Wall need the phone number of the Waukesha Freeman’s ad department to rail on rail?

Meanwhile, Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate demonstrates he’s out of his depth again.  He attacks Leinenkugel for supporting, “…the stimulus, high-speed rail, clean energy legislation and stem cell research and then walked away from his own support.”  If Tate doesn’t want Republicans to nominate Leinenkugel, don’t tell them his position has changed.  Tell them Leinenkugel supports those things, and that’s why Tate welcomes Leinenkugel to the race!  Especially as we haven’t seen any evidence yet that Leinenkugel has changed his positions on those issues yet.  Plenty of time for Tate to accuse him of flip-flopping “to take extremist positions”  after he wins the nomination.  Attacking him now is only a sign Leinenkugel’s a candidate that can beat Russ Feingold.

And memo to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: at least Wispolitics and the Wheeler Report run press releases separately instead of sticking a reporter’s byline on it.  Maybe they should try it!  Because if this was an actual news article, wouldn’t Patrick Marley be obligated to get a response from the Leinenkugel campaign before reprinting Tate’s talking points?

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