Sunday, August 25th, 2019

Oh, what a night


Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date: Sep 16, 2010; Section: Opinion; Page: 10A

Oh, what a night
Walker, Kleefisch roll; cautionary tale for Waukesha Common Council

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

So much for Mark Neumann’s resurgence, Democratic tampering in the Republican primary and the supposed collapse of Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker’s campaign Tuesday night.

Tuesday night was a return of the Walker magic and, dare I say it, he sounded a bit like former Governor Tommy Thompson with his optimism. I told fellow columnist Jessica McBride that if Walker said, “Today is a great day to be a Republican in Wisconsin,” Thompson would have to sue for copyright infringement.

Despite all of Neumann’s money and his pretending not to be a career politician engaging in negative campaigning, Walker showed with his resounding victory how much people believe him when he says, “Believe in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s voters understand the state is moving in the wrong direction. They understand that electing Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett would be tantamount to a third term for Governor Jim Doyle.

Barrett understood that, too, when he tried to distance himself from his own party Tuesday night. When he told an audience in Oshkosh it doesn’t matter to people which party is responsible for picking up the garbage, they just want it picked up, Barrett was hoping people will start forgetting that it was Barrett and his fellow Democrats that made the mess.

Or as local blogger Steve Eggleston said on Twitter, the voters do care if the garbage ends up in Lake Michigan.

For all the complaints we have heard through the years about how there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, the only thing these two candidates will have in common is that they both work in Milwaukee County.

* * *

If there is a message from the lieutenant governor’s race, it’s don’t forget about the social conservatives. Prior to Tuesday night, many of the so-called experts and party insiders were predicting a win by state Rep. Brett Davis. Instead, Oconomowoc’s Rebecca Kleefisch won handily.

The weekend before the election, I made a few phone calls checking on the support for a few candidates and discovered how much the social conservatives had united behind Kleefisch. For all the talk about Davis’ record on voting for a Doyle budget, against the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, and for ethanol, it was the social conservatives that did him in.

While Davis was able to claim the joint endorsement by Wisconsin Right to Life, the other social conservative organizations like Wisconsin Family Action and Pro-Life Wisconsin joined Wisconsin Right to Life in endorsing Kleefisch. Add in the tea party and talk radio, and it isn’t hard to see why Kleefisch was able to win.

Pretty good for someone who finished last in the endorsement contest at the Republican state convention earlier this year.

* * *

Even as Republicans were setting themselves up for November, local politics in Waukesha received a small jolt when Alderwoman Peggy Bull lost to newcomer (to the state) John Kalblinger in a recall election. While Kalblinger didn’t offer much in the way of a platform, Bull was presumed guilty by the voters and sent home before next spring’s regular election.

It’s a cautionary tale for the aldermen. In light of the controversies over the role of the city administrator and over the water issue, they really need to reach out to the community and explain what is going on.

While open houses and public hearings are nice, I strongly urge them to get out and meet their constituents again, lest they become the next targets for a recall. That means knocking on a few doors while the weather is nice.

Now that we are beginning to see what the city budget will be, it is more important than ever for the aldermen to reach out to their constituents.

It is also a good time for Waukesha residents to remind their aldermen that it is not just the tax rate that is important. It is the tax levy that Waukesha residents really pay.

If the aldermen don’t come to you, you can call them.


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