Monday, October 20th, 2014

Things heating up in Wisconsin

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Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date: Oct 25, 2012; Section: Opinion; Page: 8A

Things heating up in Wisconsin
Kedzie beating part of toxic political atmosphere

We’re now 12 days away from Election Day. If you had any doubts about the importance of Wisconsin in the election, you can erase them now.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida will be in Waukesha today. Rubio is one of the young stars of the Republican Party and was on the short list to be former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s running mate.

Americans for Prosperity is bringing in Ann Coulter in the days right before the election, including a stop here in Waukesha on Nov. 3. The controversial Coulter was an early backer of Romney’s, and it’s unlikely she would be making an appearance in a state that wasn’t in play.

(She also has a new book, so don’t be surprised if she says something controversial.)

The highly respected Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia Center for Politics has moved the race to the toss-up category in his Crystal Ball report. He based that decision on the Marquette University Law School poll that showed the race is practically tied.

Regarding the national race, Sabato said President Barack Obama should find the national poll numbers troubling.

“The problem for the president is that in the current average – 47.4 percent for Romney and 47.0 percent for Obama – Romney is closer to his peak than Obama is to his. This points to an enthusiasm gap for the president, as does the persistent registered voter/likely voter gaps in public opinion polls, which almost always show the president doing better among the registered voter pool than the smaller likely voter pool.”

Many of the national polls have been assuming Democratic turnout at or near 2008 levels. While Republicans should not count on their turnout reaching the percentages of 2010, Sabato’s warning about Democratic enthusiasm should temper Democratic enthusiasm over the remaining polls that show Obama ahead. Watch for those polls to start showing a narrowing race, too.

If Romney ends up winning Wisconsin, how smart will his decision look to add Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate?

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In last week’s column, I wrote about how a sign was stolen from my yard and what it said about incivility in politics. For me, it was just a yard sign, but I mentioned the case of a candidate for state Senate, Rick Gudex, whose signs had been vandalized at his home and his son’s truck pelted with eggs.

Why would someone do such a thing? For some people, they just become incensed at the idea that someone would dare disagree with them.

Now we have the case of Sean Kedzie, the son of state Sen. Neal Kedzie, who was allegedly attacked by two people who were going to take the signs off his lawn. The attack was brutal, and we should all be grateful that Kedzie was not more seriously injured, and that Kedzie’s neighbors interrupted the attack.

Let me repeat myself from last week.

If we can just grasp the idea that Election Day is not the end of the world foretold by the Mayans, we may be able to discuss rationally the really huge issues confronting this country.

If democracy is to work, then both sides should be free to participate without worrying about their personal safety. Wisconsin is moving away from being a healthy democracy because some on the left refuse to acknowledge the rights of those who disagree with them.

I’m glad to see the Democratic Party condemn the attack. I’d like to see more Democratic Party elected officials also speak out against the attack. Political violence hurts the whole society regardless of the party that it’s directed against.

Let’s be clear that uncivil conduct, such as the occupation of the state Capitol by protesters and attempted intimidation of Republican legislators and staff, has certainly added to a poisoned political atmosphere that feeds incidents like the assault on Sean Kedzie.

Let me respond to the Madison protesters’ chants. This is not what democracy looks like. This is what fascism looks like.

The presidential race and the Senate race in Wisconsin are heating up. That doesn’t mean violence should rise with them.

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