Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Van Hollen vs. Bucher in the cage


WISN-AM’s Mark Belling devotes his weekly column this week to the statewide attorney general’s race. (I’m glad I changed topics at the last minute for my column appearing today.)

Belling picks Falk to win over Lautenschlager on the Democratic side. But the buzz is about what Belling wrote on the Republican side:

The Republicans are another story. Almost every party leader is backing J.B. Van Hollen, the bland former federal prosecutor in the western part of the state. Van Hollen isn’t a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only), but he does represent the country club establishment wing of the party. This crowd gets the willies when confronted with an actual true-believing conservative. That’s where Van Hollen’s opponent, Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher, comes in.

Bucher is, as former Gov. Lee Dreyfus describes him, a pit bull. When he believes people are guilty of crimes, he tries to put them in jail. Sometimes this means going after people with connections. Bucher is also an abrasive guy who rubs a lot of people the wrong way. He can come across as sanctimonious and edgy. But while Van Hollen was twiddling his thumbs in the U.S. attorney’s office in Madison, Bucher was putting criminals in prison.

Van Hollen is the guy who managed not to find any corruption in the Doyle administration or, for that matter, anywhere else. Ask a Van Hollen supporter to name one prominent case prosecuted by their guy. They can’t think of one. By contrast, the prosecutor in the eastern part of the state, Steve Biskupic, has been a marauder bent on cleaning up the rot that has tarnished state and local government. Bucher is a lot like Biskupic. Van Hollen is more like Milwaukee County District Attorney Mike McCann.

The question is whether the party’s base, which wants a real attorney general and not a wimp, will ignore the preachings of the Republican bosses. It’s a tossup.

For those who want a chance to listen to the candidates themselves, Charlie Sykes of WTMJ-AM is hosting a debate between Bucher and Van Hollen 9:00am this morning on the air at their state fair location.

(By the way, I haven’t endorsed a candidate and won’t endorse a candidate, although I would be lying if I didn’t say I’d love to have four years of using a horse whinnying sound effect every time Paul Bucher’s name gets mentioned.)

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