Monday, November 20th, 2017

Wisconsin story big at Las Vegas conference


Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Jun 21, 2012; Section:Opinion; Page Number:8A

Betting on Romney’s running mate
Wisconsin story big at Las Vegas conference

This last weekend I was at the RightOnline conference in Las Vegas. It’s a conference sponsored by Americans for Prosperity (AFP) for bloggers and online conservative activists.

The conference was held at the Venetian Hotel. When I checked in, the front desk clerk cheerfully told me the conference organizers chose that hotel because it was the only non-union property on the Strip.

I would have been just as happy at a union location in Omaha if the soda wasn’t $2.50 per bottle.

I paid for the trip out of the Wigderson family’s conference and education budget which, unlike Mayor Jeff Scrima’s similar fund, uses absolutely no tax dollars to advance my personal education.

Maybe next year the organizers could hold the RightOnline conference in Cambridge, Mass. Wouldn’t that be fun?

The Venetian is a very nice hotel and my room had plenty of space for a working writer like me to stretch out.

The biggest drawback to the hotel was that it was the Las Vegas home for “The Phantom of the Opera” musical. The hotel insisted on playing the music from “Phantom” in the elevators non-stop. I’ve often said Andrew Lloyd Weber was fit for nothing better than an elevator, and now I’ve been cruelly paid back for those remarks.

I understand I was not the only Waukesha resident out in Las Vegas. Jeff Barta of Nice Ash in downtown Waukesha was also visiting the city at a different hotel while competing in the World Series of Poker. I understand he did quite well and we should all stop in to hear the story when he returns.

I didn’t quite have the success he did gambling because I did not do any gambling at all. I did, however, lose some money in the gift shops.

For the Wisconsin contingent, the trip was something of a victory lap. It seemed like almost every speaker at the conference had a Wisconsin recall story to tell even if they never set foot in the state.

Attendees of the conference praised us for winning the recall election (I told them I had help) and asked us how bad it had gotten.

Brian Fraley of the MacIver Institute, Luke Hilgemann, state director for AFPWisconsin, and David Fladeboe, the communications director for AFP-Wisconsin, gave a presentation Saturday afternoon explaining how they worked together to change public opinion in Wisconsin.

One question on the minds of the attendees that Fraley, Hilgemann and Fladeboe answered: If a principled conservative like Gov. Scott Walker could get his reform package passed and grow in stature politically, could it be done elsewhere?

The answer, of course, is yes. It takes the right kind of public education campaign, and it takes politicians like Walker that are willing to stay the course when the opposition goes crazy, as the political left did in Wisconsin.

We should ask, could it be done nationally? Again, if the reform movement has the right messenger to explain the reforms to American voters across the country, and if the politician is willing to stay on track to see the reforms through, there is no reason we could not duplicate the success of Wisconsin on a national level.

It wasn’t just the success of the recall election victory that had people thinking about Wisconsin. People were also talking about Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Sen. Ron Johnson.

But many people were talking about the Ryan plan, and how important it is to improve our country’s fiscal health. And when I think about duplicating the success of Wisconsin’s reforms on the national level, another Wisconsin politician is ready to do just that.

This week, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was in Wisconsin, a state he can now win thanks to the failure of the recall movement. On the stage with him was the politician with the plan to bring our country back to prosperity and fiscal health. Not only does he have a plan, he could help Romney win Wisconsin and win the election in November.

If I had thought to place a bet in Las Vegas on who will be Romney’s running mate, I would have bet it all on U.S Rep. Paul Ryan. Don’t be surprised if Romney makes the same bet.

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


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