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Allen, Rosner top contenders

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Waukesha Freeman Thursday, August 7, 2014 Page A5 Opinion

Candidates have just five days

Allen, Rosner top contenders

Only five more shopping days left in the primary campaign season. Have you picked a candidate?

As former Waukesha Mayor Larry Nelson observed the other night, in a field this large, normally one or two candidates are just filling space on the ballot. In this race, all six have been actively seeking your vote. However, some have been better at it than the others.

Scott Allen and Brandon Rosner are perceived to be the two front runners in the race. Rosner has raised the most money with Allen not too far behind. Both were about even going into the final two weeks of the campaign in cash on hand.

If the other candidates thought they could make up ground by out-working the two leaders, fat chance. Both Allen and Rosner have been actively campaigning door-to-door.

Allen and Rosner have both been the beneficiaries of outside interest group spending, unusual in a primary for a safe seat. The Realtors are advertising on the radio for their fellow Realtor Allen. Meanwhile, Physicians for a Responsible Government has been advertising for Rosner.

The only other candidate to cause a fundraising stir is Alderwoman and County Supervisor Kathleen Cummings who pumped $10,000 of her own money into the race. She spent the money on direct mail and telemarketing.

It’s probably a case of too little too late. It’s doubtful that amount of money will overcome the financial advantage of Rosner and Allen, let alone Cummings’ reputation for quirky politics.

Had Cummings been a stronger candidate, her opponents probably would have targeted her conspiracy theory fueled opposition to reducing the size of the Waukesha County Board. She also opposed a new health clinic that is a joint project of Waukesha County, the city of Waukesha and the Waukesha School District, which is expected to save taxpayers millions of dollars.

However, the election is probably between Allen and Rosner, and it’s likely to be close. The big question is whether Rosner’s early fundraising advantage was sufficient to overcome his newcomer status.

Of the six candidates Rosner has the least amount of roots in the area. Just less than two years ago Rosner applied to be on the School Board in Greenfield. Before that he ran for alderman in Milwaukee while attending school there.

Being a state representative not only means representing the district in Madison, but also representative of the district. Rosner’s new neighbors will need to decide on Tuesday whether a year in Waukesha is enough for him to be of the community as well as represent it.

Perhaps it was Rosner’s inexperience with Waukesha voters that led him to attack Allen for posing with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke at a campaign fundraiser. It’s hard to imagine someone with knowledge of Republican voters in the district believing that Clarke was unpopular here because he is supposedly a Democrat.

Rosner’s many endorsements within the Republican Party, including former Gov. Tommy Thompson, have much more to do with past political campaigns than ties to the community. Rosner was former Assembly Speaker John Gard’s campaign manager in one of his congressional races. Rosner also was the statewide campaign manager for presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

With all of Rosner’s insider connections, which he touts regularly, it’s hard to see his campaign slogan “a fresh start” as anything but ironic.

Meanwhile, despite his long ties to the Republican Party, Allen did not pick up as many endorsements as Rosner. However, he did get the endorsement of state Sen. Mary Lazich and former Mayor Carol Lombardi. He has a little more name recognition and has been a dogged campaigner.

I suspect Allen is feeling pretty good about his chances. At the candidate forum at the Waukesha Public Library, Allen chose to use his closing statement to say something nice about each of his opponents. Maybe he’s hoping to get their real estate listings, but more likely he’s feeling optimistic.

Rosner, too, has good reason to feel optimistic about his chances. He has run the traditional primary campaign: get endorsements, raise money, pump out the mail, advertise on the radio, campaign door-to-door.

All that’s left for both candidates is to get out the vote. Whoever does it best, wins.

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at http://www.wigderson.com and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.)

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