Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

Bradley, Abele in trouble


Waukesha Freeman 1/18/2016 Page A06 Opinion

Bradley, Abele in trouble
Rough night for incumbents

A lot to cover here this morning so hang on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Is state Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley in trouble? In 2011, Justice David Prosser actually got over 50 percent of the vote in the three-way primary election. Five years later, the less controversial Bradley got only 44.7 percent of the vote. As any political analyst will tell you, if an incumbent gets less than 50 percent of the vote they are in trouble.

So let me put on my political scientist hat and point out that you had two judicial candidates, Bradley and Judge Joe Donald, from Milwaukee where there are two surprisingly competitive races. Meanwhile, for many in Waukesha County, the only race on the ballot was the Supreme Court. Let’s add that the one candidate in the race that has experience running a statewide race is JoAnne Kloppenburg, so perhaps it’s not surprising that she got 43.2 percent of the vote.

However, the spring election is the same day as the Wisconsin presidential primary. Turnout in the state Supreme Court race will be largely dependent on factors outside of the efforts of Kloppenburg and Bradley. If the fever is still burning for Bernie Sanders while Republicans get disgusted at their prospects, it’s not hard to imagine the rare scenario where the incumbent Bradley loses.

*** Speaking of Milwaukee County, we don’t normally comment on events on that side of 124th Street but it is impossible to ignore the political earthquake going on. Political observers, including myself, thought that the incumbent County Executive Chris Abele would cruise to re-election. Instead he actually came in second in the primary to Democratic state Sen. Chris Larson.

Money in a campaign isn’t everything. Abele no longer has a natural constituency. Conservatives, the remaining few in Milwaukee County, no longer support Abele after he bankrolled keeping the courthouse open to rush through gay marriages. Abele further damaged his reputation by hiring disgraced former Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski to go after popular Sheriff David Clarke Jr. It also didn’t help that Abele then opened up his checkbook to run negative ads through the Greater Wisconsin Committee.

On the left side of the equation, Abele has been too good at keeping a lid on county spending. The county employee unions and the various left-wing organizations in Milwaukee County would be more than happy to see Abele unemployed.

There is also more than a touch of class envy, too, that Larson has been able to tap into by pointing out Abele’s wealth. The irony is that the more Abele spends, the more his own money will be used against him as an issue in the race.

Abele better cross his fingers and hope that Hillary Clinton has the Democratic nomination for president in hand before the April 5 election. If the Democratic presidential primary is still raging by then, it may be Abele that “feels the Bern” from the left wing of the Democratic Party.

*** Looking locally, the Waukesha Common Council is finally looking at the issue of what to do about the Waukesha Farmers Market. The market was started by the now-defunct Business Improvement District. When that agency dissolved, the previous regime in City Hall gave control of the Farmers Market to the Downtown Business Association rather than put it out to bid. The city administrator at the time, Ed Henschel, even claimed, against all common sense, the Farmers Market was not a city asset even though all of the assets of the BID either belonged to the city or the property owners downtown.

Unfortunately, the current city administrator, Kevin Lahner, does not want to make waves and reclaim this city asset. Despite the city’s parks and recreation department having the staff with experience running a Farmers Market, Lahner is relying upon the Henschel memo to claim that the market is not the city’s responsibility.

Ideally, what the Common Council should do is ignore Lahner and have the city run the Farmers Market for at least a year. Then, having gotten a handle on the real financials of the market and what it would take to run it, put the market back out to bid. This would ensure that interests of the city are protected and that the market is run for the best interests of everyone.

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