Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Lawton’

Barbara Lawton: “Get a life”

October 27, 2009

Considering reports that the White House was openly pressuring Mayor Tom Barrett to run for governor, it is somewhat fair to assume that it, as well as other state Democrats, were leaning on Barbara Lawton to not run. WisPolitics:

Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton said today no one pressured her to drop out of the guv’s race, repeating that it was a deeply personal family decision to get out.

Lawton told WisPolitics in a phone interview that she had nothing more to say on the reasons behind her decision other than she and her husband Cal are in good health. She laughed off the suggestion that Gov. Jim Doyle or the White House pressured her to get out of the campaign and said her personal family issues behind the decision weren’t anyone’s business.

“I think people will lose interest and get a life, and well they should,” Lawton said.

The news items highlighting Gov. Doyle’s reluctance to commend Lawton’s record were not contrived. When politicians support eachother, they make it clear. Doyle’s lack of comment for Lawton makes it clear that he wanted to support another candidate. Even though Doyle was unpopular, his unpopularity was not such that he would be discouraged from complimenting fellow Democrats. Even George W. Bush, whose legacy was a toxin for Republicans in 2008, endorsed and rallied support for McCain.

Political scientists on Barrett’s chances

October 26, 2009

There are good reasons I chose not to study political science. However, it was nice to see Wispolitics columnist Steve Walters ask several poli sci professors to give their opinions on Tom Barrett’s chance of getting elected governor. The main issue at hand is Barrett’s Milwaukee origins. Here’s a fact that lends credence to Democrats’ fears:

*Last time a Milwaukee resident was elected governor: Republican Julius P. Heil, in 1938 — or 71 years ago, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau. (Footnote: Milwaukee resident Marty Schreiber served as governor, but he wasn’t elected to the office. Schreiber was elected lieutenant governor, and became governor when Democrat Pat Lucey resigned to become ambassador to Mexico in July 1977.)

Here are what a couple of the political scientists said about the myth of Milwaukee:

— Former state Sen. Mordecai Lee, D-Milwaukee, now a UW-Milwaukee professor:

In the ‘old’ days, the out-state hostility to Milwaukee was largely Jeffersonian in origins: rural life is better than urban, provincialism is better than cosmopolitanism, etc. Now, I’m afraid it’s mutated to be also about race and poverty, tax-eaters-versus-taxpayers.

Without calling anybody a racist. I think it’s easier for a Republican from the Milwaukee suburbs to get independent and swing voters out-state than for a Democrat from the city of Milwaukee. So, Tom would have a more uphill struggle than (Milwaukee County Executive Scott) Walker (or Mark Neumann — also now living in a western Milwaukee suburb).

— UW-Madison political science professor Kathy Cramer Walsh:

Barrett could be elected governor of Wisconsin if he can walk into the morning coffee klatches at gas stations in Mellen, LaCrosse, Muscoda, and Green Bay and make people feel like he is sincerely listening to and understanding their concerns.
The Milwaukee/Madison-versus-outstate divide is perpetuated by folks in outstate areas feeling like no one in the big downstate cities gives a hoot about them. That’s the big barrier, and it is going to take some serious seeking out of people on their own turf in order to overcome it.

I find the first explanation much more convincing. Sure, there is no absence of rural resentment for urban areas, however, not even the most aloof northern Wisconsinite entertains the theory that people in Milwaukee have it good. There will be plenty of negative associations made with Milwaukee politicians, but they will more likely center on corruption, inefficiency and embarrassment to the state. Lee is likely correct in saying that it’s easier from a guy from the Milwaukee suburbs – the epicenter of the Wisconsin bourgeoisie if you will – to wash his hands of the city slicker association than a Democrat, even though if anything, the Milwaukee suburbs should be the target of rural resentment, not that deteriorating mess known as the city.

Lawton paying attention to Milwaukee theory?

October 8, 2009

I’m starting to think Tom Barrett is not serious about a bid to be gov. The evidence is pointing to an understanding among Milwaukee politicos to jump on the Lawton train as soon as possible:

While Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett continues to weigh whether to jump into the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton (left) is quickly picking up support in his backyard.

Lawton this week announced that Milwaukee County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic and Peggy West had endorsed her campaign, joining the likes of state Rep. Barbara Toles, D-Milwaukee, state Sen. Jim Sullivan, D-Wauwatosa, and state Rep. John Steinbrink, D-Kenosha. Also backing Lawton is Milwaukee County Democratic Party Chairwoman Martha Love.

These are not the moves indicative of a competitive race. You’d think the party chair would try to stay out (at least publicly) until the very last minute. Granted, former state chair Joe Wineke endorsed Edwards pretty early on during the presidential primaries. Jim Sullivan, a moderate Democrat in a competitive district, does not seem like the type to go all in on Barb so early.

Do the Democrats need Milwaukee for gov?

October 6, 2009

In addition to polling data that shows Tom Barrett would be in a more favorable position to run for governor than Barbara Lawton, Bruce Murphy gives another compelling reason why Barrett is the logical nominee for the Dems: he’s from Milwaukee.

Murphy begins with the conventional wisdom that Democratic statewide candidates must win 60 percent of Milwaukee County to win an election. Therefore Walker, the County Executive, would have an advantage over Lawton, who is an outsider.

This analysis is too simplistic. The conventional wisdom is there for generic candidates, and does not make up for other regional ties a Democratic candidate may have that will make up for the shortfall in Milwaukee. Lawton may have an advantage in the Green Bay area from the three and a half decades she spent there as a community activist. If her ties to the area remain strong she may be able to pick up votes that would otherwise go to a Republican. In addition, Lawton would have the support of other Green Bay types, such as Rep. Steve Kagen, whereas Walker is despised by much of the Milwaukee political establishment, and depending on how the county budget pans out, Walker could actually face a backlash locally. Moreover, Milwaukee is much bigger than Green Bay, but Walker is not going to be able to play the “favorite son” card in most of the city, much of which sees Walker as a suburbanite – an outsider.

Granted, Murphy’s claim that Barrett would make a better candidate than Lawton is hard to refute at this point. Barrett would be a much more convincing “favorite son” than Walker. First off, he is mayor, which has a political and symbolic purpose that every voter understands. Second, the press he got after trying to save the grandmother from a drunken lunatic has earned him an enormous amount of sympathy and admiration from even the most cynical voters.

However, the Democrats do not need Milwaukee to win. Obama could have lost the county and still carried Wisconsin comfortably. And presidential elections are  the closest example of elections where the “generic” candidate analysis applies.

Walker, Barrett lead polls, elderly still read newspapers

October 4, 2009
UW political science professor Ken Goldstein conducted a survey of Wisconsin residents to gauge attitudes about the economy, state and national government and next year’s gubernatorial election.
Interestingly, Tom Barrett, if he declares, will start the primary race with a heavy advantage over Barbara Lawton. If the primary were held today, Barrett would get 38 percent of the vote versus Lawton’s 16. He obviously benefits from being recognized practically universally in the most important Democratic district in the state (Milwaukee), but I certainly would not underestimate the days of free press he got from the scuffle at the state fair.
Practically the same deal on the other side. If the Republican primary were held today, Scott Walker would get 38 percent and Mark Neumann would get 14.
Also of particular interest:
Among those aged 18-35, 8 percent get their news from newspapers and 40 percent from the Internet. Among those 65 and over, 60 percent rely on the papers and 2 percent on the Internet.

Is Lawton viable?

September 29, 2009

Despite my many issues with Kevin Bargnes’ article on Barbara Lawton today, he raises an important question: What the hell is the LG doing right now? Why hasn’t she begun campaigning? Wouldn’t that drive away her opponents faster?

Steve Walters, a columnist at WisOpinion, asks similar questions in a column today. He even gives specific areas of concern for Lawton, including lack of depth on certain issues, such as drunk driving policy and campaign finance. More importantly, how will she distinguish herself from Doyle? What part of his record will she “own?” Walters notes Lawton’s different position on the appointment of the DNR secretary. I will add that she also opposed the governor on tax breaks for film productions.

Nothing Kind about this race

September 24, 2009

Ron Kind has officially announced he has no intentions to run for governor next year:

In a conference call Thursday, the La Crosse Democrat cited his work in the U.S. House on health care reform as his reason for deciding to stay in Washington.

“My job is to stay focused on the health care reform that’s pending so that we deliver affordable, quality, accessible health care for all Wisconsin families,” he said. “I’ve got a primary responsibility to do this job well.”

Predictably, there’s nothing particularly interesting in what Kind has to say about the decision. I found the Journal-Sentinel’s article on the matter slightly too deferential to Kind’s talking points “Kind to stay in Congress to work on health care.” However, he did cite his commitment to health care as the overarching reason for him to stay in the House, which made his statement slightly less formulaic than the usual reasons.

However, no analysis in the media has emerged that looks into the pragmatic reasons Kind may have stepped out. For instance, only a small fraction of the money in his war chest could be used to fund a campaign for state office. Considering this, Herb Kohl’s senate seat may be a much more realistic target for Kind, financially as well as politically. The governor’s race would not only feature a daunting primary against at least Barbara Lawton, but a general election in which voters are hostile to the Democratic incumbent and may opt to hand power over to the GOP. Kohl on the other hand is a relatively popular guy who voters may be more interested in replacing with a Democrat.

The person the most unhappy about this decision is without a doubt State Sen. Dan Kapanke, Kind’s apparent Republican challenger in next year’s Congressional election. The western district could have been competitive had Kind left for the governor’s race, however, with ten terms behind him, no Republican has a glimmer of hope unseating the incumbent.

Barrett vs. Kind (what do they have in common)

September 7, 2009

Kind has virtually no money to run a state campaign on. Only a pittance of the money he’s raised for his congressional campaigns can be used to wage a campaign in the Badger State. Last I heard it’s somewhere south of $40,000. Nevertheless, after more than a decade in Congress, Kind no doubt has a strong network of state contributors, especially in his western district.

Starting from scratch, it’s unfortunate for Kind that he doesn’t know as many people in Madison – there are plenty of lawyers and lobbyists, the types who fund Doyle’s campaigns, who are willing to write $10,000 checks. It’s not that Kind or Barrett won’t be able to win their contributions come the general election, but Lawton will likely have an advantage among them in the primary. At this point, she is the only likely nominee of the Democratic Party. Giving to her is less of a crap shoot.

Barrett similarly has an array of big money interests in the Milwaukee area who’d like to get on the mayor’s good side by making a contribution. You can even give him a contribution and hope he loses – especially if you’re interest is more local.

I do believe that Barrett’s story of heroism at the state fair will play an important role if he does run for governor. It is great publicity and it will affect the gut response to Barrett, especially from people who aren’t familiar with him. The non-partisan electorate often votes based on subtle gut reactions to personal characteristics of the politician – is he/she trustworthy, does he/she seem genuinely good or smart? By listening to his speeches, watching his interactions, a voter attempts to guess. Barrett’s act makes the guessing unnecessary for many – it is evidence that he has a trait that is very rarely attributed to politicians: courage.

I think in a race where both Kind and Barrett run, Kind will be overshadowed by Barrett’s publicity and overwhelmed by his fundraising.

Brunch Links

September 3, 2009

“And then there is Jack Craver, a light-hearted and gregarious fellow who authors the widely read and frequently updated The Sconz.” We will address the context of that quote later today.

Good morning Madison! Today should be beautiful, with a high of 76, but don’t count out long pants – it’s going to get down to 36 at night.

Question of the day: In case you didn’t notice, the Badger Herald is not printing the rest of this week because its registration issue came out yesterday. Should the Herald continue its tradition of starting the year with a reg edition – a huge paper that tries to cover everything that happened over the summer – or should it simply start reporting the news daily at the beginning?

First off, Dane County is rejecting a settlement offer by the family of Brittany Zimmerman, the UW student murdered last year. Is this going to show that Kathleen Falk is a “fiscal conservative” Eric Schmidt?

The new UW code of conduct is going into effect, but I can’t get the Daily Cardinal site up so you’ll just have to believe me. More on that later.

UW is worried about the flu. is looking snazzy! Seriously, check it out. Nevertheless, I think the design is more appropriate for a bank or a software company – not a news site.

Home owners are going to see a tax increase to fund Madison public schools.

One in nine Wisconsin blacks cannot vote due to a felony conviction. The number for whites in one in fifty. The Cap Times is making the case for giving freed felons the right to vote again in Wisconsin.

The State Journal blasts the state for neglecting to investigate a child-care worker who lived in a mansion and drove a Jaguar, all on taxpayer money. I once had a principal who drove a Jag.

Barbara Lawton on the campaign trail: small businesses have been left out of the stimulus.

Governor’s race…

August 24, 2009

Only 13 months until the gubernatorial election. Where are my polls? Where is my 24/7 analysis?

First, we need some primary polls. What kind of name recognition do the candidates have? The most high profile candidate on either side is Barbara Lawton, although frankly there are plenty of voters who don’t know the name of the lieutenant governor. What percentage of Milwaukee County knows the name of their executive, Scott Walker? Do people remember Mark Neumann? The only potential candidates I can see with a lock on a certain bloc of voters are Rep. Ron Kind (D), who likely has quite a bit of name recognition with the western Wisconsinites he’s represented for seven terms in Congress, as well as Mayor Tom Barrett, who not only has great name recognition in Milwaukee, but has gotten the BEST press out of any of the candidates when he saved a grandmother and her grandson from a deranged drunk last week.

A poll that came out yesterday shows the two Milwaukee-area candidates, Walker and Barrett, in a dead heat, 44-43. As Zach at Blogging Blue notes, despite the good press, Barrett is still not a declared candidate. Scotty has been for months.

Of course, we haven’t even discussed the possibility of a bid from Tommy Thompson. And no, Kathleen Falk is not going to run.