Note: this appeared in the RightWisconsin Daily Update on Friday, April 6. You can subscribe – for free – to the Daily Update by clicking here.
An early note this morning before I head off on a personal matter today. Thursday night there was a bit of a storm in state Senate District 1 where a special election is scheduled for June 12, with the GOP primary on May 15. This was one of the special elections the Republicans did not want to hold but the courts told Governor Scott Walker he had to call it.
The election was already starting to set itself for November up as a battle between a conservative reformer, state Rep. André Jacque (R-DePere), and the “establishment” businessman Alex Renard. Yes, it is possible that the establishment candidate is one who is not holding office, while the reform candidate is the one who is holding office.
Renard was recruited to run for this Senate seat by former Assembly Speaker John Gard, a one-time-Republican-turned-lobbyist. Actually, in Gard’s case, it’s hard to see the change. Gard represents special interests that didn’t want to see a change to the state’s prevailing wage law.
Jacque bucked Assembly leadership by scheduling a public hearing on the prevailing wage law, angering current Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), who is resembling Gard more and more every day. (Just substitute the chiropractors for ethanol.) Eventually, conservatives prevailed on the full repeal of the prevailing wage law, making everyone happy except certain legislative leaders and lobbyists like Gard.
(Does everyone remember the end of Animal Farm when the pigs and the farmers were indistinguishable?)
Just in case anyone is missing the connections in all this, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) and Joint Finance Committee Co-chairman Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), along with three other colleagues in the Assembly, announced their endorsement of Renard. It was a slap in the face to their Assembly colleague Jacque.
Nerves were already raw from that announcement when a mailing came to everyone’s door in the district from the Republican Party of Wisconsin appearing like an endorsement because it’s labeled “an in-kind contribution.”
One of the obligations of this job is to ask lots of questions, and I confirmed that the in-kind contribution is the use of the state party mail list and it’s available to Jacque, too. The mailing just had unfortunate timing.
So no, the Republican Party of Wisconsin did not endorse a candidate in a Republican primary without getting the approval of the state convention (May 11-13, right before the primary).
But the question we should be asking is why Republican leaders are punishing their colleagues for promoting real conservative, free-market ideas. One of the reasons Republicans were so badly punished in 2006-2008 was that they lost their principles, depressing GOP enthusiasm. Sound familiar? Vos and Steineke should be learning the lessons of the Gard era, not following his lead.
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