Former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, writing a column in The Isthmus, has endorsed the idea of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett running for governor. Cieslewicz said Barrett is just dull enough to win, and he meant dull as a compliment:
My working theory of this election cycle is that dull is good. All the energy is on the left and all of it is negative. Anyone left of center, and a fair number a shade to the right of it, will march across broken glass strewn over a hot parking lot awash in Celine Dion’s greatest hits blaring over loudspeakers to vote against Walker and, by implication, Donald Trump.
In a race that is all about voter turnout, there is no lack of motivation on the left —while on the right there is a mixture of lugubrious lethargy and sleepy satisfaction. The Christian right is satisfied with Trump’s Supreme Court pick. The racist right is happy with his continued attacks on immigrants. The country club right is content with its big tax breaks. And what remains of the principled right is dispirited. In this environment, the last thing the Democrats need is to give any aspect of the right a reason to get out and vote.
Cieslewicz explained the advice he’s been giving his liberal friends, advice that he said is falling on deaf ears. “A candidate that is exciting to you is also likely to excite anger and motivation among Walker and Trump voters,” Cieslewicz wrote. “With all the energy on our side, why go out of our way to create some with the other guys?”
Barrett, Cieslewicz conceded, does have some political baggage, such as the mishandling of the issue of high lead concentration warnings for Milwaukee’s drinking water.
However, that didn’t stop Cieslewicz from taking a shot at one-time rival Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “But there are no pictures of Barrett with Fidel Castro or leading marches amid clouds of tear gas,” Cieslewicz wrote. “Other candidates have heavier baggage.”
The Capital Times editors, who wish they had also posed for pictures with Fidel Castro, published an editorial that Wisconsin may not want “Tom Barrett Version 4.0.” (Shouldn’t that be 0.4?)
“The 2010 and 2012 races were not blowouts. Barrett ran credibly, but Walker prevailed,” according to the editorial. “In the absence of a dramatically different strategy from Barrett, and a dramatically stronger and more distinguishing message, the past could prove to be predictive. And Wisconsin cannot afford four more years of Walker.”