The November elections are just over a month away, but it won’t be long before we’re talking about the post-election future of conservatism in Wisconsin. In fact, that conversation has already begun.

It is the look at the future that makes the recent endorsements of Congressmen Bryan Steil (R-WI1) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI8) by the unions representing the Operating Engineers, Laborers, and Carpenters mystifying. These unions are the same cabal that two years ago donated at least half a million to Governor Tony Evers’ campaign, and that’s not even counting whatever they spent to troll Governor Scott Walker with the plane flying the Scottholes banner.  

It makes sense why these construction unions are looking for political allies wherever they can find them. While they can be proud of electing Evers, their remaining track record over the last couple of years included more misses than hits. They failed to flip control of the state Senate in 2016 and 2018 from Republican to Democratic. They unsuccessfully ran one of their own construction union members (remember the “Iron Stache”?) two years ago against Steil. More telling is their failures to defeat conservatives Tom Tiffany and Andre Jacque with their preferred Republican primary candidates.   

Why Gallagher and Steil would openly celebrate these union endorsements is puzzling. Repeal of the state’s prevailing wage, and passage of Act 10 labor reforms and Right to Work are signature achievements for Wisconsin conservatives, and all anathema to these construction unions.

Neither are in a difficult re-election race this year. Maybe Gallagher and Steil are attempting to bolster President Donald Trump’s re-election chances, which will need a repeat of the significant support from individual construction union members he received four years ago. Maybe it is a reflection of a more crazy than usual election year where even the US Chamber of Commerce endorses nearly two dozen Democrats, many who oppose Right to Work and other federal labor reforms. 

Maybe Gallagher and Steil are engaging in some realpolitik because they know the federal Davis Bacon prevailing wage law that the construction unions love is not going to be repealed anytime soon. Of course, no one though Right to Work was going to become law in Wisconsin when it did, and the same for the repeal of prevailing wage reforms.

Maybe both have had an epiphany on the issue of union reforms. (Reminder from Woodstock, the brown acid is bad.)

Regardless, I would like to remind Congressmen Gallagher and Steil of the words of Winston Churchill, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” The swamp is full of well-fed crocodiles who managed to lure smiling faces into leaning too far over the side of the boat.