Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Our Wisconsin Repugs are providing high-quality entertainment again. Last Friday, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker abandoned his campaign for the Repug nomination for governor, which took lots of people, including me, by surprise. Walker and Green Bay-area Congressman Mark Green were the only announced candidates for the nom, and Walker seemed to me be a far stronger candidate, mostly on the basis of his higher profile. But Green had locked up the early money, leaving Walker to troll for crumbs, and it apparently became clear that the crumbs weren't going to be enough.

Of course, it wasn't Walker himself who ultimately decided his campaign was over. It was--wait for it!--God. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "I believe that it was God's will for me to run," Walker said. "After a great deal of prayer during the last week, it is clear that it is God's will for me to step out of the race." (Sounds like God is a flip-flopper, first telling Walker to run and then telling him to get out. I am not sure how God can continue to be a Republican if he's going to act so much like John Kerry, but I digress.)

A few Repugs apparently hoped that a deadlock between Walker and Green might bring former governor Tommy Thompson back into the picture, but that doesn't seem realistic. Thompson seems good and truly retired from politics, as his decision not to challenge Russ Feingold for the Senate last time indicates, but in spite of that, he remains as central a figure in Wisconsin Republican dreams as Angelina Jolie is in the dreams of adolescent boys. And so, God's intervention in the campaign clears the way for a straight-up match between Green and incumbent Democrat Jim Doyle.

The biggest advantage Walker's exit gives the Repugs is six extra months for them to bash Doyle as unfit to govern this Christian state, because Wisconsin's nutty political calendar postpones the statewide primary until September. Not that the Repugs were going to need much help in sinking Doyle. He's vulnerable on plenty of issues already. The big prize for Repugs would be to tie him to the ongoing Capitol corruption scandal, but even if they can't do that, he's plenty weak--too liberal for Republicans, not liberal enough for Democrats, who have watched him crawl into bed with the Repug legislative majority a few times too often. (This never works. The Repugs are always happy to get you into bed, but once the hookup is over, they think you're a slut and never call again.) Green and Walker had already been trying to out-Jesus each other, so we'll be hearing plenty of pious wankery on the campaign trail, plus, there's a marriage-defining Constitutional amendment on the November ballot to further energize the wingnuts. So Doyle's already climbing uphill. His likelihood of success will depend on how well he can portray Green and the Repugs as the extremists they are. And if he approaches that task with the same swift sharpness he's approached the task of governing, well, it may be time to move to Illinois.

Christ, what am I saying?

Say What?: The spring election is next week, which is mostly for county board and school board seats. There's also an advisory referendum on the ballot in several communities regarding withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Yard signs have sprouted in the last few days here in Madison, mostly favoring the referendum. The Repugs are also providing signs, which are a little confusing. They say, "No = cut and run." Given that the Madison referendum is worded "Resolved: The United States should bring all military personnel home from Iraq now," I wonder if they shouldn't have proofread their text a bit more carefully.

(Late note, 9:15AM: I got a closer look at one of the vote-no signs just now, and it turns out that they actually say "No to Cut and Run" and not "No = cut and run." Still, they're absurd. With large majorities believing the Iraq War is a mistake, the idea that such simplistic nonsense might persuade people to hold Bush's line goes beyond wishful thinking into blatant psychosis.)

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