Dick Leinenkugel out of Wisc. GOP U.S. Senate primary

As famed lefty political seer Zach Dubya whispered through the incense yesterday, former Doyle cabinet member Dick Leinenkugel has dropped out of the Wisconsin Republican U.S. Senate primary race. That leaves just two millionaires, and Dave Westlake.

We still have not seen Westlake’s financial disclosure forms, so it’s impossible to say whether he is or is not a millionaire. Regardless of his actual level of wealth, he has not acted like a snotty millionaire who thinks he can buy his was into office. That’s what I like about him.

So, we have one millionaire out, and two in. That indirectly supports my hypothesis that millionaires cannot beat Senator Feingold. The real test will come in the September primary, when either Johnson, Wall, or Westlake will go on to face Senator Feingold, and then the general election in November. All bets are off at this point with regard to the primary, though my hunch is that Westlake may surprise us all. And Feingold is still incumbent for November.

Also: I just now noticed that the unknown Johnson got the state Republican Party’s endorsement at their this weekend convention. The comments on the JSOnline story are truly amusing. If the people who think referring to Senator Feingold as “Fein-ghoul” will do anything to tilt the race, they’ve got another thing coming. A clue, perhaps…

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Way-too-early Wisc. U.S. Senate predictions

A few weeks ago, while we were still waiting for Dick Leinenkugel to officially announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate, I prognosticated that millionaires are unable to defeat Senator Russ Feingold. Historically, that’s been true. And now, Dave Westlake is in (and having a ball), Terrence “Terry the Tax-Dodger” Wall is in, Leinenkugel is in,  Ron Johnson is in, and TOMMY! is out. (Got that?) As I see it, there are three millionaires hoping to take on Feingold in the November election: Leinenkugel, Johnson, and Wall. (TOMMY!, who now gets the extra-small print, would have been the fourth, but oh well. Westlake, who gets full-sized print, either is not a millionaire, or has simply not billed himself as such, and in any case doesn’t seem to act like one.)

Now, the state Dems have also noticed that Ron Johnson has hired Darrin Schmitz, the man who is responsible for the notorious race-baiting ad that aired for Mike Gableman’s 2008 Wisconsin Supreme Court campaign. And Johnson apparently has paid for former National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director Mark Stephens to come work for him.

Well, the state Dems have picked up on the idea that I raised a week ago, in which I argued that Johnson will “try to play very dirty against Feingold, and will probably try to turn the primary into a real mudfest.” (Note that this was not refuted in the comments.) Here’s the DPW’s press release on the matter, in which they say as much, and more.

Thinking back to the 1992 campaign, Feingold presented himself as the positive alternative to the negative campaigning put on by his opponents Joe Checota and Jim Moody, and won the primary. He went on to beat the Republican incumbent Senator Robert “Bob” Kasten, Jr. Going negative in those races cost Moody and Checota the primary. (I don’t remember hearing much about Kasten, though I wasn’t paying much attention to this stuff back then.) So, my take on it is that in 2010, Johnson will go negative early. Terry Wall will reciprocate, and both will go down in flames. (Jim thinks Wall will drop out first. I dunno; Wall’s had some experience fighting the Madison City Council, but that’s a different game. He’ll probably duke it out till he loses.) Leinenkugel has met a very tame reaction, so he may be the first one who gets out. Despite Jeff’s assertion that you need money to win, the millionaires would have been eliminated by their raging mudflaps.

Where’s that leave Dave Westlake?

That’s a very good question.

I have a hunch he’ll make it.

Just maybe.

Sure, the conventional wisdom’s against Westlake. But Feingold was the underdog who cruised past his infighting primary opponents to win the big race. I haven’t seen any recent poll numbers, save for something saying Westlake was neck-and-neck with Wall. Maybe it’s my logic-and-history-addled thinking. Though I don’t think that he would go on to unseat Feingold, I have a hunch that he could make it through the primary. Will history and logic prove me right? We’ll find out in about six months time.

Dick Leinenkugel finally announces his candidacy with a puff of hot air

It’s official. And it’s obvious that Dick Leinenkugel spent a bunch of money turning his once top-secret web site into a shiny new web site. Funny thing is, the first person that you see when you go to the site is not Dick Leinenkugel, but our good Senator Russ Feingold. If I can offer Lienie & Co. a free tip, don’t put your opponent’s face on your web page as the first thing people see.

And don’t ask if he’s “listening yet.” For the entire duration of his U.S. Senate career, Senator Feingold has been listening to Wisconsinites. Each year, he holds a listening session in every single county in Wisconsin. Every county, from Adams to Iowa and Pepin to WausharaWinnebago and Wood, gets a listening session, where the Senator interacts with the citizens. For all the bravery and loyalty that Leinenkugel paints himself with, he’d serve us and himself better by not making the false claim that Senator Feingold isn’t listening. I’ve been in Wisconsin most of my 34 years, and I’ve not once heard from Dick Leinenkugel. Don’t blow hot air like that.

Of course, you do want to become a politician. What is a politician without hot air?

That’s Senator Feingold.

Also: I like the takes on this from BloggingBlue and Pretty Important Politics.

Let’s just try to stay away from lame beer puns, ‘k guys? 😉

Feingold, Wall have new ads

Let’s accentuate the positive first with Senator Russ Feingold’s new ad, “Forward.” The ad focuses on the meaning of our state’s slogan, which is that very word, and urges continued movement in that direction. While many would like to see the state’s politics slide backwards, Feingold is pushing for movement in the proper direction. Feingold makes no attempt to place himself among the forward-thinking individuals that are shown in the ad, such as former Gov. Gaylord Nelson or the world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, both Wisconsin natives. Rather, it appeals to the desire to improve and elevate the whole of society. It’s a thoughtful ad, and doesn’t specifically mention any issues, nor people. It doesn’t need to, as it represents some of the best thinking and values to come from Wisconsin in the past hundred years.

Terrence “Terry” Wall, the multi-millionaire who for over a decade hasn’t found it necessary to personally pay a dime to support the state, has some ads too. The ad “Liberal Leinie” was posted two weeks ago, and predictably bashes Wall’s probable Republican opponent Dick Leinenkugel for being part of the Doyle administration and helping write the state budget, and for Wisconsin losing jobs. While the Cheddarsphere had already questioned Leinenkugel running as a Republican immediately after serving in the Democratic administration, Wall’s ad paints him as a dreaded tax-raising liberal. The economy going out of control was hardly Leinenkugel’s fault, but the people in charge always take heat when things go poorly. Leinenkugel set himself up for taking those hits, light as they may be.

This video says much more about Wall than his nasal pronouncements about jobs in his introductory video. Compare the tone of the Feingold and Wall ads. Feingold refers to our state’s legacy of producing great thinkers and creators. It emphasizes the importance of keeping up our great intellectual and creative traditions. Voting to return our scholarly senator to the Senate would do that.

Wall’s ad is smug, dismissive, and insulting. The tone of the woman’s voice is designed to raise the hairs on the neck of people who have been trained by talk radio and Fox News to automatically hate anyone and everyone who is associated with the Democratic Party. It doesn’t employ dog whistles so much as bullhorns to shout the words “HIGHER TAXES” and “LIBERAL” — a gaudy attempt to embroil the conservative audience. If the ad is successful in raising the blood pressure of the viewer, they probably will give the throwaway line at the end of the ad a gut laugh. Which is more than it deserves.

Thoughtful, effective. Feingold.

Snobby, pandering. Wall.

Choose wisely.

Leinenkugel for Senate web site still under wraps

While it’s still (technically) rumored that former Doyle Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel will be mounting a bid for U.S. Senator Russ Feingold’s seat as a Republican, we’ve known for a while that something’s afoot. The latest sign is visible when one visits the leinenkugelforsenate.com web site:

leinenkugelforsenate.com -- don't tell anybody!

That’s very clever, naming the server “Shhhh.” It prevents me from getting the idea that a man of the last name Leinenkugel will be running for the U.S. Senate. Nothing to see here, move along!

Even if it were to happen, Feingold is projected as the eventual winner by Republican-friendly pollster Rasmussen.

I still think he’s got more to worry about from Dave Westlake’s truly grassroots bid. It reminds me a bit of how Feingold beat two millionaires in 1992. Maybe that’s it: millionaires can’t beat him. (Are you listening, Terry and Dave?) What does that say about non-millionaires?

(He has since announced his candidacy to a stale response.)

Leinenkugel to announce next week in Feingold’s home town of Janesville?

My man Zach Dubya cites Tony Galli of WKOW27 in Madison as reporting “a source close to former state commerce secretary Dick Leinenkugel has indicated Leinenkugel plans to announce his run for the U.S. Senate next week. According to the report, the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told WKOW27 News Leinenkugel’s campaign kick off will feature stops in several Wisconsin cities, including Janesville, Feingold’s home town.”

Leinenkugel would be the third official Republican candidate to enter the primary in hopes of challenging U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.

If this does happen, we’ll have  to see how the former Doyle commerce secretary’s announcement goes over in Janesville. That southern Wisconsin city was, until recently, home to a large GM factory, but now has an unemployment rate of 12.8 percent. According to an AP story in the Janesville Gazette, that rate is “down from a year ago when it was 13.7 percent.” The article goes on to report that “Beloit had the highest unemployment of any city at 18.2 percent.” (!) That’s almost a full 10 percent above the state rate — and they didn’t lose a huge factory.

I don’t know what role the state Secretary of Commerce had in addressing unemployment. Some, you’d think, right? It’ll be interesting to see how Leinenkugel plays there with all the unemployment in the region.

Z. Dubya also wonders if he’ll “close his events to the public, as fellow Republican candidate Terrence Wall did.”

TPM DC on the Feingold, Thompson, and the Wisc. U.S. Senate race

Specifically, on how TOMMY! won’t be getting into it. I think it’s a bit much to say that the Feingold campaign is “patting itself on the back” after hearing that Thompson won’t be trying for the seat. It’s not like them to get cocky. We know how close some of the past races have come, even though Senator Feingold won decisively enough each time. And who knows, Dave Westlake may make a stronger bid than anticipated. (Though I’ll endlessly question myself if his appearance at Drinking Liberally this week helps him win.)

Who knows; how long does Tommy have to enter the race? Might this be a clever psych-out? Might he suddenly slip in at the last minute? He would have from June 1, 2010 until  5 p.m. on the second Tuesday of July 2010 to do that, according to Wisconsin state elections law. (Link: PDF, 0.6MB.) But gathering signatures is hard to do covertly, especially when you need 2,000 to 4,000 signatures to be on the ballot. That’s not the sort of thing you’d want to keep quiet if you’re a possible juggernaut like  TOMMY!

No, he’s probably out for real. We still have yet to see if Dick Leinenkugel is in.