Political revelations: Wall drops out of U.S. Senate race; Colón not seeking reelection; Plale to have a challenger?

I know I’d said “no politics till Monday” or something like that, but this stuff you just can’t overlook. A statement from the Feingold campaign saying something about Wall dropping out of the race landed in my inbox. A quick call confirmed that Terrence Wall is quitting the race against Senator Feingold. Here’s the WisPolitics story.

Notable language in the fourth paragraph: “Wall has struggled to gain traction in the race amid questions about the amount of personal taxes he’s paid in Wisconsin […].” Lefty bloggers can take credit for making that the first thing out of people’s mouths when Wall’s candidacy was mentioned.

Let’s hope Ron Johnson’s paid his.

Second, Journal Sentinel is reporting that state Rep. Pedro Colón will not be running for reelection. He is the state’s first elected official who happens to be Hispanic. (Didn’t know that; cool.) I wish him luck with whatever he does next.

Third, the estimable Dan Cody broke word that my state senator Jeff Plale may face a strong challenger in the form of Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson. Chris won a seat on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisor in the 2007-08 election cycle, which is the same race that I was in. While we were technically “opponents” in the primary, our stances were virtually identical. When he resoundingly won the primary, I endorsed him. Supervisor Larson has built a strong reputation in his two years on the Milwaukee County Board. He’d be a terrific senator, and I would enthusiastically support him in that race.

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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.

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.

Even Rasmussen says Feingold will win in November

You know it’s a [something] day when Republican-leaning pollster Rasmussen Reports predicts the incumbent U.S. Senator Russ Feingold would beat all three of his known and forthcoming Republican challengers.

According to the latest numbers from Rasmussen, Feingold would beat tax-evading millionaire Terrence “Terry” Wall, 49%-43%. Feingold’s numbers stay even for the a match-up against Dave Westlake, who would net 38%, and amazingly, Dick Leinenkugel would only get 37%.

Neither Wall or Leinenkugel have come to Drinking Liberally, so I’m not sure how Wall is ahead of Westlake. Must be all that money he gave his own campaign. (Did it come via Delaware?)

A U.S. Senate bid by Tommy! would make lobbyists very, very happy

Who knows exactly what our former governor Tommy Thompson (“Tommy!”) has been up to since his days as Wisconsin governor? We do have some clues, as it turns out. For one thing, he’s very right with a lot of lobbyists. And as he sits on many corporate boards, he’s very tight with big-money interests—the sort who hire lobbyists.

At this point, even, many of those big-money interests are in fact lobbying firms themselves. Take, for example, Akin Gump. That is not the name of a sequel to the movie “Forrest Gump” in which the aforementioned Forrest becomes  formally known as powerful lobbyist for the commercial shrimp fishing industry. (And I’m sure they never have heard that before…) No, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is one of the most powerfully connected lobbying firms in D.C. It’s the firm where Tommy! has long hung his hat. And they would love it it if Tommy! ran against Russ Feingold for the U.S. Senate.

Tommy!

Yes, a U.S. Senate bid by Tommy! would make the lobbyists at Akin Gump very, very happy. See for yourself:

Reports have surfaced that another D.C. lobbyist is buying potential website domains for Thompson.

• This article in Politico quotes a Thompson aide at Akin Gump as saying Tommy’s hankering to recapture his glory. While the Politico article doesn’t say the aide works at Akin Gump, an article in the Village Voice does just that.

And it gets better:

‘Tommy G. Thompson, a partner with Akin Gump, was a member of VeriChip’s board of directors from July 2005 to March 8, 2007, and, as a result of his directorship services, as of December 31, 2007, holds fully vested options to purchase 55,556 shares of our common stock.’ [SEC records]

“A subsequent SEC document filed earlier this year clarified things: VeriChip got a bill from Akin Gump for legal fees of $1.2 million during 2005 and 2006. As a result of his being a director for less than two years, he got fully vested options to purchase 100,000 shares of stock.”

Wow. Just to be clear, Tommy! was on the board of VeriChip, the RFID chip firm. And he made a pretty mint from that.

Of course, if Tommy! ran for the U.S. Senate, he would have to release his financial records. I just hope he’s been more honest with his taxes than one of his possible opponents in the race. We’ll see!

Terrence Wall stands alone with accusations of character against Feingold

Multi-millionaire landlord and strip mall builder Terrence Wall has sunk to a new low. The campaign season has hardly begun in the eyes of most, and Wall is seeking to slander Senator Feingold with baseless accusations. In an interview with the Wisconsin Voice of Christian Youth, Wall alleged that the two things that separate him most from Senator Feingold are “Honesty” and “Integrity.” As if to say, “Senator Feingold has none, but I’ve got it in droves. You can see it right here behind my attack ads!”

It gets better: in the same interview, Wall claimed that he’s “concerned about the value system” of Senator Feingold.  “I mean [he doesn’t] seem to have a fundamental foundation of values… [or] principles…”

Mr. Wall, you are alone in making that assertion. If anything, Senator Feingold was alone in standing up for the principles of constitutional freedom during the passage of the USA Patriot Act, which he cast the lone vote against in the U.S. Senate. He’s long stood for accountability and responsibility. I think Wall is trying to blow a dog whistle that only right-wing religious voters can here. It’s a known and accepted that Senator Feingold happens to be of Jewish descent. Don’t mean he doesn’t have values or principles. If anything, our good senator has them in plenty. That’s why he’s admired across the political spectrum.

The Green Bay Press Gazette Editorial Board, whom no one has ever accused of being an up-nort version of the Capital Times, last week stood against Wall’s early entry into the realm of negative campaigning. The same editorial also noted that the Associated Press described Wall’s ad “misleading.”

While it’s clear that Terry is trying to establish himself as the dominant candidate for the Republican primary, he’s doing it in a way that will either drive people away from the polls, or to his opponents, be they Dave Westlake or Senator Feingold. This may well cause Wall to stand alone as the loser in the primary. He may want to take up a gimmick like Westlake’s orange shirts. Perhaps he can be seen wearing a cheesehead wherever he goes. As we know, the cheese (and Terrence Wall) stands alone.

MJS: “Wall’s tax breaks become campaign fodder”

“Oh, what a place to be, in the service, of the bourgeoisie,” as Iggy Pop once sang.

It’s a nice place to be. Gets you out of annoying things like paying taxes.

Diana Marrero of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had a lengthy story today called Wall’s tax breaks become campaign fodder.

Enjoy!