A full day of politics Monday.
I've sat through many Cobb salad political luncheons in my time and I always enjoy myself. But Monday's fundraiser in Pewaukee for Scott Walker's gubernatorial campaign was in a class of its own -- truly rock 'em sock 'em, thanks greatly to his guest star, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The event attracted 600 paying $75 a pop.
The man has national star-power. In fact, during Christie's 45-minute speech in the Country Springs Hotel ballroom, someone shouted out "2012." Gov. Christie did not miss a beat. The governor has become famous via YouTube postings of his almost nose-to-nose encounters with self-entitled teachers union radicals.
"Don't make me come over there," Christie joked. "You saw what I did to that heckler in L.A. It won't be pretty. You don't want me to go all 'Jersey' on you."
The audience roared. Here is that clip:
Then he let slip that after Wisconsin he was headed to Iowa. Pause. "To campaign for Gov. Branstad."
It was Christie's defeat of incumbent billionaire Jon Corzine -- despite being outspent by a 3 to 1 ratio -- last November, along with a governor in Virginia and Scott Brown for "Ted Kennedy's seat" in Massachusetts that signaled major political climate change.
New Jersey in the previous eight years had raised taxes 115 times, chasing $75 billion in wealth out of the state, Christie said. Despite those tax increases, the state budget was $2.2 billion in deficit with only five months remaining in the budget cycle. Christie froze that spending by executive order.
Christie said he has been asked to campaign in 30 of the 37 contested gubernatorial contests across the nation and has accepted 13 invitations.
"I know Scott Walker will do what he promises to do because he has done it in Milwaukee County."
Gov. Christie and Scott Walker referenced the influence that such true change agents as Tommy Thompson had to help turn Bill Clinton around.
"We will create such a brushfire across the country that Washington will feel the heat."
Christie got a huge cheer when he warned the Republican party not to backslide into its past liberal spending mode. "For our party, it's put up or shut up time."
BTW: J.B. Van Hollen was the event's emcee. He and Christie knew each other when both were U.S. attorneys. Each spoke warmly of the other. Christie says he was cheering the results four years ago when J.B. -- to whom he made a campaign contribution -- was the only Republican to claim a statewide constitutional office from the Democrats anywhere in the nation.
Scott Walker was in top form. He promised that his first act as governor would be to walk across the marble lobby of the East Wing's second floor where he would hand to A.G. Van Hollen his authorization to join other states in challenging the mandated health insurance premiums of ObamaCare. Big cheer. (Doyle has refused his assent.)
He also promised to institute merit teacher pay and make it easier for local school districts to get rid of under-performers. That's critical to economic development.
When you think about it, it was the earliest iteration of the tea party that swept Scott Walker into power as county executive of Democratic Milwaukee County eight years ago over a tidal wave of disgust at the pension scandal -- another example of the governing class enriching themselves at the expense of the taxpayer.
No one is bashing public employees except when they over-reach (Viagra, anyone?) and refuse to share the sacrifices of taxpayers who are being squeezed by the Great Recession.
Like Christie, Scott Walker won election in a very blue part of the country.
Monday's event was so electric that even Ginnie Marschmann's invocation got a laugh and a cheer. Outside of J.B., with whom I chatted briefly, I saw no one I knew from Dane County except Wendy Fjelstad.
A word about The Kathleen
Word filtered to my table that Kathleen Falk had announced her resignation effective April 1. Ironically, it was J.B. who defeated The Kathleen for A.G. That is when I figured I better harvest the message from my cell phone. It was Miss Vicki, asking me to go on the air at 5 p.m.
In the previous hour, she and Brian Schimming had run through a host of names who ought to be considered as candidates to succeed her. They stroked your host's overweening ego by mentioning his name. (So did Comrade Nichols.)
During my segment the three of us speculated on a Halloween House of Horrors of candidates. My top nominee is Spencer Black. He's free and greener than a tree frog.
Oooh! Scary, boys and girls!
Here are other frightening apparitions broadcast over the airwaves last evening: Mark Pocan, Austin King, Brenda Konkel, Al Matano, Comrade Nichols, Ed Garvey, John Hendrick, Bill Keys, and Annie L. Gaylor.
Let's not forget Tunnel Bob and the Orange Guy.
Lukas Diaz is spoiling for a McDonell v. Matano and Blaska v. Blaska primary. I warn you, I go negative from the get-go! Mikeboy, I'm coming after you!
Speaking of, I owe an apology to Scott McDonell. I have disparaged him in the past as being The Kathleen's "cabana boy." But it is clear he is his own man, first by endorsing Dianne Hesselbein to Kathleen's Brett Hulsey for 77th Assembly. But the clearest indication is the timing of her departure -- done so as to prevent the county board chair from naming himself as her successor. Which has been done (Rod Matthews succeeding Jonathan Barry).
Oh, I promised to say a word about The Kathleen and I will be gracious: I take her at her word. She has nothing lined up. She's just tired of the job and it is a demanding job. I will also grant that the lady knows how to use power and I respect that, if not the uses to which it was put. As was said about LBJ, if you crossed her you worried about your barn burning down.
Nancy Mistele was right after all when she questioned The K's commitment to a four-year term. This is the third time that The K. has interrupted or sought to interrupt her term with other plans (the first two times for higher office).
I am truly upset with the news today that Kathleen Falk will step away from her duties come April 2011. I made no bones that it was unacceptable for AlaskaGovernor Sarah Palin, a Republican, to walk away from her elected duties. So tonight I feel I must be as honest when it comes to a liberal Democrat who is about to do the same.... She let all of Dane County down.
He makes the point that The Kathleen asked for a full term and her supporters worked for her on that basis. I also criticized Sarah Palin for quitting in mid-stream.
RoJo and the Mama Grizzly
The Squire of the Stately Manor wound up a full day of politics at the gracious home of Patty Doughty Shabaz on the far northeast side of Madison in the Cherokee neighborhood. You might know her mister: Retired federal judge John "Hang 'em High" Shabaz. As the judge always does in such situations, he made a quick round of the guests then hid in the well-appointed basement to avoid partisan politics, inasmuch as he remains a reserve judge. He's very scrupulous about that. (John is the guy who taught Tommy Thompson his politics.)
The special guest of the evening was Senate candidate Ron Johnson. The large home was shoulder-to-shoulder packed. Price of admission: $50. I consumed half that amount in roast beef and pinot grigio. Chatted with 2nd Congressional District candidate Chad Lee. He is startlingly good looking, even in person.
My on-line editor (yes, I do have one) Jason Joyce says throwing names into the blog header increases hits. As you can see, I am taking his advice and then some. Now, that leaves one more name to drop. Received this e-mail:
From: Peter Terpeluk, Chairman, RNC Victory 2010
Subject: Sarah Palin Wants
to Meet You
Date: October 4, 2010 9:32:52 PM CDT
To: David Blaska
I WILL respond!