Tom Hagen to Michael Corleone: "Do you know how they will come after you?"
This is how they will come after Zach Brandon: by saying he is a "Blaska Democrat."
"Whoa Nelly!" as Keith Jackson used to exclaim.
Who else but a Blaska Democrat would announce his candidacy for Dane County Executive without once using terms like "Greenspace" or "conservation acreage?" The word "environment" is uttered just once. Oh, blessed relief! Are we in end times? Is this the rapture?
Instead, Zach Brandon mentioned the word "jobs" 13 times in his prepared remarks Tuesday.
But Zach Brandon is not a Blaska Democrat. Or a Blaska Republican. A Blaska candidate of any stripe in this supposedly non-partisan race would have talked about jobs, yes. But also about taxes, spending, and public safety. And maybe saggy pants.
Still, Brandon's announcement was a refreshing departure from that of County Board Chairman Scott McDonell, who appears to be positioning himself as the candidate of the public employees unions. Which, in Dane County, is not a bad thing to have. Scottie McD could also claim the Prog Dane wobblies.
Because they sure hate Zach Brandon. Brandon made his bones by beating down Progressive Dane as a three-term alderman on the Madison Common Council from 2003-2008. B.Z. (Before Zach), and egged on by Comrade Nichols, city government was held hostage by Brenda Konkel's and Austin King's social agenda: a local minimum wage, mandatory sick leave, government controls on lakefront condo prices, and trolley cars.
So irate was Progressive Dane that it had infiltrated the local Democratic Party to deny Brandon his party's endorsement in his 2007 re-election bid. Even though he was unopposed!
The Progs wanted revenge that Brandon supported an anti-loitering ordinance. He further engaged their ire by watching expenditures. Way back in 2004, a year after Brandon first took office, the Wisconsin State Journal marveled:
A Southwest Side Madison City Council Member Proposes A Bold New Idea: Fiscal Responsibility
In October of that year, Brandon proposed to cut $146,000 from neighborhood planning councils, which he had the brass to call, "the farm league for Progressive Dane." Whoa Nelly!
The Progressive Dane Kool-aid has pretty much evaporated but residues can be found in Lukas Diaz's comment yesterday that "Zach Brandon is a Dave Blaska Democrat."
If Zach Brandon and Scottie McD are the polar opposites of this race so far, Joe Parisi is the neutron -- nicely positioned in the middle. Parisi is a former county clerk who represents a suburban state Assembly district. A Democrat of good standing, he is an easy-going guy that has never caused any waves or made any enemies. Joe has managed not to leave any finger prints on public policy, which is his plus and his minus.
McDonell has alienated the anti-commuter rail contingent who took 71 percent of the vote in advisory referenda in the communities outside Madison and Fitchburg, prompting one town board to decry his "failure of ... leadership."
The wild card at this point is Jon Hochkammer (pronounced HO-kammer). The fact that I felt the need to give the pronunciation of his name acknowledges that he is not that well known. But Jon is mayor of one of the best-run and fastest-growing cities around -- Verona. He is a former county board chairman in his native Manitowoc County. Of the announced candidates, he has the best claim on the moderate-conservative vote.
He could well survive a four-way primary and, especially against McDonnel, Jon Hochkammer could be the man to beat.
Now that The Kathleen is out of the way, more candidates will get in the Dane County Exec's race. Possibly former State Sen. Joe Wineke, who is out of a job come January 3 when Republicans take over state government. Possibly Jonathan Barry, who set the mold for what a county exec could be. Eileen Bruskewitz would be credible.
Any tea party millionaires out there?
This could get interesting
Will Scott Walker play hardball with the public employee unions? This from today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
Governor-elect Scott Walker raised the possibility of essentially abolishing state employee unions on Tuesday as one option to control rising employee benefits costs and eliminate the state's budget deficit.
Walker wants to require state employees to contribute 5% of their salary to their pensions -- they currently pay nothing. That compares to a typical 50% by private sector workers -- IF they get any contribution at all from their employers. The governor-elect wants state employees to pay a bit more for their health costs -- 12%, up from 4% to 6% now. Whoa Nelly!
Kaleem Caire's Madison charter school
Must send some business to Forward Lookout where Madison School Board member Lucy Matthiak takes a brave stand against the forces of status quo, including former school board member Carol Carstensen. Matthiak writes in favor of Kaleem Caire's proposed Madison Prep charter school. I tell you, this is THE local issue for the coming year. Lucy M. writes:
If there is any chance that this will give the students who are being marginalized in our schools the motivation, skills, and opportunities for academic achievement, I am all for it. While we have been making speeches, their futures are being cut off by our willingness to imagine that MMSD is a bastion of informed and progressive educational practice. It may be great for the caucasian middle class kids, but students of color are operating in the land of no expectations and no vision. That is unacceptable in 2010.
The Ed Garvey 'Whoa Nelly!' meter
I'm worried about Ed "Fighting Bob" Garvey. Used to be that any crime against Progressivism would merit a hearty, "Whoa Nelly!" from Ed in his blog. Some examples:
"Walker asked the feds to let him spend the $810 million on highways! Whoa Nelly!"
"Obama indicated he would compromise on the Bush tax cuts! Whoa Nelly!"
"If you had doubts before Afghanistan became Obama's war, wait to read the new book by none other than Bob Woodward. Whoa Nelly!"
The month of December is not over yet but for its first seven days my friend Fighting Ed has said "Whoa Nelly!" only once. This is well behind Fighting Ed's pace. Perhaps it is a sign of resignation. After all, Russ Feingold is looking for work and Barack Obama is turning Republican.
My lab boys at the Blaska Research Center ran Ed Garvey through the Remington Rand Univac computer (aka "Old Sparky") to tabulate Ed's "Whoa Nellies!" per month:
November -- 10 Whoa Nellies!
October -- 12 Whoa Nellies!
September -- 11 Whoa Nellies!
August -- 3 Whoa Nellies!
July -- 4 Whoa Nellies!
June -- 8 Whoa Nellies!
We can see that the "Whoa Nellies!" reached a crescendo in the Fall when public opinion polls predicted and, in November, election results confirmed the Republican tsunami.
But what do Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and their sidekick, Pat Brady, have to do with Whoa Nelly!? While everyone else on the 1950s TV show rode well behaved horses, Pat Brady drove a WW2 vintage Jeep. Like the horses, the early SUV had its own name. But he could never keep the wayward device under control. Hence, before Keith Jackson, the sidekick would holler, "Whoa Nellybelle!"
Much hilarity ensued.