Smokin' hot Wisconsin primary action
It's primary day in our fair state, and all of the politicians and wonks are abuzz with anticipation! Well, mostly the Republicans, who have genuine choices to make on the statewide level. Democrats know who they're getting as their official party nominees for Senate and Governor (Feingold and Barrett, respectively).
The Grand Ol' Party (and those interested in crossing the line to do some "strategic" voting), on the other hand, will really be culling the herd today. My guess is that Scott Walker will get the final nod to run for the top spot-which isn't to say that he'd be a better candidate than Neumann, or that the race hasn't been surprisingly close. Meanwhile, RoJo will be allowed to continue his quixotic quest to represent Wisconsin in Washington by railing against sunspots and toaster ovens and generally being a tool.
If you're curious to see some neutral fact checking of the major candidate's statements about one another, by the by, do head over to the newly launched Wisconsin branch of Politifact.
The more interesting and less certain races are those for less sexy but still important offices like Lt. Governor and State Assembly. Regarding the former I admit to being torn between the two candidates who likewise received a joint endorsement from Rep. Mark Pocan in a recent and, I thought, well-worded editorial in the Wisconsin Gazette. Both Henry Sanders and Sen. Spencer Coggs would be excellent choices for Lt. Governor (actually, I'd kind of rather they were running for straight-up governor but we'll give it time), having both been outspoken in their support for things like LGBT rights specifically and equality in general.
I admit to being slightly biased toward Sanders, who's really done a lot to put himself out there in the community to show solidarity with good causes (he also made equality the central platform plank in his run), and has hustled like crazy to gain some name recognition when he is, ultimately, a serious underdog with fewer big time political ties than the other candidates. Sanders also brings a nice balance between private and public sector work in his background, and strikes me as someone who would bring a breath of fresh air to the office.
The contest over Spencer Black's soon to be vacated Assembly seat in the 77th district has also been pretty heated, as five Democrats all vie for the nod. It's like Thunderdome, but if pretty much all but one candidate was more concerned with fighting over who most resembled the previous champion, as opposed to actually defeating Master Blaster.
Jack, my fellow TDP blogger over at The Sconz, had some good thoughts about who's endorsing who for this spot and what that could mean (his takedown of the Wisconsin State Journal's endorsement habits, while slightly childish, is hilarious).
Dane County supervisor Brett Hulsey got the support of the WSJ, while attorney Fred Wade won a somewhat unexpected endorsement from the Daily Cardinal. Former member of the Middleton-Cross Plains area school board Diane Hesselbein has the support of groups like the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin Chapter and people like former Madison mayor Paul Soglin.
My money is on a very close finish between Hesselbein, Hulsey and Wade with my hope that the prize ultimately goes to either Hesselbein or Wade.
It should go without saying that it's Tammy Baldwin all the way for the Wisconsin 2nd Congressional seat. But there, I've said it.
Election resources: Q&A with all five candidates, courtesy WISC-TV. Look up your voting registration and polling place here. The always invaluable League of Women Voters election guide can be found here.
A few fun recent developments in the Edgewater redevelopment saga ("As the Edgewater Turns"? "All My TIF Districts"?):
The Board of Estimates just barely passed the TIF District expansion (with a 3-3 vote and the Mayor jumping in to break the tie) to include the Edgewater Hotel. Brenda Konkel covered the meeting at length and also had some feelings about it all. It does appear to be a rather messy proposal and doesn't bode well for future smooth sailing. I mean for one thing, why include a section of land/neighborhood James Madison Park whose residents don't even want to be part of it? This process continues to get weirder and more desperate by the day.
Also, Hammes Co. (the folks behind the redevelopment project) has just announced a partnership with the Building Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin aimed at "special jobs outreach and training during the $98 million redevelopment of the historic Edgewater hotel."
That's certainly a good thing, especially since it's one of the concerns people have had with the project from the beginning that the new building actually create local jobs now being addressed. The problem I still have isn't with the redevelopment itself but with the manner by which certain local officials and the Hammes Co. have gone about getting the necessary approvals and accomodations from the city to make it happen. Unfortunately, that taints ostensibly good-faith efforts like this outreach and training program with the stink of pandering.