A few months ago, at the Madison Tea Party, I had the pleasure of running into Mt. Horeb resident Chad Lee, the presumed Republican challenger to my representative, Tammy Baldwin.
After admiring Lee's pocket constitution and discussing several issues of little importance to the district, I informed Lee he had "the face to be a Congressman." He responded, "let's hope I have the head too."
Touché Mr. Lee, touché. Well, let's check out his website. The writing ain't bad. Lee has clearly benefited from the help of a creative writing major to fight back accusations of plagiarism. Whatever College Republican is writing the press releases, he/she offers impressive diversity of verbs to describe Lee's statements. "Lee notes," "Lee asserts," and "Lee observes," are my personal faves. H/T to political positions, it does not appear Chad has the head to represent the 2nd congressional district in Congress.
Among many other far right stances, Lee states support for privatization of Social Security (not just "reform"), implies that global warming is "junk science," and denounces corrupt unions.
None of those positions will get him any closer to 50 plus 1, and none of them will make 2nd CD voters rethink their reflexive opposition to GOP candidates.
Do any Republicans ever look at the election returns over the past decade and wonder why the GOP can't get within 20 percent of Tammy Baldwin? Do they forget that they used to win the district? There was a guy named Scott Klug. He was against the drinking age, supported abortion rights and in at least one case voted against vouchers for religious schools. He was a 2nd district Republican.
"It's peculiar," noted Erwin Knoll, editor of the Madison-based magazine The Progressive, "that in their own ways each of them are candidates who are tailor-made for this district.
The re-districting that took place after UW Professor John Sharpless came within two points of Baldwin in 2000 probably made the district more Democratic, but not by much. The biggest change was the inclusion of Rock County, which is solidly Democratic and medium-sized. However, in 2000 the district still voted overwhelmingly for Gore with Dodge and Richland being the only counties for Bush. Only a sliver of Dodge was in the district anyway.
However, instead of shifting slightly to the left to try to be competitive in the district, the GOP has forfeited the 2nd to whatever poor schmuck is willing to convince college kids they should stay far, far away from the Republican Party.
Is the national coherence of the Republican message so important that the party is willing to systematically humiliate itself in left-leaning districts, year after year?