This weekend was the NBA All-Star weekend. The festivities included the Three-Point Shootout. At the first contest in 1986, Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics went into the locker room beforehand and asked everybody, "Who's playing for second?" Such braggadocio may seem empty these days, but at the height of his career, Larry Bird could make such a boast and you could take it to the bank. He won that contest and went on to win it the next two years.
There are a few things you can take to the bank regarding Tuesday's Primary Election:
- Bryon Eagon and Katrina Flores will make it out of the District 8 Primary.
- Steve King and Joe Clausius will run through their competition in Districts 7 and 17.
- Julie Genovese and Stephen Ehlke will face off in the first seriously contested Dane County Circuit Judge race in forever.
- Sherman Hackbarth will finish fourth in the District 2 Primary and Dennis Denure will finish fifth.
- Brenda Konkel will win on Tuesday night.
That leaves us having to answer Larry Bird's question: Who is playing for second…in the Second? Either Bridget Maniaci or Adam Walsh will make it through the Primary to face Brenda one-on-one in April. The other will know the taste of bitter Primary defeat that I only know too well.
At this point, I should make my interests known. I have been a friend of Brenda's for about 13 years, we've worked together on more issues than I can list now (particularly when I was the president of the Old Market Place Neighborhood Association), I've supported her in the past and am supporting her now. I also serve on the Democratic Party of Dane County's Executive and Campaign committees and have had ample opportunity to hear from Bridget and Adam. They're both good and decent individuals and, as Don Corleone would say, I wish them success…so long as their interests don't conflict with mine.
As this race heats up, it is becoming apparent that the battle for second place is a very tight one. Both candidates have raised and spent roughly the same amount of money and appear to have drummed up a measure of support. Over the weekend, I talked with many people who live on the Central Isthmus, as well as many observers and the response was split between the both of them. Here's what I see in both as candidates:
Pros: Energetic candidate, has received some notable endorsements particularly The Daily Cardinal and Badger Herald, city government experience.
Cons: That blog it's a bit much and I don't like to see as much negativity as we see here. It's also odd that she's spending so much time leading up to the Primary working on the Statue of Liberty project. While it's nice, it calls into question the priorities of someone who wants to convince people she'll work to be a leader in city government. If I were her, I'd spend more time talking with voters. And while I don't buy the argument that she needs more seasoning (as Adam Walsh said on Tony Castaneda's "8 O'Clock Buzz" on WORT last Thursday), I do wonder if someone who's rented in the district for only two years has the right degree of connection with the potential constituency.
Pros: Homeowner, more years' residency in the district than Bridget, good qualifications, also an energetic candidate.
Cons: I saw his yard signs a few days ago saying "Now you can vote for W" and I have yet to stop cringing. While he has a few more yard signs up than Bridget, I haven't detected much more public outpouring of support for Adam. The only notable endorsement he's received is the Dane County Public Affairs Council and Phil Salkin seems to have developed a man crush on him. Considering the values of District 2 residents, this doesn't look very good for Adam. And finally, I know from experience that being a married man is a wonderful thing. I'm not certain if it's a qualification for city council. I find his emphasis on this odd.
If Bridget can use her student paper endorsements to bring out a high number of student voters in the western most ward in the district, she gets through. If there is some kind of "Silent Majority" in the eastern most ward (as has been claimed) that is motivated to vote on Tuesday, that may be what Adam needs to prevail. From where I'm sitting, it looks like a coin-toss.
When checking out the results on Tuesday night, it is important to see how much of a percentage Brenda wins by. She has been hammered by three opponents for weeks, as well as by the Mayor's office and the local media establishment for much, much longer. If she cracks 50% of the vote, it will be a spectacular triumph on her part and will send a message that District 2 voters have their own voice.
I referenced Tony Castaneda's "8 O'Clock Buzz" show from Thursday. He had Adam and Bridget on together. Tony's style of interviewing can best be described as combative, sometimes hostile. That, of course, is a big part of his charm. You can check out the podcast of Thursday's show here it's very entertaining and informative.
Be sure to vote on Tuesday!
Bonus Recommended Reading:
Not all AM talk is evil. John Quinlan hosts a very provocative, issues-engaging show called "Forward Forum" and it's unfortunately on when most people aren't listening to the radio (Sundays, 2-3 p.m., 1670 AM).
He's been blogging recently about his experiences seeking a committee post in city government. These posts articulate what I see as a certain disquiet among the progressive base in Madison. I can't recommend his blog enough and look to address some of these issues in the future. You can check it out here.
Mike Basford is a community and political activist with nearly 20 years' experience working on local campaigns.