Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Right Wing “RINO(kugel)” Hunting is Fierce

Wisconsin's right wing didn't waste much time forcefully attacking Dick Leinenkugel after he made his official announcement about running in the Republican primary. It really isn't that surprising, only the most politically out-of-touch person would have thought that the reaction would be any different. The only thing that may be slightly surprising is just how fierce and quick the right wing reaction has been to the former Commerce Secretary.

For example, Badger Blogger did a post declaring "Stop this RINO" and "Dick Leinenkugel is the very definition of RINO (Republican In Name Only), and must be stopped. Defeat Dick RINOkugel!"

Brian Fraley of the MacIver Institute sent out a tweet reacting to a Leinenkugel interview with Charlie Sykes and made this 140 character observation: "Dick Leinenkugel's @SykesCharlie Interview will haunt him for the duration of his campaign. Train Wreck would be polite." The tweet then includes the tag "#noleinie".

Conservative blogger Kevin Binversie retweets Fraley's sentiments that Leinenkugel's interview with Sykes was a train wreck.

Then there is the new Twitter feed, "RINOkugel", which not only tracks the other right wing attacks of Leinenkugel's candidacy, but it also offers its own original commentary. One that stood out to me was the following tweet from "RINOkugel":

"leinenkugel kicks off campaign at 4x drunk driver business?"

It appears that this is a reference to him making his official announcement at Helgesen Development Corp. in Janesville. When I saw this tweet, I did a quick check of CCAPS and I did find several OWI cases listed for a Jeffrey W. Helgesen, which is also the name of the President of the company. I don't know much detail beyond that but obviously someone else does and they are using it to question Leinenkugel about where he chose to kick off his campaign. If this tweet and the general right wing reaction is any indication, a "RINO(kugel)" hunt is already in full season and it has been noticeably fierce right from the beginning.

UPDATE: Blogging Blue takes a look at more reaction.

Monday, April 26, 2010

RJ Johnson, Milwaukee County Medical Examiner

Last week reports surfaced that Milwaukee County's Medical Examiner resigned. Those reports also highlighted the poor job that the Walker administration has done in terms of staffing key positions. Given Walker's track record of constantly hiring questionably qualified candidates from within his own political gene pool, I have to wonder which crony he will stick in the medical examiner's slot (assuming that he permanently fills it). RJ Johnson has been one of his latest political operatives; maybe he is due for a promotion on Milwaukee County Taxpayer's dime. I can see the sign on his office door already, "RJ Johnson, Medical Examiner". Given Walker's history of hiring political cronies, it may not be as far from reality as one might think.

Consider some of the following:

  • Jim Villa worked for Walker's campaigns bouncing between them and taxpayer financed county jobs.
  • Robert Dennik, a former lobbyist and Walker campaign manager was appointed as head of the now nonexistent Milwaukee County Division of Economic and Community Development. Let's just say that his time there didn't go so well for him or for Milwaukee County.
  • Tim Russell has repeatedly bounced back and forth between Walker campaigns and taxpayer funded positions (including a recent promotion). At one point he even took over the train wreck that was the Economic Development job (with not much more success).
  • Walker wanted to give a county job to Chuck Grapentine even though he didn't even want to move to Milwaukee County. Chuck is the father of a former Walker aide.
  • Cynthia Archer was appointed as head of Administrative Services in 2007. She was previously a top administrator for Walker's former Republican colleague in the State Assembly, Carol Kelso.
  • David Bradley Carr had not been out of law school very long before Walker replaced a veteran member of the Ethics Board with him. It was reported at the time that a partner at a law firm suggested Carr to Walker. Several partners and members of that same law firm have also been big campaign contributors to Walker. But I'm sure that had nothing to do with it.

I think the title of a May 9, 2002 MJS story had it right when it said that "Walker has rewards in mind for backers".

So like I said at the beginning, does this mean that RJ Johnson is up for a promotion to Milwaukee County Medical Examiner? Maybe Walker can follow that up with Jill Bader for Corporation Counsel and Keith Gilkes for head of Health and Human Services.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Does Neumann Have a Plan B?

Last week we found that there are some apparent rifts between elements of the Tea Party movement in Wisconsin and some of the Republican establishment. The Tea Party email that was leaked last week lamented an "old-guard Republican", "thinking in terms of Rs and Ds", and "GOP gamesmanship". The writer of the email also cited "a divide that's existed for some time now between the GOP and the grassroots." Some of Mark Neumann's messaging suggests that he is trying to exploit some of these rifts.

In several of his ads and in other elements of his messaging, he repeatedly refers to himself as a "conservative" rather than a "Republican". In fact, in a recent story he quite directly makes such a distinction. While touring a sporting goods store in downtown Portage, a man asked Neumann, "are you a Republican or a conservative?" Neumann apparently gave the answer that the man wanted to hear saying, "I'm a conservative". Neumann went on to answer that "Both Democrats and Republicans spend too much money." In a video interview that accompanies the story, Neumann goes on to suggest that he can help "restore the Republican Party to what it once was."

This approach makes strategic sense to me. After all, Scott Walker is clearly the Republican establishment favorite in the primary. Given that fact along with the rifts between the tea party and that same establishment, it makes sense that he is focusing on being a "conservative" and on trying to "restore the Republican Party". But can the Tea Party push Mark Neumann past the Republican establishment and across the finish line in the Republican primary? I don't know, but it will certainly be interesting to observe.

Another natural question that I find even more intriguing is whether Mark Neumann is truly committed to this approach? Will he take it all the way to its logical conclusion if he ends up losing to the establishment candidate? Given all of his "conservative v. Republican" messaging and his observation that the Republican Party needs to be "restored", is he preparing for a Plan B should he lose the primary? If he really believes that the current Republican Party needs to be "restored", is he willing to run as an independent and as the "real conservative"? I wish the editorial board in Portage would have asked him.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tommy and Trouble in the Tea Party

Today Tommy Thompson is set to headline a tea party and apparently he is supposed to (finally) make up his mind about whether he is running. Not everyone is happy about seeing Tommy at the tea party. One of his potential opponents and someone that identifies closely with the tea party movement, David Westlake, made the following comments regarding Thompson's speaking today:

"He's using a platform that's supposed to be about rallying around a common cause to reduce the size of government, to lower spending and lower taxes and he's using it for his own personal announcement. He's not the tea party movement. He's a big spender and did a lot of things that was the antithesis of what people in the tea party want."

Tommy's potential primary opponent isn't the only person that isn't happy about his speech today. It has caused a rift between elements of the tea party, Americans for Prosperity and the Republican establishment in Wisconsin. An email exchange from within the tea party movement has been leaked. That email sheds additional light on what the rank-and-file actually think of Tommy and what they think of Americans for Prosperity's Mark Block. The subject line of the email reads, "URGENT: Immediate Coalition Response Requested re: Tommy Thompson". The entire email message is very illuminating on several levels and is provided below (I have redacted Mark Block's personal cell phone number):


I'm writing to you on behalf of Tim Dake and myself regarding AFP's announcement that Tommy Thompson will be the main speaker at the Tax Day Rally tomorrow morning.

First, of all, it is now clear, based on media reports, that Tommy will be using tomorrow's appearance to test the waters in regards to getting into the senate race. He's basically come out and said that he'll know after tomorrow whether he's running. Tim and I have talked to many of you already, and we are aware that many people are feeling betrayed. I for one was incredibly frustrated and angry when I heard the news. We were promised by AFP that they would not use the Tax Day Rally stage as a stump for candidates. But that is exactly what Mark Block has done in booking Tommy--turned the stage into a political wind sock, and therefore, effectively, a stump. One could make the argument that Ron Johnson was also a bad choice of speakers in this regard since he's talking about getting in the senate race if Tommy doesn't.

Second, regardless of whether Tommy runs or not, we now have a large problem on our hands. As things now stand, thousands of people will arrive for the Tax Day Rally tomorrow only to find politics as usual in the form of a progressive Republican on the stage. This situation is extremely dangerous to us. It sends the wrong message about who and what we are as a movement. And it potentially compromises the trust that many have now begun to place in the vision and commitment of conservative grassroots in this state.

Let's be perfectly frank. Mark Block, the current director of AFP, is an old-guard Republican. He is still inured in party politics and has not made the paradigm shift that you and I have made. He's still thinking in terms of Rs and Ds--not constitutionalism versus progressivism.

Tim and I are requesting an immediate response from you. In order to have an impact, we need to be unified on this issue.

Do we stand in agreement that having Tommy Thompson speak is the wrong thing?

If so, Tim and I need you to call Mark Block now and voice your opposition. He needs to understand now that he is irresponsibly playing with our reputation, that co-opting grassroots events for political/GOP gamesmanship is not acceptable, that he has compromised our trust in doing this thing, and that if this bad decision is not immediately undone and rectified (meaning, someone else speaks in Tommy's place), there will be consequences in the relationship between local grassroots and AFP moving forward. Again, we need to be polite but very firm.

Here's Mark's cell number: 262.XXX.XXXX

If Mark asks what the consequences will be, tell him only that that is currently being actively discussed amongst the coalition members, but he should be assured that action will be taken.

The next matter we need to decide is what the more immediate consequences will be if Mark chooses to move ahead with having Tommy speak.

Again, we have choices.

1) We can threaten to pull out of the event. I'm not a big fan of this plan since AFP could perhaps quickly replace a lot of the local grassroots speakers with other GOPers. That would leave no way to counterbalance party nonsense with solid message.

2) We can either voice our displeasure and/or demonstrate it with a show of signs, or walk away when Tommy comes on the stage, taking as many people with us as we can. There has been some concern about such a strategy giving the enemy a chance to point to infighting in the movement. But actually, it's not infighting. It's a divide that's existed for some time now between the GOP and the grassroots. We would simply be rejecting what we see as an attempt to co-opt the movement and any statements/press releases could reflect that fact.

3) We can allow Tommy to speak, remaining entirely polite but unexcited. Giving him only a lukewarm reception tomorrow, we could possibly follow up with press releases, distancing ourselves from him the next day.

We are open to other suggestions, but we need them quickly. You can either email Tim or I or contact us by phone. I believe you all have Tim's number already, but I can be reached at the cell phone listed below.

Thank you for standing together as a coalition.

Kirsten Lombard


The Wisconsin 9/12 Project

Madison, WI

UPDATE: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is now reporting on this issue.

UPDATE 2: Looks like Charlie Sykes joined in the Mark Block bashing on his program this a.m.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Scott Walker Presented Through Google Search

The blog Forward Our Motto put this video together using a new Google tool. Aside from the free advertising for Eye on Wisconsin, I especially liked how "Scott Walker's Achievements" brought back ZERO RESULTS.

Money Quote: Ben Stein

In his comments calling for the resignation of RNC Chair Michael Steele, Republican Ben Stein offers the following:

The GOP is not the party of small town virtues and verities if it has
multi-thousand-dollar bills for meals and drinks at The Beverly Hills Hotel and
the Voyeur Club.

The latest chapter in what Reince Priebus calls RNC "unity".

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Speaking of Taxes...Don't Forget these Credits/Cuts

The President highlights many of the tax cuts and credits that were made available in the stimulus bill (there are more than a dozen) and reminds working families to take full advantage of them. He also points to some of the tax cuts/credits that we can look forward to because of the passing of health care reform.

The White House also offers this handy dandy Tax Savings Tool.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Fox News: IRS More Popular than Tea Party

Earlier in the week, Xoff drew our attention to a new Gallup Poll showing that the Tea Party was only slightly more popular (37% favorable) than socialism (36% favorable). Now Fox News has delivered a poll showing that the Tea Party is significantly less popular (39% favorable) than the Internal Revenue Service (49% favorable). Just before tax time no less.

ht: Think Progress

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Welcome to the Leine Campaign HQ?

New campaign website registered under State phone

Is This What He Meant by "Unity"?

Not even a full year ago, an inquiring mind sent an email to RPW Chair Reince Priebus asking how things were going while he was in Washington D.C. I assume that at least part of that question was about his involvement with the long train wreck that had already become Michael Steele's tenure at the Republican National Committee.

Reince repsonded, "Total unity and Steele kicking ass...Really no lie - I will send you the links"

I wonder if by "unity" Reince actually meant firings, resignations and calls for Steele to resign? I wonder if by "kicking ass" Reince actually meant that Steele was telling GOP big-wigs to "shut up..."get a life" and "fire me"?

As far as sending links, I wonder if Reince sent any of these as follow-ups?

"RNC Fallout: 'Ashamed' donor closes checkbook"

"RNC Document Mocks its Own Donors"

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A Three-Pack of Questions

While everyone else is speculating about the rumors that Dick Leinenkugel is preparing to run for U.S. Senate, I have three basic questions, assuming that the rumors are true:

1. Exactly who recruited him?

I can't imagine that it was anyone at the Republican Party of Wisconsin, with all of their counterproductive vitriol while he has been Secretary of Commerce. Wasn't it Dick Leinenkugel that praised the budget last year, saying that it would "spur business growth"? You don't have to look at the RPW's budget-time talking points very long to learn what they thought of those comments. And what about the fact that he was headlining fundraisers for Democratic candidates as recently as December 10th?

Who knows? Maybe it could be big biz folks and/or Tommy loyalists that recruited him. Or maybe it was the national Republican big-wigs that have been so desperate to get a real candidate.

2. Whoever they are...are they really this tone-deaf to their increasingly extreme base?

Are Republicans so desperate to get a real candidate that they will simply ignore the feelings of the rank-and-file? For example, I'm sure that the average tea party attendee will have a hard time digesting Leinenkugel's declaration in November that "Wisconsin is a great place to do business" and his support for the stimulus and high speed rail. It all runs totally contrary to their folklore.

3. Will a tea party candidate enter the picture in the Republican primary to stand for the the things that they purport to believe in?

UPDATE: Not exactly the best start to a campaign...already being panned by some conservatives and using a state phone number as a contact for a campaign website?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Walker's Crumbling County

UPDATE: Now the MJS is reporting that Walker was warned back in 2008 that work needed to be done on the Courthouse...as per his usual approach, he kicked the can down the road at a much higher long term cost to taxpayers (in money and safety). Milwaukee County First, Illusory Tenant and Jim Rowen already have a few observations posted on this news.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

We need a Folkbum in Congress

Visit Jay's campaign blog and join his effort to unseat Paul Ryan. Apparently he is getting so much traffic on the site, that his fundraising and email sign up pages are shutting down servers. BREAKING: Just when Jay had them right where he wanted them, he suddenly ended his campaign. Sadly Jay confirms that all of the rumors were actually true.