Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Leah Vukmir Welcomes Your Hate

Or how to run for U.S. Senate in the land of scorched-earth politics.

By - Sep 12th, 2017 11:03 am
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Leah Vukmir. Photo from LeahVukmir.com

Leah Vukmir. Photo from LeahVukmir.com

Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir has announced her campaign for U.S. Senate in 2018, and I seem to loom large in the press release for her candidacy.

Near the top of the testimonials to Vukmir is this one from WISN conservative talk show host Dan O’Donnell: “If the Shepherd Express hates you and Milwaukee Magazine hates you and Bruce Murphy hates you… I’m struggling to find how that’s a negative here…”

Ouch. I was not aware I hated Leah Vukmir, but no doubt O’Donnell knows more about this than I do, being such an expert on hate. Leah and I occasionally appeared on the TV pundit shows of Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling and I always found her personally likable.

As for pairing me in the hate department with the Shepherd, that won’t please the publication, which once bashed me in its anonymous Expresso column for my allegedly Republican views.

The larger point here is that Leah is happy to be hated by many people, even if it includes “the Republicans that are fighting to increase road taxes and gas taxes and usage fees and import tollways,” as O’Donnell notes. They are probably just RINOs, or Republicans in Name Only, and hate from them is apparently good, too.

Or as conservative talker Mark Belling noted, in another testimonial quoted by the campaign: “Leah Vukmir has been the one who has always been trying to push the envelope and keep the Republican Party conservative, and move it more conservative.”

Yes, the party must move ever further right, and the best way to do that, it seems, is to excoriate and exclude people. Once Wisconsin’s Republicans were the party of the Big Tent; now they like throwing campers out into the cold. That’s why loyal longtime party moderates like Mike Ellis and Dale Schultz had to be hounded by conservatives until they quit the legislature.

Vukmir could be the poster child for that approach. As a 2016 feature story in Milwaukee Magazine by Matt Hrodey found, Vukmir has “developed a reputation for walling herself off from debate and anyone who disagrees with her,” and for working with “a tight group of people” that excludes any moderate conservatives. This apparently is seen as proof to O’Donnell that Milwaukee Magazine hates Vukmir, but the description is exactly the portrait of her that Vukmir’s campaign glories in, so go figure.

Strategically speaking, Vukmir’s hard-edged portrait of herself as the state’s uber conservative makes some sense, given that her opponent in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate is Kevin Nicholson, a former Democrat who switched parties in 2005 or 2008, depending on whose account you care to believe.

But there is little doubt that Vukmir, should she win the primary, will run in the general election with the same sort of draconian, us-against-them campaign against incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Baldwin is clearly a liberal, but rather old school: both as a state legislator and congresswoman, she’s loved finding someone from the Republican Party to co-sponsor legislation. Perhaps because she is a lesbian who has long dealt with prejudice, she typically looks for ways to convert those who disagree with her. She had a friendly and respectful relationship with former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, the man she beat in 2012 to become U.S. Senator.

Thompson always wanted to win everyone’s vote; he carried Democratic Milwaukee County every time he ran for governor. By contrast, he once noted, Republicans like Gov. Scott Walker now seek to get one vote more than 50 percent. Walker uses a “divide and conquer” approach, as he once confessed to his wealthy campaign contributor Diane Hendricks, who now backs Vukmir.

It is Walker, more than any politician, who has helped make Wisconsin one of the most politically polarized states in America. “No other state in America is as polarized over its governor,” as an analysis of voting and polling data by Journal Sentinel reporter Craig Gilbert found.

Consider the dispute over the extreme gerrymandering of Wisconsin, which has led to a legal challenge now before the U.S. Supreme Court. A long list of Republicans, including Arizona Senator John McCain and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, support a ruling that ends gerrymandering, as do 68 percent of all Republican respondents nationally, a new poll has found. That would be heresy in Wisconsin, where Republicans vociferously defend a rigged system that gives them a built-in, 25-seat advantage over Democrats in the race for 99 assembly districts.

Should she win the primary, Vukmir won’t be out to win the voters’ love, but to win their hate — for everything Baldwin and her supporters stand for. She wants to make this an all-out war between far right and far left, to make Wisconsin as polarized as possible, to stoke the kind of anger for liberals that brings more of her supporters to the polls. All she needs is one more vote than her opponent.

Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

40 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Leah Vukmir Welcomes Your Hate”

  1. Rich says:

    And with that smiling face and pro-life stance, she will.

  2. Vincent Hanna says:

    If a well-liked four-term governor couldn’t beat Baldwin, how does Vukmir? Seems pretty much impossible.

  3. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    This is well-stated. No one plays the GOP “put-upon white victim” act better than ALEC Queen Leah. Because when you “froth at the mouth” to suppress votes of young people and minorities, and get huge donations to follow the orders of Diane Hendricks and other oligarcha, your the REAL victim.

    The way you beat it? Fight fire with fire, and expose Vukmir as the amoral slime everyone in Tosa knows her to be. Watch Walker try to stay away from her this time next year, because Vukmir is the more crass and obnoxious version of Walkerism.

    It only stops when we blow all of them out of power.

  4. Eric S says:

    The typically smaller electorate in midterm years (2018) as compared to presidential years (2012) could help Vukmir. How much, whether it’s enough – no idea. I think a big factor will be how the governor’s race plays out.

  5. Vincent Hanna says:

    Except the party in the White House loses seats in midterm years, so that doesn’t bode well for Vukmir. Doubly so considering the (un)popularity of the person in the White House.

  6. Eric S says:

    That’s also true. Maybe the broad trends (size of electorate, presidential party losing seats in midterms, relative popularity of other names on the ballot) end up canceling each other out and we’re back to just Baldwin v. Vukmir?

  7. Dumbledore says:

    Regardless of whether it is Leah Vukmir or anyone else, I especially like the line about how politicians are aiming for the 1 vote above 50 percent. I’d love for politicians to admit that a 52-48 margin is not overwhelming and does not indicate a mandate. In a crowd of 1000 people a 52-48 margin of red shirts vs. blue shirts would be virtually unidentifiable and yet politicians today think that 52 percent (or even less) gives them the authority to walk all over the 48 percent.

  8. Vincent Hanna says:

    What about incumbent advantage Eric? Which means statewide name recognition for Baldwin vs. Milwaukee region for Vukmir? I just see no scenario where it’s an even match.

  9. The money works better for Nicholson because he’s more of a cypher. Vukmir can’t hide through money the extremities of her political positions and how desperately she needs money to buy a personality makeover.

  10. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    There is no one that plays the “whiny white victim” role of today’s Wisconsin GOP than Leah Vukmir. You know, because when you spend your entire career selling out your amoral self to Diane Hendricks and other oligarchs, and are “frothing at the mouth” at your chance to gerrymander and suppress the votes of Democrats, you’re the REAL victim, after all.

    There is little question her campaign will have the subtext of “piss of liberals and THOSE PEOPLE by voting for me.” So how to combat it? Fight fire with fire. Show what a complete crook Vukmir is, and how full of crap her positions are. Remind people how her staff beat up a process server for refusing to follow court orders on open records, and that she exists entirely in a Bubble of hateful Milwaukee talk radio. And how she does the budding of Betsy DeVos, and openly pleads for the support of racist senile fool Bob Dohnal.

    Vukmir might be able to dish it out, but she can’t take it. There’s a reason she’s not staying in the Senate- she was going to be voted out due to her arrogance, even with the gerrymandering. Ask any Tosan. If she slips by the primary, Walker will be avoiding her by this time next year, to try to avoid guilt by association. Sorry Scotty, that won’t fly.

  11. Matt says:

    She seems to hate her constituents too. She’s repped me since 2004 and never knocked on my door. Or my neighbors. Maybe she’s just lazy. Or dumb. Or cocky. But it seems more likely its all of the above.

  12. Timothy J Haering says:

    Bathing in vitriol is so cliche. Whoever wins, we lose. Grothman shoulda run if GOP really wanted to put an end to Tammy. There are no inspiring politicians anymore.

  13. Paul Nannis says:

    She should love the hate….she earned it!!!

  14. Eric S says:

    Vincent, the day got away from me yesterday so I never got a chance to respond. Anyway, I tend to agree that the overall historical and broad trends probably make Baldwin a favorite and maybe I’m just feeling pessimistic (I do want Baldwin to win reelection) but I’m not willing to say she’s a shoo-in. Do you tend to see Baldwin as a prohibitive favorite over Vukmir, or as likely being ahead but not prohibitively so? (At this point, it’s probably too early to do much more than guess, I suppose.)

    I do wonder how the governor’s race ends up affecting the Senate race. If Walker wins easily, does that raise R turnout and/or depress D turnout enough to hurt Baldwin?

    And one thing I’ve not really looked into is the extent to which local and/or Congressional races might drive up either D or R turnout in certain areas and how much that could end up impacting the statewide Senate election.

    Just some rambling thoughts I have about that race.

  15. Vincent Hanna says:

    I think Baldwin has to be considered a clear favorite and I can see her and Walker winning. Baldwin beat a well-liked governor, has statewide name recognition, will be able to raise a lot of money, and benefits from Trump’s unpopularity and the fact that midterms always benefit the party not in the White House. I’m not saying Vukmir has no chance, but she will need everything to go her way to have a shot. I’m assuming she beats Nicholson in the primary. I’d say he has even less of a chance against Baldwin.

  16. Michael Drew says:

    Bruce scores again.
    Vukmir is something of an unknown statewide.but Diane Hendricks’s billions will take care of that. Fair-minded Milwaukeeans with memories already are familiar with her nihilistic opposition to the public interest from her consistently stupid observations as a talk show panelist. Want more of Scott Water and Trump? Wider cover of Vukmir’s hating in state newspapers will expose her as your candidate.
    Mike Drew

  17. duncan says:

    Baldwin won in 2012 with Obama on the ticket. Since then, Wisconsin has taken a 5-point turn to the GOP. Walker, Trump, Johnson.

    There’s still a lot of time left, but if Trump just dials his catastrophes down just a little .. from once a week to once every couple weeks .. Baldwin is headed for a loss.

    Trump voters are going to come out in force to defend their 2016 choices, governance be damned. Dem voters stay home like they always do in mid-term elections, and Wisconsin goes fully red.

    Anyone who thinks Baldwin has an advantage is deluding themselves. This will be tight, plenty of money spent for Vukmir and quite likely a loss for Democrats.

  18. Armin O says:

    People want to know if the rumor that Leah and Glenn Grothman are having an affair is still true. Maybe that is why she wants to work in Washington, to be closer to Glenn.

  19. Vincent Hanna says:

    First of all, you’re dreaming if you think Trump is going to dial down the catastrophes. There’s no reason to believe that will happen. Second, his approval rating is at a record low and shows no sign of going back up. Not to mention his approval rating has dropped even among his most ardent supporters. Even if his diehards vote, there’s not enough of them, and they’ll be even less by next November. That’s an extremely flawed analysis there duncan.

  20. fightingbobfan says:

    After Trump, there are no “for sures” anymore, in either direction.

    But I’ve seen her in action and she is crasser than any one I have ever seen.

    Don’t think Wisconsin can tolerate a second tool of the right wing in the Senate.

  21. Thomas says:

    Bruce Murphy,

    Accept the fact that you have been targeted as an object of hatred from reactionaries who call themselves conservatives as an honor. Reactionaries thrive on hatred towards those they perceive as liberal – despite the fact that they know nothing about liberal persons or principles. Right wing radio and TV tools have told them that liberals are bad people who want to dismiss their dream of returning to a pre-FDR era when people did not rely on such government bounty as that awarded by social security, unemployment compensation and the like.

    Leah V. has thrived politically on playing the L card and promoting reactionary agendas. Please keep patiently identifying her reactionary agenda, and tread lightly if you must expose some of the nastiness at the heart of it. Liberals lose in mud fights. Reactionaries love the mud from which they were born and in which they love to live – after a fashion no thinking person would wish to live.

  22. The only thing worthwhile in Wisconsin is the dells. Why bother?

  23. Vincent Hanna says:

    Yes clearly a state’s value is primarily determined by how many waterparks it has.

  24. Bill Kurtz says:

    Matt, you’re not alone. I have a friend, a lifelong conservative, who told me he twice contacted Vukmir and she never got back to him. No wonder she is, as several have said, hated in Wauwatosa. But single-issue voters and/or knee-jerk Republicans in Brookfield and Elm Grove have kept her in.

  25. Bill is right. The question is are there enough single-issue voters and knee-jerk Republicans in Wisconsin to give Baldwin a run?

  26. Vincent Hanna says:

    How did she win if no one likes her?

  27. Kenneth says:

    Republicans and white identity politics. Vukme will continue that course. Could be quite rousing!

  28. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Everything revolves round Trump. His popularity dod up to 45% the pst three weeks. This dummy Dem polls are fraud/fake news. If Trump is up, blames the Left on the fact that he cannot get his agenda through and ask everyone to come out and vote them out she is toast. Tommy did not lose to Baldwin he lost to the best run GOTV campaign in Wisconsin in history in 2012.
    That will not happen again as it is off year election. If leah gets out her vote she wins. Tammy has done nothing, just like herb kohl in there lives, but sometimes that is okay cause you make few enemies that way. She is nice person with tremendous ability/record, and that is up against Tammy who is also nice person but has done nothing.

  29. Thomas says:

    WCD probably exaggerates when he says “everything revolves around Trump;” nevertheless, Trump will factor in 2018 elections. It alarms me how many people continue to cling to Trump, despite his obvious ignorance and narcissism, his obsession with his own image – even when that obsession damages the interests of our nation and principles of truth and equality. Senator Baldwin will likely have a tough re-election due to the #of WI voters who want to believe silly #s such as those pitched by WCD and his pals. “Trump has a 45% approval rating” among residents of the lower circles of Dante’s Inferno perhaps, but he can’t poll much above 30% anywhere else. The problem is that Trump’s hell-hounds are good at diminishing more worthy candidates, and their vitriol poisons the political discourse to the extent that reasonable people who are uncertain about some issues are discouraged from voting.

    Leah V needs to be taken seriously because she is riding the train that the Tea Party caucus in congress (so-called freedom caucus) is riding in the interest of starving the beast they perceive as government – potentially at the cost of democracy in our country, and certainly at the expense of truth and reason. That train is crowded now, with many of the passengers riding in shadows.

  30. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Reading the comments from the “Leaders” of the left on this site is my most entertaining deal of the day. It is way to see why the left except for the coasts has become minority Green party that has forsaken the great leaders of the party”; Zablocki, Nelson, Lucy, Reuss, Huber that really cared about working people .
    Only 15 governors, 6 states. The rest of the people
    laugh at the Left.

  31. Jason Troll says:

    If Walker wins in 2018 than more than likely Vukmir wins as well. What does Tammy due? Run as a women or sexual orientation? Personally, I think she does better running as the openly gay Senator. The east and west coasters will shower her with money?

  32. Vincent Hanna says:

    “What does Tammy due? Run as a women or sexual orientation?”

    Are you drunk (in addition to being a homophobic white supremacist)? Try posting sober Troll. Or better yet don’t post at all.

  33. Jason Troll says:

    Vince, where have you been the last 10 years are you the political version of Rip Van Winkle. We just had a President that used his ethnicity to become President and as a political shield. We also has Hillary Clinton run with no economic message . She ran as the first women and wore that badge proudly. Why not run as the first lesbian Senator? Vince you make it seem like running as a gay candidate is not an asset maybe your the homophobe?

  34. Thomas says:

    Troll won the homophobe badge in post 33 by implying that running as a gay candidate is an asset. His failed attempt to put that badge on Vince reminded me of Trump calling Hillary crooked, suggesting that McCain was some sort of loser ,,, Trump insults trace easily back to his personal shortcomings. Troll’s insults follow that pattern.

    Those of us who are straight, and who like our gay neighbors, like them for aspects of their personalities that are not necessarily related to their sexual identities. We dig their well kept yards and the great dishes they bring to pot-lucks (stereotypical examples, yes) but evidence that gays work hard to win the approval of straights.

  35. Scott Enk says:

    Fine. Like many decent, thinking Wisconsinites, this lifelong Wisconsin progressive proudly hates Leah Vukmir. I’d welcome Vukmir’s hate, too — the more public she makes it, the better.

    To be on this dangerous moron’s enemies list is a sign that one is doing *something* good and decent, and is a supreme honor.

  36. Conservatives do not hate, leave that for nasty , mean Liberals. we just think you are incredibly stupid cause you cannot run anything and the public is laughing at you: Russian Colluison???

  37. Jason Troll says:

    Senator Baldwin might as well call Medicare for all Madurocare. Democrats wept when the dictator Chavez died. Venezuela is a socialist paradise. I dream of the day when I can go to the government owned Sendik’s . Wait in a long line and imagine what the government trucks have provided for the people. I will hope for canned beans. As I fight in line for the limited groceries with my fellow communists. I will send a picture on my government phone to my wife. When I am at a safe distance from Sendik’s. I will line up the can of beans to make a heart. Then I will walk home to my government home and pray to Jesus in the basement. My daughter an atheist and true believer in communism will tell the local boss that I am praying in the the basement and I will be sent away on a train.

  38. WashCoRepub says:

    Tired Tammy has been in office for what seems like forever… and her office seems to be mainly a press release machine that follows the Emily’s List playbook 100%. I think Leah is going to run a strong race, and I’m looking forward to supporting her to see the Conservative Revolution in Wisconsin take the next step!

  39. Jason TRoll says:

    The Left knows what makes this country great. Some would say God and the left has done everything to debunk him. Some would say private property which the left consistently attacks by making the vehicles you drive and the homes you own more expensive. I believe it is innovation that makes America the most unique country. As the left drives the profit out of healthcare. There will be no incentive to make better drugs, research more disease and build a better future for all Americans. Today’s middle class lives better than most millionaires from 1917.

  40. This country is great cause we got lots of innovative, energetic people like my relatives that came over her in the 1800s to work and prosper.
    They wanted security so they formed cities with police and firemen and they arrested thugs and crooks something that Milwaukee no longer does. The thugs laugh at us.
    Jason you are right on.

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