Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

The Whacko Primary for Governor

Seriously, a dozen or more Democratic candidates? It’s beyond the Republicans’ dreams.

By - Apr 19th, 2018 11:56 am
Josh Pade and Mike Crute.

Josh Pade and Mike Crute.

Is there anyone who isn’t running for governor in the Democratic primary?

Yesterday we learned that Mike Crute, who owns and does a talk show for the liberal Resistance Radio, WRRD 1510 AM, is running in the primary. No, he has no experience in politics, but Crute does have a story to tell if you’ve got time for it.

Last week, it was Josh Pade, a Kenosha corporate attorney no one ever heard of, who announced he will be a Democratic candidate for governor. His youtube introductory video is a fine new showcase for the polka, “Roll Out the Barrel,” should that ever be needed, but tells us not one word about Pade.

That’s how low the bar has gotten for entry into the Democratic primary. You just have to utter the word “Wisconsin,” note the need for change, and that we’re all in this together. Which only seems true because so many seem to be running.

The list is so large and ever-changing that no one seems to know the actual number. The media has variously estimated it at anywhere from nine to 18 candidates, which I guess depends on what you consider a candidate. Two hopefuls who entered the race, political neophyte Bob Harlow and hair salon owner Michele Doolan, have recently dropped out and endorsed Matt Flynn. That would be good news for Flynn, if anyone knew who Harlow and Doolan were.

The list of candidates could soon include Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who is putting out feelers for another run for governor. Yes, that’s the same Tom Barrett who ran and lost for the job in 2002, 2010 and 2012, the latter two times against Scott Walker. A source close to Barrett says there’s a “10 percent” chance he will run, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. That sound you hear is the laughter of Republicans across Wisconsin rolling in the aisles.

“The fact that ‘Try It Again’ Tom Barrett is preparing a fourth run for governor is proof positive that the Democrat establishment is struggling to salvage this race,” state GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman chortled to the Journal Sentinel.

“I have heard nothing but negative feedback about Tom running from Democrats and even from some close to him,” says a Democratic consultant who, needless to say, opposes the idea.

Barrett has apparently told people he’s not impressed with the quality of the candidates in the primary. Perhaps, but what about the quantity of the field? It’s never been greater. The list is gigantic, gargantuan, ginormous.

The field is “sprawling,” declared the Wisconsin State Journal, a “jumble,” harrumphed the Journal Sentinel, while the straight-laced Associated Press went with… “crowded.” How packed exactly? At a forum in Eau Claire, “12 Democratic candidates in attendance seated two deep on a crowded dais got to answer only three questions each,” the State Journal reported.

There were complaints back in 2014 that state Democratic Chair Mike Tate hand-picked business woman Mary Burke as his candidate and discouraged anyone else from running against Walker. Which clearly didn’t work.

No such problem this time. “I’m really proud we have so many incredible people who are stepping forward to run,” says current State Democratic Chair Martha Laning. That wasn’t her plan, she says, but is a direct result of the tremendous enthusiasm among Democrats about this year’s election.

But is it possible to have too much of a good thing? She’s happy to see the democratic process play out and have the people choose the primary winner, Laning insists. So get ready for a very long ballot. In some wards there may be more candidates than voters.

The sheer size of the Democratic primary has led the majority of top Democratic donors to sit out the election so far, the State Journal has reported. The result could be an old fashioned primary heavy on retail politics and shoe leather, one donor suggested.

So it’s back to the future. Power to the people. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Except that it’s hard for any of the flowers to stand out. Campaign forums and events “are getting covered, which is great,” as Christine Welcher, campaign manager for candidate Michael McCabe noted. “However, individual candidates aren’t getting much attention.”

Inevitably, in their frustration to get noticed, candidates could go negative. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has already denigrated State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, saying he has “peaked” as a candidate. Yes, Evers has been around a while, but he’s a spring chicken compared to Soglin, who was first elected to office in 1968. Earth to Paul, that was 50 years ago.

But Laning notes the candidate forums have been very positive so far. “One of the things I’ve heard is the candidates all seem like good friends.”

Laning does say she expects the field to be pared down somewhat by June. So maybe the field will be down to less than 10 candidates. But that still could mean the winner gets less than 20 percent of the primary vote. And then has just 12 weeks to sell his/her candidacy against Walker, who is likely to have a $30 million campaign chest.

That will be quite a challenge, said Tom Steyer, a hedge fund billionaire who is backing Democratic candidates in numerous states. As he told the State Journal: “That’s going to be tough… because it doesn’t give whoever wins the primary much time to pivot and raise money and build an operation.”

It is called the Democratic Party, but is it possible this year’s campaign has a little too much democracy?

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Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

31 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: The Whacko Primary for Governor”

  1. PMD says:

    Good piece. This is why, as vulnerable as he may be, I don’t see Walker losing. Also makes one wonder what the state Democratic party was doing after the 2014 election. Were they grooming candidates? Crafting a 2018 plan? Sure looks like they did nothing.

  2. Terry says:

    I might have to throw my hat in the ring. I could run the state better with my butt cheeks than Career Politician Scott Walker. I have never even voted Democrat but I will this year!

    Dump Walker
    Legalize cannabis

  3. Adam says:


    Let’s talk about DNC groomed candiates for a minute. Mary Burke- lost. Hillary Clinton- lost. Nope I’ll take a primary where the voters get to choose their candidate any day.

  4. Bruce Hall says:

    Whether local, state, or federal elections, the party out of power has to go through a winnowing process unless there is a clear leaders. Just look at the last election for president. The Republicans chewed each other up while Hillary floated along. Now the outcome was unexpected, but the process for the out-of-power party wasn’t.

  5. Bill Werner says:

    Several of the declared candidates have carefully developed positions and meaningful political experience. There is geographic diversity among them and that could be significant for a Democratic victory. Perhaps we should pay less attention to the obvious non-starters and begin to evaluate the serious candidates.

  6. fightingbobfan says:

    The pyrraha are smelling blood in the water.

    For once, people will not be fooled by Walker’s magical thinking when it comes to economics and his signature FoxConn project is laying an ostrich egg.

  7. PMD says:

    Isn’t the party’s role to you know field candidates and develop strategy and prepare for big statewide elections? I’m not saying they have a great track record, but the state Democratic party does seem pretty dysfunctional and ineffective. Sure the primary voters will get their say and then Walker will win by 3-5 points.

  8. Joe says:

    The more the merrier. Everyone of these candidates is speaking about the terrible policies of Scott Walker. That in itself is a good thing. Scott Walker does not govern in the best interests of its citizens. He governs for what is best for him. He has destroyed this state.

  9. Terry says:

    @PMD, Nationally democrats finally see that that Wisconsin can’t be taken for granted or ignored anymore after Hillary no showed here and Trump won the state, something I predicted 6 months before the election. This is Career Politician Scott Walker’s 15th election. He has been in office mooching off taxpayers for 28 straight years now and republicans have, as usual tons and tons of corporate cash and even more greasy Dark Money but now democrats are finally going to start fight fire with fire, fire being money, and like we saw with Dallet’s crushing win over Walker’s hand picked candidate, a lot of out of state money as well as political strategists will finally start to come in on the democrat’s side. See Holder, Steyer etc…Nationally, democrats know they can’t ignore Wisconsin anymore. As for who democrats pick, meh, I like the ones that support ending prohibition and that means all of them. I am tired of sitting on the couch commentng on UM. My land is lying fallow and my tractor sits idle. I’d much rather be out farming, running a business, employeeing people and making money but Career Politician Scott Walker and republican’s so called “small limited gpvernment” is standing right in the way of my continued prosperity. Thus I’d vote for a ham sandwich over the charlatan Scott Walker.

    Dump Walker
    Legalize cannabis

  10. Eric J. says:

    Walker’s time is up.
    -Time for someone new to root out all of that ” WASTE , FRAUD & CORRUPTION ” in government.

  11. LenaTaylorNeedsToResign says:

    I’m glad Mayor Soglin is coming out in a recent interview and flat-out saying that he wants to raise 1.) Income taxes, 2.) Gas taxes, and 3.) Remove any restrictions on how high property taxes can go to fund education (i.e. teacher’s salaries and benefits).

    At least he’s honest . We all may be broke from paying skyrocketing taxes again, but at least we’ll get to smoke up a bowl!!

  12. Terry says:

    @DonaldTrumpNeedsToResign, Newsflash!!
    Anyone that wants to “smoke up a bowl” already is! The billion dollar black market thrives in Wisconsin, decade after decade!

    Happy 4/20 tomorrow Wisconsin! One Love!

    Dump Walker 2018
    Legalize cannabis!

  13. Troll says:

    Free the locks on Starbucks Uni Sex bathrooms. End Hate.

  14. Terry says:

    I prefer the free market to the black market. Does that make me a Marxist in the state formerly known as Wisconsin now known as Walker’s Wississippi?

  15. Troll says:

    Ideas for political web adds. Have one of the many white males running for Governor cosmetically become African American for a day so he can sympathize with race. Have one of the many white males running for Governor simulate breast feeding so he nurture the women’s vote. Have one of the many white males running for Governor live in a slum lords house on the Southside. Have one of the many white males running for Governor DJ a radio station that no one listens to….

  16. Terry says:

    …OR we could just dump all the misogynistic, racist, homophobic, Nazi sympathizing, crypto-fascist appeasing and enabling, Liberty and Freedom trampling, sycophantic Big Government mooching, Corporate Trump Toady boot lickin’ wrinkly old salad faced, zombie eyed granny starving, old white male Republicans instead!
    I strongly recommend the latter!

    Dump Walker 2018!

  17. 2fs says:

    And how many Republican candidates for President were there in the early primaries? And that party’s candidate (ugh) still won.

  18. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    The Wisconsin Dem Party recognized that party bosses putting their thumbs on the scale failed in 2010 with Barrett, 2014 with Burke and 2016 with Clinton, and so they’re staying out almost to a fault this time. I think so many people have gotten in because they recognize that anyone that comes out of the primary has at least a 50-50 shot (likely more) to beat a flailing, desperate Walker in what is shaping up as a pro-Dem year.

    I think overall that’s been a good thing, as it doesn’t allow the Walker/WisGOP slime machine to focus in on anyone (and look foolish with the spotlight shining on them), it’s forced candidates to come out and meet the voters, and a few candidates will rise to the top for the Dems over the next 3 1/2 months. If we had more polls out, we might eveb be seeing that already, but for some reason media lets Charles Franklin do all the public polling work for them, even if the Bradley/Marquette Poll has some flaws of its own.

    But I think that State Journal story about how no one has a clear money/media advantage is what kicked off this week’s silliness. And now it’s causing a meme of “Dem Primary is turning into a clown car.” I like Mayor Barrett, think he’s done well despite the many handcuffs the GOPs put on his City, and think the guy would have been a great governor who truly had the state’s best interests in mind. But HIS TIME HAS PASSED, and he needs to recognize that he has zero chance or backing outside of a handful of Milwaukee consultants. He needs to go away.

    Likewise, Soglin isn’t even liked here in Madison except among a few hippie Boomers. Gronik is Burke 2.0, and he;d be smarter to be a dark-money force like Abele. Roys is a one-note candidate that was at 0% before she breastfed her baby in a video. I’m convinced/hoping Crute is doing a nice troll job with his “candidacy.” With the next fundraising reports, we need to start seeing people make some hard choices, and some smart ones should save their powder for later.

    I’m confident it’ll take shape and whoever wins the primary will immediately have a lot of money pouring in to get Walker out of office (48% of the state despise Walker, and more are sick of the self-centered, amoral sleaze). But the media is getting antsy from the lack of traditional campaigning and money-spilling, and it’s time for Dems to take back control of the narrative around their own primary. If that means the party steps in and does formal events that get these people out in public. If that means they have to do a 2016 GOP-style “adult debate” and “kiddies table”, and give the hint to some of the joke/vanity candidates, so be it.

  19. Troll says:

    2fs…last I looked the Democratic party, like the Starbucks brand, preaches group diversity in sex, and race. Yet the Democratic party like Starbuck’s beliefs are a fake creamy latte. End white male capitalistic dominance.

  20. Terry says:

    @Nazi Troll, Maybe so, but they aren’t the party of misogynists, racists, homophobes, Nazi sympathizers, authoritarian crypto-fascist appeasers and enablers, Liberty and Freedom tramplers, sycophantic lifelong Big Government moochers, Corporate Trump Toady boot lickers, wrinkly old salad faced zombie eyed granny starvers and old white males like republicans are! And THAT is all that matters.

    Dump Walker 2018

  21. Troll says:

    Terry, the UW system does not teach this. The left in the Soviet Union wiped about 20-80 million individuals that disagreed with their brand of fairness. Possibly, 100 million individuals under Mao disagreed with the Left on fairness and lost their lives as well. The top 5 percent in this country provide about 60-70 percent of all federal income taxes. Yet, we have the Terry’s of the world that hunt the golden goose, imprison it, strangled it and then were left with a country of true equality. Kill the individual.

  22. old baldy says:

    I would like to see the D candidate be from somewhere besides Madison or Milwaukee. Wachs or Vinehout would be great candidates, are smart, experienced and walker would not be able to pin the disingenuous “Madison/Milwaukee elite” tag on them.

  23. Terry says:

    I am a life long Librertarian and entrepreneur moron! Far, far removed from your evil “socialist bogeyman” moron. In reality it is YOU and republicans that are ushering in the very nightmare authoritarianism you purport to fear. Hey Troll! Hey republicans! STOP enabling and appeasing Trump’s crypto-fascism and authoritarianism. I am no democrat and no lefty. I am an AMERICAN who has studied history and I am simply horrified by Trump and republicans radical turn towards authoritarianism!

    Dump Trump!
    Dump Walker!

  24. Bruce Thompson says:

    Wisconsin’s Democratic primary is developing into a strong argument for ranked order voting in which the voters rank all the candidates. If no one gets a majority, the votes for the candidate with the least support are redistributed to the others. This continues until someone gets a majority.

    Today, there is the danger that the winner might have only 15-20% support from Democratic voters.

  25. John says:

    Some of these candidates will have to drop out. How they determine that is the quesiton. Or someone really has to step up and distinguish themselfves.

  26. Outstater says:

    So many good choices! from watered down socialism to neo-Hippie intersectional constructs! And I’m sure folks in Rhinelander, Eau Claire, Monroe, etc are deeply impressed by the elegantly concieved Trolley. Perhaps they can run a track directly to one of the City’s Recycling centers. If it ever runs. Maybe they can push it there…

  27. Bruce Hall says:

    @BruceThompson… agree. It works both ways. In Oakland, CA, “Across the Bay Bridge in Oakland in the same year, Jean Quan was elected as the city’s first woman mayor in a 10-candidate race. Quan polled a distant second in the first tally but pulled ahead of the initial leader when she got a lot of votes from the third-place candidate, who was also a progressive.”

    While here in Michigan, two conservatives who were not part of a ranked order scheme came in 2nd and 3rd to moderate Rick Snyder despite having many more combined votes than Snyder.

    One of the problems noted about this approach is “voter exhaustion” which means in a primary for many positions with many candidates a lot of voters simply ignore the ranking scheme and cast a vote for the person they want which defeats the ranking process.

  28. Troll says:

    Terry, I simply do not believe your a life long entrepreneur. In the late 1970’s , 1980’s government Democrats included use to help small businesses flourish. What happened? What happened to Democrats that use to be for the private sector, blue collar workers. A true entrepreneur would realize that small business cannot flourish under the weight of government regulations that have developed over the last generation. Your instincts are to call me a Nazi. You sir, are a useful idiot. Sellout.

  29. MKE Kid says:

    How is one supposed to choose from the vast pool on Dem candidates? Could we please have a channel 10 &/or 36 debate(s) amongst the innumerable candidates? I’m looking at the Dem candidates online and really do not see anything standing out.
    And PUHLEEZ, no Barrett. He’s found his cozy niche in MKE and it’s obvious he doesn’t want to do anything than be mayor. He’s comfy and likes his life. I still find it weird that him and career politician Fast Eddy Flynn were cozy bedmates for so long as suspicious, to say the least.
    I’ve been in the mayor’s office before Barrett’s reign and that late afternoon sunlight on the wood paneling is very nap inducing, which Barrett always appears to have just woken up from.
    I still like Vinehout, but anybody that doesn’t wear a seatbelt on the freeway during a snowstorm…well…that “reason” for her dropping out always sounded…um…less than honest.

  30. roz says:

    so, this is way after this story—4/23 and look at the front page and the last page of the js. do we need all this print to tell us walker is a little nervous. where does js stand. looks to me like a lot free advertising for walker; js is right there helping hin ‘pump up his base’. we are grown ups and should be able to pick a candidate that we think will do the best job for the state and if you can’t tell, that doesn’t mean walker.

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