4.29.2010

A few words on the Walker - Neumann race

I was listening to Charlie Sykes this morning and his interview with gubernatorial candidate Mark Neumann. The race has certainly gotten a little heated over the last couple of weeks, but I think everyone needs to take a deep breath and calm down.

First, let's go back to the "rumor" that was allegedly spread as a smear by Neumann's campaign. By the looks of it - and I'm going off of the reporting of Dan Bice in the Journal Sentinel - it was a stupid move by a young staffer. Apparently two individuals contacted the campaign and urged Mr. Neumann to run for Senate against Feingold and save the party from a tough and/or expensive primary. The staffer - either in an effort to be funny or a smart-ass - responded with this:
"We are increasingly hearing a rumor that because of Mark's recent and continued insurgence in the polls, and the mass defection of his donors to the Neumann campaign, Scott Walker is going to switch to the Lt. Governor ticket and support Mark Neumann for Governor. Since Mark has limited himself to two-terms, Walker will naturally run for the governorship in 2018."
Bad move? Yes. A vicious rumor? No. Given that this is in response to requests of his chosen candidate to drop out of the race, it seems pretty tame. Again, not smart, but not mean-spirited.

Let's fast forward now to the current brouhaha. Apparently, Neumann's campaign has been calling delegates to the state convention with a poll about their intentions to endorse a candidate in the race for governor. Walker's team, bloggers and radio personalities are calling this a "push poll." Based on the script the Neumann camp released then the term has lost all meaning. A push poll is not "what if polls showed our guy is just as strong as your guy?" A push poll is "what if you found out your guy beat his wife/dog/etc?" A push poll releases some scandalous or unreported piece of bad news that will reflect negatively on the other candidate. This is not it.

And the Walker team should know better. They don't need to look like they are scared of Mark Neumann. I don't know anyone who is seriously considering opposing Scott Walker anyway. He's destroying Neumann in every straw poll and is loved by the vast majority of the party faithful - sorry Mark, I just don't quite buy the polls. Getting ticked off because of this is crazy and looks petty. Okay, maybe some volunteers didn't say who paid for the calls, or said RPW did. If that's the case let the GAB look into it and let the media handle it. Volunteers screw up sometimes, that doesn't necessarily point to a concerted effort to deceive the public. We don't need to be looking like we're having a bloodbath if we want to win in November.

Which brings me to the final bit of drama on this. There are some rumors out there that Mark Neumann will run as an independent if he loses the primary and he has even told a member of our congressional delegation as much. This rumor has been repeated by one of Walker's campaign managers, Keith Gilkes, and is being offered as proof of Neumann's duplicity and willingness to win at all costs.

Neumann was on Charlie Sykes' show this morning and I don't think he could have been any more clear that he was running only as a Republican. If anything I think Charlie was a little over the top in asking him every possible way if he would consider an independent run. Have we really gotten so bad that we can't take people at their word?

I like Scott Walker. I think he's done a great job in Milwaukee County and he'll be a great governor. I support him and will volunteer and vote for him. That said, some of his supporters need to calm down and start acting like adults. Not everyone loves Scott. Some people prefer a different candidate. That happens, but acting like every little thing the Neumann campaign does is some nefarious plot is not helping. It turns people off and gives the impression that Scott is entitled to the job and cannot be questioned.

Neumann's campaign needs to tighten up it's message and make sure their volunteers and staff aren't embarrassing the candidate every two minutes.

Bottom line is that both men are qualified to be governor. Like I said, Walker is my choice, but let's not get personal here. Let's debate the issues and their visions for Wisconsin's future. That's good and healthy for a party. What is happening right now is petty and we need it to stop.