Wis. State Journal hates partisan redistricting, except when they forget.

For the last several years, the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board has made reforming redistricting a prominent part of their editorial agenda. Anytime the State Journal can find a GOP legislative candidate who claims to support non-partisan, independent redistricting, they promptly endorse them knowing full well they’ll never have the control or influence to bring any redistricting reform proposals to the floor of the legislature; the entrenched GOP leadership will always be the backstop to prevent any consideration of redistricting reform.

The State Journal apparently doesn’t mind though if the corrupt redistricting process helps elected another Republican member as it was designed to do.  They are content that the GOP redistricting can keep a district in Republican hands.

The latest State Journal endorsement in a special election for the 42nd Assembly District highlights their view on redistricting. “The oddly drawn district — which was gerrymandered by top Republicans to protect [former Rep. Keith] Ripp in what had previously been one of the most competitive seats in the state — now favors Republicans.

The State Journal endorses Republican Jon Plumber citing his support for redistricting reform, “Given that the 42nd District is shaped to favor Republicans, it’s encouraging to hear Plumer’s unequivocal support for a nonpartisan process of drawing legislative district lines following the 2020 census.”  Again, never mind that he’s safe to have these views as Speaker Robin Vos will never let Plumber be in a position to have an impactful vote on the issue.

Conversely, the only apparent reason the Democrat shouldn’t be elected is that she is too liberal for the district.  That’s right, she shouldn’t be elected because she lives in a district that Republicans gerrymanders to prevent a Democrat from winning.  That has been the precise complaint of the State Journal about   redistricting, that competitive districts have been re-drawn to allow only Republicans a chance to win.  The State Journal writes about the Democratic candidate:  “Groves Lloyd, who retired last week as a UW-Madison academic adviser, is polished and smart. She shares Plumer’s priorities of fixing roads and adopting fair maps. But her politics lean too far left for this district.”

The State Journal largely admits that these two candidates have similar priorities, even on redistricting, but since the gerrymander district is Republican then the Republican should be elected. How convenient is that?

I recognize the Democrats’ record on redistricting when they briefly controlled the legislature prior to the last redistricting is no better. But until Wisconsin legislative republicans actually start taking votes and actions towards changing the redistricting process, why does the State Journal keep giving them the benefit of the doubt.  The next census will be quickly upon us with redistricting soon to follow.  Despite the State Journal endorsements, no progress has been made towards reform.

The State Journal would be better to based their endorsements on the rest of the record of these candidates and not fool their readers into thinking that endorsing candidate like Jon Plumber is going to somehow bring about the reform they claim to want.

On the other hand, maybe it would be best if the State Journal got out of the endorsement process entirely when they end endorsements with vague, McCarthy sounding smears like they make against the Democrat claiming she “offered a vague response, for example, when asked if she is a socialist.” (I can only hope they asked Jon Plumber if he was a Russian oligarch or had the support of any.)

Like Trump, Paul Soglin should stay off Twitter.

Madison Mayor and candidate for Wisconsin Governor Paul Soglin, had as rough a showing this weekend as anyone with his political experience has probably had at a state party convention.

The embarrassment started with the straw poll of Democratic Gubernatorial candidates conducted by Wispolitics.com. Soglin, the mayor of the second largest city in the state came in dead last, earning just a single vote in the straw poll of almost 800 Democratic delegates, alternates and guests.

In a strange reaction to the straw poll results Soglin re-tweeted Capital Times state politics reporter Jessie Opoien who wrote in part that Soglin “was on-site on Friday with his campaign manager, but wasn’t out courting voters on Saturday like other #WIGov candidates,” but noted everyone at the convention could vote in the straw poll.

What Soglin didn’t seem to understand that the implication of the post in it’s full context was that he got just a single vote when he should have been able to get at least two, his own and his campaign managers.

Soglin’s intent in re-tweeting Opoien might have been to suggest that he wasn’t out trying to court votes for the straw poll. That’s often the explanation of those who do poorly in straw polls, that they’ve put their efforts into other activities that rounding up votes in meaningless straw polls. It it true that straw polls conducted at political conventions are far from any sort of fair indicator of who’s leading or going to win an election or primary. But they do usually say a lot about organization and viability.

Soglin has talked before before about the different type of campaign he is running for governor.  He’s said that “I don’t impose myself on people. I don’t go around shaking hands,” but if you aren’t going to go around and court votes at your party’s state convention, a gathering of a thousand or more activists just two and a half months before the primary, then when is the time to ask people for their vote?

A candidate with the name recognition and longevity of Soglin should be able to get a decent showing in a straw poll among political activists just by being listed on ballot. In getting that single vote (Soglin’s, his manager’s, or a random delegate if neither of the other two happened to vote) he’s moved from the top tier position he once had to the bottom tier, just as former Rep. Kelda Roys was boosted clearly into the top tier by winning the poll and garnering twice the votes of any other candidate.  That doesn’t mean she’s winning right now, but shows that she’s very viable when a fifth of the party activists at the Democratic Convention cast their votes for her.

Soglin’s reaction to the straw poll wasn’t his only time on twitter this weekend.  Earlier on Saturday in true Donald Trump fashion he went after Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Dan Bice charging he was “part of the Russian inspired effort to suppress the Soglin vote.”

Perhaps Bice was very successful and entirely responsible for keeping the Soglin supporters at the convention from casting votes in the straw poll.  I suspect though that despite Soglin’s protestations that Bice should check his grades of the speeches, the delegates and others in attendance also graded Soglin pretty low and didn’t produce even a few spontaneous voter for him.

Paul Soglin may want to be the Donald Trump candidate in terms of style in the Democratic Primary. His convention speech was variously described by reporters as “painting a grim picture of Wisconsin” and “paint[ing] a bleak picture of Wisconsin under Walker with contaminated water, deteriorating public schools, low wages and increasing geographic and racial disparities” and harkens back to many speeches of Donald Trump’s including his inaugural speech.

While it’s true Wisconsin Democrats are in full agreement with Soglin’s portrayal about how Walker has destroyed so much in their state, they are not ready to buy into a candidate who doesn’t present a positive vision as well and spends their time attacking reporters on Twitter rather than campaigning for actual votes.

Tonight when Soglin goes home he should put the phone and the Twitter feed down.

Burgers and beers at the corner tap.

Jack walked into Lawry’s just after 4:30, about the same as every day once he’d finished his bread truck delivery route.  Jack was usually the first to arrive and find his place at the end of the bar near the neon lined glass block windows.

“I’ll have ‘the best beer in all the land’ he directed Big Jim who leaned on the bar waiting for the early evening regulars.  Jack knew what he ordered wasn’t ‘the best beer in all the land’, but it was a good, reliable and inexpensive beer brewed up north, in the same place for the last 150 years.  He also still enjoyed many of the more expensive craft and microbrews that were en vogue these days, but often chose the old reliable as he had his whole life to save a few dollars to help put his daughters through college.

Big Jim slid Jack the weekly paper promoting it’s panel discussion that evening on the future of neighborhood bars.  “How come you’re not going to be up on stage tonight?  You’ve tended bar at half the places in town and been drunk at all of them a time or two? No one knows more about bars in this town than their best customer.”

Glancing though the list of panelists Jack laughed at the idea. “There are a few here who know more about how to take the soul away from a neighborhood tavern than how to tend bar at one.  At least they have a writer who’s been to places like Dot’s Tavern that have real charm still.  And you can count on a writer to have lifted a glass or two himself.  I bet he’ll be the only one there actually having a drink tonight.  I’d buy him a whiskey shot if I went.”

“Maybe I don’t have a big enough title to get on the panel, I see there’s a Vice President of something who runs everything from college cafeterias to a steak house and some asian fusion place.  But they ruined the place that used to be a neighborhood tavern, they went and threw most of the place dumpster when they gutted it and pretty much treated the customers who were regulars the same way.  All those old clocks and nicknacks that gave the place character and charm, gone.  What is a ‘bubble-up’ anyway?”

“I guess Applebee’s calls itself a ‘neighborhood bar and grill’ and I am sure they’ve got a bunch of vice presidents of such and such,”  Big Jim chuckled as he drew Jack another beer.

Jack, who’s spent the first 25 years of his adult life, tending bars and working as a bouncer before opting for the more regular schedule and teamster benefits his delivery route job afforded him, wondered how often a vice president of an eighteen location food service operation even set foot in a neighborhood tavern, much less behind the bar of one.

“Some of these guy’s who are taking over the old time neighborhood tavern’s like the Tip Top Tavern have made them into some very nice restaurants….”

“…and that’s just it,” Big Jim started to complete the sentence, “they are too nice, too pricey.  I keep my joint simple so that my regulars can come in and get their burger and beer after work every night.  Larry comes after his mail route and those two brothers who have been stopping in after their bookkeeping jobs for years. Those guys have dinner here with their pals and only spend ten or twelve bucks if they don’t stay too late, but these new places, it’s twelve just for the damn ‘burger!”

“Jim, a few guys still do it right like you.  Genna’s gets the downtown afterwork crowd who live nearby or stop on their way home and they give them a good happy hour deal to keep it cheap.  The Harmony down the street shows you can have a variety of good food that’s still affordable for working guys.  The ‘Bou and Slices…. but there aren’t many. I just hope a few of those places can make it a few more years as long as I do.”