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.
.@Paulsoglin was on-site on Friday with his campaign manager, but wasn’t out courting voters on Saturday like other #WIGov candidates. Per @briana_reilly, all delegates, alternates and guests can vote in the @wispolitics straw poll, regardless of campaign affiliation. https://t.co/h6wcBA68Q3
— Jessie Opoien (@jessieopie) June 2, 2018
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.
— Patrick Marley (@patrickdmarley) June 2, 2018
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.
There’s a clear sense among the Dem Party delegates that @keldahelenroys has moved from a second- to first-tier candidate. Her Friday speech certainly solidified that impression. Plus, Roy, 38, just stands out in the sea of older, white male candidates.
— Daniel Bice (@DanielBice) June 2, 2018
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.