Note: the following appeared in the Thursday edition of Life, Under Construction. Learn how to subscribe by clicking the button below:Click here to become a subscriber
If you’re interested in listening to Steve Scaffidi of WTMJ-AM discussing my poor losers list, here is the link to the podcast:
Dan Kelly and Other Nonsense
I know, you’re sick of politics. Unless you’re a diehard Democrat and then you might have a hangover.
But the rest of us are definitely sick of politics for awhile. On that score, I have good news. We’re done until 2024.
No, really. I promise. Unless, of course, there’s a special election. And there will be a fight over the state budget. Donald Trump will be in court. Candidates will announce they’re running for office next year. And WISN-AM will probably continue to run Dan Kelly ads until 2025, given the campaign’s last-minute ad spending. Okay, so we’re never really done with politics.
But we’re done for now. Before we say goodbye to all that, some final thoughts on the race that was.
Let’s start with the idea that Kelly was the worst loser in the history of politics in Wisconsin. I can’t speak about politics before the 20th Century in Wisconsin, but I can assure you Kelly was not the worst loser in the modern era.
The worst losers in Wisconsin political history, in order:
- Donald Trump, 2020 (tried to steal the election)
- Hillary Clinton, 2016 (paid for a pointless recount by a different party, still hasn’t conceded)
- JoAnne Kloppenburg (declared victory early, forced a needless recount, then didn’t concede the April election until May 31)
- Dan Kelly (attacked his opponent)
- Kathleen Falk (failed candidate for attorney general, refused to concede)
- Lady who slapped Tom Barrett after he lost the Recall Election in 2012
I had a feeling Kelly was going to lose when I went to the polls on Election Day. There was no line for my ward in the city of Waukesha. Election numbers guru Joe Handrick assured me that my ward is almost 50-50, so a low turnout shouldn’t be an issue.
It turns out, it probably was an issue.
Kelly lost the city of Waukesha. To give you an idea of how that should be impossible, Justice Brian Hagedorn won 60.6% of the vote in the city in 2019, just four years ago.
Maybe, just maybe, a Waukesha judge would have made a far better candidate than Kelly and his neat tie knot.
We learned (again) on Tuesday that there are no second acts in Wisconsin politics.
Kelly attempted a comeback after losing in 2020. The voters rejected him by an even bigger margin.
Wisconsin voters prefer their politicians to go away when they lose:
- Despite his amazing popularity when he was governor, Tommy Thompson could not defeat Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
- Sen. Russ Feingold could not take back his Senate seat from Sen. Ron Johnson.
- Former state Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler lost a race for the Court, was appointed by Gov. Jim Doyle to fill a vacancy, and then lost again.
- Ed Garvey
- Former Gov. Tony Earl lost in 1986, then lost the Democratic primary for US Senate in 1988 to Sen. Herb Kohl.
- Gov. Marty Schreiber lost to Gov. Lee Sherman Dreyfus, lost to Earl in the primary in 1982, and then lost a race for mayor of Milwaukee to John Norquist.
- Tom Barrett. Exile in Luxembourg.
- Tim Michels, lost a race for state senate, a race for US Senate, and for governor.
- Mark Neumann, lost a primary for governor and for US Senate after losing a US Senate race in 1998.
Final thought: so much for an independent judiciary.
It’s bad enough that Protasiewicz wants to turn the Supreme Court into a separate legislature. At her victory party, the other liberal Supreme Court justices all showed up to celebrate the team victory. With the state Supreme Court behaving like teams, it’s not surprising that there is such rancor and partisanship.
And yes, I’m aware that two conservatives were at Kelly’s party.
So we have team A and team B, and one judge. Great job, everybody.
Well, there’s always the next election to fix things.
James Wigderson, Waukesha, April 5