First, I have to thank the RPW, and especially Kirsten Kukowski, for inviting me to cover the convention for a second time. I’m slowly learning how to actually be a journalist (or at least a semi-reasonable facsimilie) rather than just a pundit. I did manage to grab quick interviews with both of the major candidates for governor, Scott Walker and Mark Neumann, as well as interviews with Rep. Robin Vos and Rep. Paul Ryan.
Judging by the various floor speeches, the elected officials that were in town are learning that trying to be Dem-Lite is not a winning strategy, and that shrinking the size of government needs to be a priority. Of course, that needs to be more than “just words”.
Looking at the legislative focus, it is almost exclusively on the Legislature. In fact, there was next to no talk about the upcoming Senate race against Russ Feingold next year, or of anybody attempting to unseat Steve Kagen. The message of Saturday was that it’s the members that are sitting there this time in 2011 that will redraw all the boundaries.
That brings me to the governor’s race. I admit that I like both Walker and Neumann, and I also admit that, this go-around, I support Walker. Still, I was shocked that nearly 94% of the participants in the WisPolitics straw poll backed Walker, with Neumann getting 25 of the other 28 votes and write-ins Dave Ross, John Schiess and J.B. Van Hollen each receiving one vote.
Of note, neither the other official candidate, Appleton businessman Mark Todd (the third name on the ballot), nor Tommy Thompson (not on the ballot), received a single vote. WisPolitics interviewed several delegates in the wake of a WISN-TV report from Wednesday on Thompson’s interest of retaking his office, and found at best lukewarm support.
Somewhat related, Citizens for Responsible Government said that they were roughly at a third of their goal of 10,000 volunteer petition circulators for a recall of Gov. Jim Doyle, and that they’re currently looking at beginning circulation on June 1. With that start date, that would put the election (either a partisan recall primary if there are multiple candidates in a “recognized party”, or the recall election itself) in mid-September, with any necessary recall election in mid-October. Unlike non-partisan recalls, there is no majority requirement; the highest vote total wins.