Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Opening Day

(updated January 4, 2011) With yesterday's resignation by Milwaukee County Executive (and Governor-Elect) Scott Walker, I consider today to be the official start of the 2011 spring election season. Despite other races on the ballot (notably two seats on the County Board of Supervisors made vacant due to Elizabeth Coggs and Chris Larson winning election to the State Assembly and State Senate, respectively) and signature collection being underway for most of them, the County Executive one will dominate local media, discussion, and punditry from now until the April 5th general election. I will give a quick run-down of these contests as well as the one for the State Supreme Court seat currently held by David Prosser based on who has actually announced their candidacies.

Milwaukee County Executive

At the present time, announced candidates to complete Walker's term include Acting County Executive Lee Holloway of Milwaukee, State Representative Jeff Stone of Greendale, former State Senator Jim Sullivan of Wauwatosa, Argosy Foundation CEO Chris Abele of Milwaukee, Don Wadewitz of West Allis, and Ieshuh Griffin of Milwaukee. Others might enter the race in the coming days, with 2,000 signatures due by January 11th in order to appear on the ballot for the February 15th primary.

10th Supervisory District

Announced candidates to complete the term of State Representative-Elect Elizabeth Coggs are Eyon Biddle, Priscilla Coggs-Jones (daughter of Elizabeth Coggs), Ieshuh Griffin, Cavalier Johnson, and David King. King ran unsuccessfully for the post of Secretary of State this past fall. As with the county executive's race, all signatures (200 min.) must be in by January 11th.

14th Supervisory District

Announced candidates to complete the term of State Senator-Elect Chris Larson are Gregory Dickerson and Jason Haas. Haas ran unsuccessfully against Larson for this seat in 2008. Same rules apply for this race as the 10th district.

State Supreme Court

Current State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser will face the winner of a three-way primary in the April 5th general election. Those candidates are Assistant Attorney General Joanne Kloppenburg, Martha Stephens of Shorewood, and Joel Winnig of Madison. Signatures are due by January 4th.

As more candidates enter, I'll update this and will post more comprehensive information about these races onces the filing period expire on January 11th.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Political Entitlement

As a self-described "Milwaukee Socialist" in the tradition of Victor Berger, Dan Hoan, and Frank Zeidler, I believe in good government, administrative frugality, and investment in the public good as a way of elevating the quality of life in the community. Part of this philosophy includes fair and open access to the means of enacting these policies (that is, the electoral process). What I noticed in this past fall's federal and state elections, as well as in the run-up to local elections this spring, is a disturbing increase in the notion of political entitlement amongst candidates. This concept, which I define as the belief by a person that, due to one or more factors, he/she is entitled to an easier path to gaining political office, has begun to spoil the political process in this country because it limits the number of competitive primaries (and therefore the range of opinions and options available to voters) by forcing out good prospective candidates as a result of this "entitlement". Following are a number of examples from this past fall, along with a few from the current crop of announced and prospective candidates for local positions, of this.

1) Biding one's time and being a good solider by standing down in a past election does not entitle one to their party's imprimatur the next time around.

2) The ability to blank-check a campaign does not entitle one to late entry to a race and then a free pass to the general election.

3) A wealth of experience in multiple positions in local, state, and federal government does not entitle one to bypassing a primary challenge by way of the involvement of one's state and federal parties.

4) Being hand-selected by a long-time politician and leader as their successor does not entitle one to a clear path to the general election.

5) Serving a community for over two decades in local government and being closely associated with a member of state government does not entitle one to "inherit" the seat of a long-time advocate for the downtrodden without a serious challenge.

6) Losing a past election for a position in local government does not entitle one to not have to fight for the position the next time around.

7) Being the child and grandchild of past and present local and state officials does not entitle one to be gifted a position in government because the present officeholder won election to a higher office.

8) Holding a leadership position in the legislative branch of government does not entitle one to a promotion to the executive branch.

I'd be interested in seeing if any of you can ascertain who is being referenced in these examples.