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Monday, June 16, 2014

Filing Day, 2014



By Bill Kraus


June 2 was Filing Day for 2014 legislative candidates, and a lot of things were settled.

Sixteen Republicans and 16 Democrats were elected to the Assembly as were two senators, maybe three.

None of these people will have to campaign for themselves or answer any embarrassing questions.

The same can be said for the six candidates who have no major party opposition in the primary and whose coronation will have to be delayed until August when their third-party opponents will be dispatched.

There are also going to be seven Assembly candidates facing intra-party opposition in August. Five of these will result in an unopposed Republican on the November ballot.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pre-division



By Bill Kraus


At a time when Craig Gilbert’s masterful and depressing series “Color Us Divided” was appearing I attended a visitation where I could bid a fond, admiring farewell to Pat Lucey.

Almost simultaneously I got a copy of a letter that Mel Laird wrote to the Director of the Fogarty International Center about his long (and long ago) partnership with his friend, colleague, and collaborator on health care and research John Fogarty (D-Rhode Island).

Pat Lucey was, among other things, the most self-effacing politician I ever met, and I have met a lot of politicians.

I was chair of the 1966 Knowles for Governor campaign against Pat which Warren Knowles won.

We got over that.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bluer and redder than ever



By Bill Kraus


Craig Gilbert’s brilliant analysis of how Wisconsin votes (it's the first of three chapters in the May 4 edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ) is not a death sentence for redistricting reform, but does warn us of the limitations of this still worthy effort.

It also raises some questions and conundrums.

It is obvious, and has been for a long time, that we tend to cluster and that there is more to this clustering than geography. It is racial, with Milwaukee being the most dramatic example. It is economic, with whole counties in and around Milwaukee and suburbs everywhere generally being examples. It is hereditary, with ethnic roots in places like Portage County and other areas that are creatures of history and long ago immigrations. It is more and more political.

The political clustering is exacerbated by the gerrymandering and vote packing that majority party incumbents can be expected to permanize and expand until and unless the map making responsibility on which redistricting is based is put in the hands of the dispassionate and disinterested. Before 2021 one hopes.

The conundrum that remains and that is puzzling is that the predictability and party loyalty is intensifying in an era when the parties themselves are less important than they were in history, excluding George Washington’s first term when they didn’t exist.