COMMENTARY: Like Freddie Mercury, he wants it all
By Kevin Binversie
Getting 98.6 percent of what you want in life would make almost anyone happy, but you’re not Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
Van Hollen’s Department of Justice on Thursday announced it would appeal a U.S. District Court’s ruling that gave Republicans everything they wanted out of redistricting — everything but two metro Milwaukee Assembly districts. There, a panel of judges drew the final boundary.
Van Hollen seems to think he may be able to grease the score up to a perfect 100 with an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Frankly, all the attorney general may accomplish is wasting more time and taxpayer money. Candidates hoping to get on the fall ballot began circulating petitions April 15, according to the Government Accountability Board.
Maybe the attorney general can tell those candidates what to do with those petitions if the districts change again.
Polls blow up the state Senate recall
Polling from the North Carolina-based Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling, or PPP, for the liberal blog Daily Kos brought some sobering news to pro-recall forces this week.
The polling showed substantial leads for Republican candidates in three of the four state Senate seats being recalled this June. The fourth, in the 21st Senate District in the Racine area, had a narrow 48 percent to 46 percent lead for Republican state Sen. Van Wanggaard over his Democratic challenger, former state Sen. John Lehman, of Racine.
The poll’s internals offered even more surprising news for political watchers. PPP also found Gov. Scott Walker leading his major potential matchups — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett or former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk — in each of those four senate districts. Walker’s lead ranged from 7 percent in the 21st District to 19 points in the 13th District.
The Daily Kos article is a unique insight into Democratic thinking. The polls “paint a tough picture.” While “these numbers are not set in stone,” “we have a difficult task ahead of us.”
That’s the sound of recallistas in something approaching full panic. But fret not, for Daily Kos political director David Nir has a solution straight out of the locker room — victory now hinges on “getting Democrats pumped up again to take out Scott Walker and his enablers in the legislature.”
Having served on a few losing campaigns, I sincerely wish Nir luck with that approach. Because with any campaign, there comes a point when rallying the troops becomes shoveling the bull.
Badgering Bo Ryan
Congratulations to national sports talk radio pundits. Jarrod Uthoff is free at last!
Whatever side you were on, it’s clear the fight between the red-shirt freshman and University of Wisconsin-Madison men’s head basketball coach Bo Ryan over Uthoff’s desire to transfer to another school had nothing to do with the school, the coach or the player.
This was the over-the-top example countless sports commentators were waiting to pounce on to beat up on the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its numerous contradictions when it comes to amateur status, player eligibility and coaches who come and go as they please from one school to another for bigger and bigger money.
NCAA rules regarding player transfers and scholarship retention have made the organization that runs big-time college basketball into one where coaches treat players as employees. And that has led many coaches, not just Ryan, to view their athletic scholarships as contracts with non-compete clauses.
So it’s up to the NCAA to change its rules. Give student-athletes a fighting chance in a system so out of balance it’s a disgrace.
Kevin Binversie is a Wisconsin native who has been blogging on the state’s political culture for more than eight years. He has served in the George W. Bush administration from 2007-2009, worked at the Heritage Foundation and has worked on numerous Wisconsin Republican campaigns in various capacities, most recently as research director for Ron Johnson for Senate. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.