Thursday, July 14, 2011

What a Dave Hansen Vicotry Won't Tell Us

We may be living in an age when all politics is national, but reality remains very much a local phenomenon.  The reality in Wisconsin's 30th Senate district is that Democratic incumbent Dave Hansen is likely to defeat Republican challenger David VanderLeest in Tuesday's election.

This will be the first of the actual recall elections and a Hansen victory will likely be heralded as a sign that the tide in Wisconsin is firmly behind the Democrats, and pushing against Governor Scott Walker.  All I can say to this is don't believe it.  The only thing that a Hansen victory will tell us is that the voters of the 30th don't want to be represented by VanderLeest. 

While many voters in the district appreciate VanderLeest's efforts in the Hansen recall effort, the problems in his personal life are simply too numerous, too troubling, and too recent for many voters to consider sending him to Madison.

Does this mean that Wisconsin voters approve of the fact that Hansen and his Democratic colleagues in the Senate fled to Illinois in order to block the Governor's collective bargaining bill? I doubt it.  The plural of anecdote is not data, but many people I talk to are still quite upset at what they see as this ridiculous ploy which literally shut down the legislature of this state, at least on fiscal matters.  These days, such complaints are almost always immediately followed by another about Republican John Nygren, and his failure to get on the ballot to challenge Hansen.

The WisGOP has turned grassroots anger over Hansen's flight into a $243,000 mistake. That is how much Hansen reported in cash on hand recently.  Compare that to VanderLeest's $2000 raised.  As the Recess Supervisor notes:
But what I suspect is happening here is that the Democrats, who are already winning the fundraising war, are going to try and use this race as an exclamation point to get their donors pumped for the real races next month.
Right on cue, Chris Bowers is up at Kos with a post that ends in an appeal to contribute to the Democrats in the Wisconsin recalls.  The link he provides is to ActBlue, the fundraising clearinghouse where donors from all over the country can make small contributions to elections that do not even affect them.  I can imagine Democrats from Florida to Oregon heeding the call and then watching the results come in on Tuesday.  At that distance, they will be apt to read all sorts of things into a Hansen victory that simply aren't there. 

If I could send a message to these donors it would be this:  Democrats in Wisconsin and at the national level are happy for you to misread Tuesday's results.  This confusion sustains a flood of campaign cash unleashed initially by your anger over Scott Walker's policies, but don't kid yourself.  A sizable portion of Dave Hansen's constituents approve of the Governor's policies and were infuriated when Hansen fled to Illinois.  The state GOP failed spectacularly to capitalize on this sentiment, leaving Hansen to fend off a challenge from a flawed opponent.

That's the local reality.  Too bad it will be totally eclipsed by the national politics of Tuesday's election.


Zach W. said...

Yeah, I'm still absolutely amazed that the WI GOP failed so spectacularly to field a credible candidate against Sen. Hansen.

Then again, Rep. Nygren's apathy towards collecting enough signatures to have a sizable cushion could speak to how Republicans in Madison still want to believe they have some sort of mandate that really isn't theirs anymore.

Anonymous said...

If David Vanderleest was a Democrat who opposed Scott Walker, the party of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy would be screaming about how his personal life has nothing to do with how well he would serve in office.

This 30th District resident will proudly show up at the polls on Tuesday to send Dave Hansen a message about his dereliction of duty - and whatever the result, he's done after the 2012 election in any case.

This is a classic case of choosing the lesser of two evils, and make no mistake, those 14 cowards committed an evil act.

swamper88 said...


So that's what the R's in the 30th want, a chronic scofflaw, tax delinquent abuser? Talk about dereliction of adult behavior and responsibility..

Hansen did his duty, to make sure there was enough time for all to see the Gov's proposal for what is was, bad. And we all are better off for it.

Good bye Mr. Vanderleest.

The Recess Supervisor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Recess Supervisor said...

I think VanderLeest is a terrible candidate and have said as much on my own little corner of the internets. But having been home in the Green Bay area for the last week, I have to say it's amazing to me the degree to with the Dems (the DLCC in particular) are just pounding the bejeezus out of the guy.

It'd be one thing if he was equipped to fight back - but the guy has no money and no institutional support. It's like watching a UFC fight where one guy lands a punch, climbs on top of the other guy, and starts wailing - except there's no referee here to call off the fight.

I think Hansen wins this race by 30 without breaking a sweat, but man, it's hardly a noble win. For all the Democrats who used to bitch about the stuff that Todd Rongstad did to people like Lee Meyerhofer and Sarah Waukau, you just forever surrendered the moral high ground on sleazy, character-based campaigning.

wifactcheck said...

Ok, so if Dave Hansen shouldn't take donations from people who live outside of the state, I eagerly await similar blogposts denouncing members of the WIS GOP for accepting money from out-of-state interest groups like the Club for Growth and Americans For Prosperity.

Or... is that different?