The Wisconsin Democrats’ Conventional Gamble

by Christian Schneider

The unprecedented nature of the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall has forced both election regulators and campaigns into situations where they are making decisions on the fly. But one of the weirdest quirks to surface is the fact that state Democrats are holding their convention beginning June 8 — three days after the recall election.

This could make for high comedy, depending on where you sit with regard to the recall. As I explained in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Conventions are always held before elections; they’re a chance for party leaders to fire up the true believers before they hit the polls. People wear funny hats, don stickers with names of candidates that they’ve never heard of and fight bitterly to make minuscule changes to party platforms that nobody ever reads.

But because of the weird timing of the recall election, June 8 in Appleton will be another story entirely. Democrats are pushing all their chips into the middle of the gubernatorial recall table.

If Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett wins, it will be a cheesehead Mardi Gras – a political party the likes of which the state rarely has seen. Barrett will be seen break-dancing in the lobby. U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) will be running through the hospitality rooms “making it rain” with dollar bills. Protesters will be pouring beer on themselves instead of on Republican state lawmakers.

But what if Walker were to win? What if all the millions of dollars pumped into Wisconsin from unions around the country fail to move the electorate toward the Democrats? What if people dressed in gorilla costumes, banging drums and comparing Walker to Adolf Hitler don’t translate into votes?

Then, Appleton could be the site of an unprecedented public grief counseling session. The typical lachrymose convention-goer will make dyspeptic former Gov. Jim Doyle look like Richard Simmons. Attendees all will march the trail of tears between the convention floor and the hotel bar.

The state GOP held their convention two weeks ago in Green Bay. The cheerleading for Scott Walker was nonstop; lawn signs were handed out and battle plans drawn. Democrats missed their opportunity, and will have to count on bogus “John Doe” investigation charges to drag them across the finish line.

— Christian Schneider is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and writes the Yankee Review Blog.

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