Thursday, February 23, 2006

Walker Trying Desperately to be Noticed

The polls show Scott Walker doing unfavorably in relation to both Mark Green and Jim Doyle statewide in Wisconsin. The cash-on-hand campaign finance numbers show Walker (here) considerably behind both Green (here) and Doyle (here) in funds.

And two recent proposals by Walker show desperation.

The first of these proposals, which came two days ago, was Walker's ethics reform package. Part of the package included setting term limits on all state-elected officials and moving to a part-time state legislature. Even Brian Fraley, a big fan of Walker, doesn't like the term limit idea, claiming it would "empower staffers who are not accountable to the electorate." And as Xoff points out, other Republicans who have run for state office on the term limit idea have quickly changed their minds once elected (the advantages of incumbency, apparently, are too tempting to resist).

As for the part-time legislature, which Fraley called "pointless," it's an interesting idea coming from someone who has spent his entire career as a full-time politician (including as a state legislator). Besides, the point is Walker isn't serious about the proposal--to be sure, there's absolutely no way his own party, which currently controls both houses of the state legislature, would go along with it. And there isn't exactly overwhelming evidence it's necessary.

But seriousness and basing the proposal on actual evidence isn't what Walker is going for with these proposals, as the second one illustrates.

The second proposal is to dismantle the UW System. Now this wasn't exactly a formal proposal by Walker, but he did mention it in a debate with Mark Green at Charlie Syke's expose, "Insight 2006," which took place in Milwaukee yesterday. If there ever was a knee-jerk proposal presented in a debate, it was probably this one (although "Need some wood?" from the second 2004 presidential debate is still the most precious). Taking the word of conservative blogger Owen from Boots and Sabers who was in attendance, there seemed to be very little to differentiate Walker and Green in their debate at the event. So why not toss out a half-baked idea to break up the highly-regarded UW System?

At first it was all guns a-blazing for Walker, who exclaimed that it was time to dismantle the UW System "so the money goes into the classroom instead of some of those fools who are running the system." A bit later in the debate, when he was actually questioned on the seemingly spur-of-the-moment policy idea, Walker backed off, claiming he wasn't proposing to actually break up the UW System, but only to "study" the idea. So much for teaching those UW System "fools" a lesson. Maybe Walker should be the one to study proposals, if only just a little, before just throwing them out in public.

To me, these proposals show desperation on the part of Walker. In the case of the ethics reform package, there are some more reasonable ideas in the proposal--but Walker knew quite well which parts would make the headlines. From the JS yesterday: "Walker Proposes State Term Limits." The same could be said for the half-baked UW System proposal. Despite backing off on it, the JS headline from today still runs: "Walker Wants to Shake Up UW System."

Walker's hope is pretty clear. All things being equal, he won't even make it past Mark Green, let alone past Doyle. He's hoping these headlines will both differentiate him and catch the eye of some independent voters by capitalizing on major issues--political ethics and the favorite of media punching-bags lately, the UW System.

To be honest, I don't think these desperate attempts will get Walker anywhere. But it sure is fun waiting to see what policy idea will come out of his campaign next.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Walker's campaign has been foundering since the last budget go-around.

On the upside, Doyle has very high negatives!


P.S. Well written.

February 23, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Thanks for the comment, Dad.

I agree that Walker has been in trouble for awhile, but I'm not so sure the same can be said for Doyle. The GOP and conservative media have taken their shots, but I'm not sure too many hits have landed, at least for very long.

Besides, the ethics heat is just starting to get turned up on Green and Walker with the Jensen case. It looks like Jensen is willing to take anyone down in an attempt to save his own behind. I wonder how far he'll be allowed to go before the GOP tries to reign him in?

February 23, 2006  
Blogger said...

The GOP can't reign in Jensen. He's on the fence and doesn't want to go to jail. He'll do or say anything that needs to be said to avoid the big house. That being said, it's unlikely he'll be successful.

As for Walker, Doyle can hit him on a ton of different issues including Walker's use of transportation aids from Doyle that was supposed to enhance transportation. Walker turned around and cut services and raised fares and used Doyle's allocation to fill general revenues.

February 25, 2006  

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