Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More Bad News for the Revenue Amendment?

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a story today about the mayoral race taking place this year in Waukesha. The two candidates appeared yesterday in a debate put together by conservative talk radio host Jeff Wagner.

One of the topics discussed was the revenue restrictions amendment proposed by some of the more conservative Wisconsin state Republican legislators. One of the candidates, Larry Nelson, spoke out against the amendment, explaining that stronger local government control is a better way to handle fiscal policy.

The other mayoral contender is the current state Assembly representative from Waukesha, Ann Nitschke. In the debate Nitschke claimed she spoke to people in her district who feel that local control hasn't worked. This is an interesting claim considering local governments in Wisconsin haven't had a lot of fiscal control over the past decade-plus.

Also, it appears all of those people Nitschke spoke to in her district didn't make it to the debate. As the JS explained: "The debate audience either was heavily in favor of Nelson beforehand or was swayed by his oratory because he repeatedly received enthusiastic applause."

This is eye-opening for a couple reasons. One, Nelson has ties to the Democratic Party while Nitschke is a Republican. Two, this is the conservative stronghold of Waukesha!

First the public hearing on the revenue restrictions amendment located in conservative Pewaukee has opponents outnumbering supporters 8 to 1, and now the mayoral contest in Waukesha appears to be favoring the anti-amendment candidate.

To me this isn't a case of the Waukesha area turning liberal (although that would be nice)--it's a demonstration of how this amendment is out of touch with a good portion of the conservative base in this state. While there are a number of very vocal proponents through extreme groups like Citizens for Responsible Government, it appears a good percentage of the GOP base believes too much in the traditionally conservative ideal of local control to support writing fiscal policy into the state constitution.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just two things. First the debate was put together by the Waukesha Chamber of Commerce and not Jeff Wagner; he was just the moderator.

Second, hearings (and forums) usually turn out vastly different than elections by my observation. We'll see how the mayor's election turns out.

March 07, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

My mistake on the Wagner comment. Thanks for clarifying.

I think you're right that debates certainly don't dictate election results--just look at the 2004 presidential contest.

But I do think the fact that Nelson can even strongly compete in Waukesha while being openly opposed to the revenue restrictions amendment says something about the amendment's lack of traction with a good number of GOP voters. Or maybe more directly it says something about how much those voters value local government control, which is a traditionally conservative ideal that would be squashed even further under the amendment.

March 07, 2006  

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