Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Nelson Victory Is More Bad News for Revenue Amendment

In what I think was the most significant race yesterday, Larry Nelson defeated Ann Nischke for the job of Waukesha mayor.

This victory for Nelson, who has open ties to the Democratic Party, will surely draw a lot of attention because Waukesha is in the middle of a county that serves as a conservative hub for the state. Although the race was nonpartisan on paper, the reality was far from it.

What's even more telling is that throughout the campaign Nelson adamantly opposed the amendment to restrict public revenue in the state while Nischke openly supported it. The Journal-Sentinel article on the election results this morning points to the amendment as a defining issue of the campaign, and Nelson highlighted it in his acceptance speech to supporters last night.

A big success for Nelson was his ability to frame the amendment debate as the state meddling in local affairs. This seems to have struck a major cord with the traditionally conservative residents of Waukesha, which is not surprising considering local government control has long been a mainstay of conservative thought.

And focusing on local control is more than just a campaign tactic--one read through the amendment demonstrates very clearly where the power lies. The state has the ability to determine the nature of local referendums; it has the sole power to exempt local service fees from the revenue limits; it is the sole determinant of how much funding local governments receive for state mandates, and so on.

Since both candidates in the race for Brookfield mayor oppose the amendment, this means that there continues to be not a single municipal official in conservative Waukesha County to formally support restricting public revenue in Wisconsin (the outgoing Waukesha mayor, Carol Lombardi, opposed the amendment, too).

This is pretty clearly more bad news for the revenue amendment.

UPDATE: Xoff has a good rundown of the conservative pre-election expectations that Nischke would win easily over Nelson.


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