Rumor reported by the Journal Sentinel is that Assembly Majority Leader Tom “Call me Thomas” Nelson (D-Kaukauna) is going to bolt on the Assembly and run for Lt. Governor instead. Nelson’s entry not only would make him the fourth entrant in the Democratic primary for Lt. Governor; he’d also be the first entrant in that race who’s not from either the Madison or Milwaukee area.
Assembly Majority Leader Thomas Nelson (D-Kaukauna) is expected to get in the race for lieutenant governor — shaking up the race for that job and setting off a contest for the No. 2 position in the Assembly.
It also gives Republicans hope they can capture Nelson’s seat as they plot a course to win the majority in the Assembly.
Nelson did not return calls Friday and Monday, but his colleagues said Nelson started calling them a little over a week ago asking for their support in his run for lieutenant governor.
That means if Nelson runs and Democrats keep the majority after the November elections, they will have to elect a new majority leader.
Possible contenders include Assistant Majority Leader Donna Seidel (D-Wausau); Caucus Chairman Peter Barca (D-Kenosha); Rep. Pedro Colon (D-Milwaukee), who failed in his bid last year for majority leader; and Rep. Joe Parisi (D-Madison), who at the last moment dropped out of the earlier race for majority leader.
As majority leader, Nelson will be in charge of shepherding bills through floor debate as the Legislature spends two weeks wrapping up its regular session this month.
Republicans, who lost control of the 99-member Assembly in the 2008 elections, are hoping to gain four seats and take control of the house. They note that Nelson’s seat was held by a Republican, Becky Weber, before Nelson beat her in 2004.
Traditionally, the 5th Assembly District is a Republican-leaning district. Nelson won that seat in 2004 in what was one of the dirtiest campaigns for an Assembly seat I ever saw via Northeast Wisconsin television. He’s been able to hold it by working the district hard and drawing weak opponents in the two Democratic waves of 2006 and 2008.
Most with inside knowledge of the Democratic Caucus vote from earlier last year say Nelson got the Majority Leader’s spot by circumnavigating a fight between the caucus’s Milwaukee and Madison factions. Word was that the Majority Leader’s position was always going to be Pedro Colon’s until all sorts of havoc broke loose. What exactly happened is only known to the legislators in the AssDem Caucus (and of course, their staff).
The big speculation is why is Nelson doing this? Admittedly, everything I’ve seen or heard about this guy is that he’s an ego-driven, ambitious, arrogant, power-hungry prick who’d sell his own grandmother down the river for power; so the idea that the Assembly (and being number 2 there) has bored him isn’t out of the question. What better way to try to be Governor (or Congressman or Senator down the road) than be the state’s Lt. Governor for a term or two.
Another way to look at this is, as leadership, Nelson could be leaving his caucus high and dry in what could be a bloody Election Night come November. What’s stranger is early money seemed to be on Waunakee businessman Henry Saunders seemed to be the choice of Democratic activists, power brokers, and party leadership.
Let’s not forget, on appearances alone, it gives one the impression the rat is leaving a sinking ship.
Or is he suddenly worried he too could be vulnerable this fall and is because of that, he’s bolting on the Assembly?
What then, is he hearing as he does doors in his district — something he’s not shy about mentioning on Twitter.