Interesting screed (Yes, the jury okays the use of the word) by Kevin Stevenson, the Lincoln County GOP Chairman in the Wausau Daily Herald on ‘Why” exactly Northwoods Patriots leader Kim Simac lost to Jim Holperin in the August 16th recall election.
Stevenson pretty much narrows it down to two things, none of which related to Simac as a candidate. His reasons are:
1) RPW gave Kimac an inexperienced campaign staff:
The RPW then recommends campaign staff to Kim Simac. One would assume that it would recommend only the best and brightest in an election of this importance, and that every effort would be made to run an aggressive campaign to unseat Holperin. Wrong!
The RPW will tell you that the staff was young and had never run such a campaign before. They are right. That’s why it is not right to blame the staff alone. The Republican Party of Wisconsin took control of this campaign and deserves the lion’s share of blame.
2) The Campaign staff “hide” Simac from the press.
The staff decided that all “mainstream” media would be biased against them. Rather than simply leave it at this, they went further and insulted and demeaned the media. Now, the media should not feel special in this area, because it is hard to find anyone who did not feel this way after dealing with the staff. People-friendly this staff was not.
Most campaigns struggling with cash flow issues would welcome debates and forums with the incumbent. Again, the staff surprised everyone. Rather than accept these opportunities to reach large numbers of voters to share Kim’s background, ideas and goals, they instead chose to hide. This just intensified the claims: “You just can’t trust Kim Simac.”
For issue 1, I don’t think Stevenson is off by much, but there are a number of reasons for it. For starters, most of the experienced staff is usually going to go to incumbents. Always has, always will, and happens regardless of party.
Take for example Alberta Darling’s campaign. She insisted on getting the very team she had in 2008 back for her recall, and pretty much got it. (But no doubt she had to pay a premium to get them too.)
Secondly, most of the experienced campaign staff for Republicans State Senate from 2010 likely got jobs inside the Walker administration or any of the then 19 Republican State Senate staffs. In order to work on a campaign, they would have had to take leave of absences from their regular jobs.
Democrats probably didn’t have those problems. The mass layoff program in Madison known as “Election 2010″ had probably left more than a few of the best and brightest campaign operatives floating around, looking for work, and willing to do it at cheaper rates.
Thirdly, as I wrote here at the Wisconsin Reporter and has been mentioned else where, it seems quite likely that RPW and CERS (Committee to Elect a Republican Senate) decided playing defense in the recalls made much more sense than playing offense during them. That’s going to lead to the better campaign operatives going to where they appear to be needed, not where party chairmen might wish them to be.
Finally, it’s the Northwoods. I don’t know many folks who willingly want to go up there in the summer to run a campaign. Fish and sit out on a lake pier? Sure!
But not the former.
As for point 2, I don’t know what the hell Stevenson is thinking there. Simac was a mixed-bag at best with the media and it depended on where you put her. From the two radio interviews I did hear her on, she sounded fine on Charlie Sykes, but came off as a train wreck on Vicki McKenna in Madison.
I’ve heard much the same from others.
So why is Stevenson doing this? Well, he might be legitimately upset with RPW and CERS, he wouldn’t be the first guy, and frankly he wouldn’t be far off. (SEE: Nygren, Failure to get on Ballot)
Another might be that he’s trying to cover for his own county’s under-performance in the race itself.
According to the AP, Holperin won Lincoln County 5,994 to Simac’s 3,919. Roughly a 60 percent to 40 percent margin.
Does that make Lincoln Co. a Democratic County? Hardly, and recent elections show it.
In the Prosser — Kloppenburg race, Lincoln County was barely carried by Prosser 3,578 (50.2%) to Kloppenburg’s 3,549 (49.8%) — post recount figures.
When taking the 2010 fall state wide elections (Governor, U.S. Senate) into account, Lincoln Co. went 54.8 percent to Walker and 54.5 percent to Johnson.
So, it is possible Stevenson could also doing a bit of CYA in terms of his county’s performance last week.
There’s enough blame to go around for what happened in the recalls of Hansen and Holperin and hopefully over the next 15 months, all folks involved, from the teams at CERS, RPW, the county parties, and even activists need to assess what happened, quit pointing the fingers, and then reload in the redrawn districts for the 2012 elections.
Both state senate districts are very winnable for the GOP in 2012, and both sides of the aisle know that even after the “Summer of Recalls” in Wisconsin.