Alright, the vote was held. No one got the endorsement and a jerk-wad French Horn player from out of state who wasn’t there put his two cents in because he can’t help himself.
Good to know.
Here’s my take on things as they stand.
Winner — Jeff Fitzgerald
A couple of weeks ago, the talk was his campaign was looking for a way to bow out gracefully due to its anemic fund raising. The “win” in the final round of the endorsement vote will add some much-needed life to the campaign. Hopefully he makes the best of it.
Going in, the smart money was on Fitzgerald going out first. The turning point was his speech.
“Fitz” captured the room when he told the story of the first weekend of the Capitol Siege. There, he told the crowd his biggest sense of unease wasn’t the protesters, wasn’t the chanting, and wasn’t even the death threats. To him, it was the weekend just after the 14 state senators fled to Illinois and he let his caucus go home for that weekend knowing he had the votes on Friday to pass Act 10, but wasn’t sure they’d still be there when they came back on Monday or Tuesday.
He said something akin to “I had no idea if what was surrounding us in Madison was going to be awaiting for them back home; outside their homes, their places of business and so on. It was you who gave them the strength of their convictions. You who told them to stand firm. You who conferred to them they were doing the right thing.”
That vote was as much yours, as it was theirs.”
After that, he had the assembled crowd and the undecideds.
Christian Schneider of NRO / WPRI and I both believed during the tabulation of the 1st ballot that Fitz’s speech got him a spot in the 2nd ballot. Little did we think it would get him past Tommy in the 1st ballot and put him squarely in the driver’s seat on deciding who was driving the “Not-Tommy / Not-Neumann” car to a no endorsement vote.
Minor Winner — Tommy Thompson
This is long game, but a more viable Fitzgerald gives steam to the regular conventional wisdom of the overall race — the more non-Tommy candidates in the race, the more that helps Tommy.
It’s just a simple restatement of the race dynamic.
Push — The Endorsement Process
Giving the gaming of the system and behind-the-scenes bull of these events, you want to start saying a “Pox on All Your Houses!” to all these campaigns. But, I’m sure the state GOP isn’t complaining for the cash for its coffers all those bused in delegates and last-minute attendees.
Minor Loser - Eric Hovde
Hovde’s speech was a lackluster one which felt more like a college lecture than a convention speech. He’s new to the game, he’s got time to get re-adjusted and refocused. Overall it’s a blip on the radar and he’s got more than enough time to recover.
Plus, reality gives them the perfect way to spin what happened — After all, in 2010, the first once bounced in the state convention Lt. Governor’s vote was Rebecca Kleefisch.
Minor Lose to “Danger Ahead” — Tommy Thompson
Was yesterday just a minor bruising of the ego, or the start of the dam bursting on support of his candidacy. Time will tell.
Loser — Waukesha County GOP Chairman Don Taylor
Something tells me the “Dean of County Chairs” will have a lot of explaining to do about why he was constantly sending over 55 to 60% of Waukesha Co. delegates to Mark Neumann.
Big Loser — Mark Neumann
When you try to game the system, you game it to win. Team Neumann clearly miscalculated that going into the vote thinking they could pick off the undecideds. Fitzgerald’s speech ended that theory pretty quickly.
Also, the 2nd ballot couldn’t have turned out worse for them, as he only picked up around 200 or so more delegates than he did in the 1st ballot. This meant his support — bused in or negotiated behind the scenes — was also his ceiling. I heard some folks say Neumann’s campaign is starting to remind them of Darrow 2004, where his pleading and over-playing to the base got annoying very quick.
Add in how much the base is still peeved at him for 2010, and the margin for error is exceptionally small for Neumann.
Other Losers — Erick Erickson, the Red State Community, and Jim DeMint
When you claim openly and loudly that one guy is cheating, you damn well have the proof. Erickson’s post reeked of being a misdirection from the Neumann folks (it was, but no one would go on the record to confirm it) to say the Thompson folks were trying to game the system when they clearly were doing it themselves.
Will Erick (who I consider a friend) ever admit doing just that, or admit he was wrong? Hardly, it’s not good for business at Red State.
Finally, groups like the Club for Growth, Sen. Jim DeMint, Red State, and others out in DC have bought into a dog and pony show by Neumann’s campaign that he’s [quote] the true conservative in the race [unquote] to decide who best to rally folks against Tommy Thompson. Yesterday’s vote clearly showed they were sold a cheap bill of goods as not only did Neumann (gaming the system) beat Thompson in the endorsement vote, but Fitzgerald did as well in the 1st ballot.
If Fitzgerald plays their cards right, he make some hay trying to break up Neumann’s attempted monopoly in “non-establishment groups” in DC.