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Saturday, August 11, 2012


I know, I know, this is long, but it contains lots of info.  It was sent to me by a blog reader from Milwaukee.  It tells you everything you ever wanted to know about all candidates running in the Republican primary on August 14.  When I received it I thought, oh, wow, this is too much reading, but after I started reading it I didn't want to stop until the end.  I wanted to know who I was voting for next Tuesday.  I had already decided to support Neumann, and this confirmed it for me.  I encourage you to vote with knowledge and read to the end no matter who you vote for.  The winner will face Tammy Baldwin (D) in November.   

The man who wrote this is a TEA Party organizer from Milwaukee. 

"What I am about to say is going to tick some of my friends off but in the end it needs to be said because too much is at stake to remain silent. So very few of us are willing to vet the candidates instead relying on their feelings as one friend recently told me they would do. Do we not suffer enough already because of people voting for candidates on “good feelings”? So I am going to tell you my position on the WI senate race and I am going to tell a reasoned explanation as to why. Some of you won’t go beyond this sentence because you don’t want to hear something which might disturb your good feelings –I “feel” sorry for you but I will get over it as soon as my brain re-engages. For others, strap yourself in. You may not like where I stand but in the end, with me, you will never have any doubt where I stand and more importantly my reasons as to why I stand there.

All the candidates have something good to offer and they all have their negatives. This might get long for some so I am going to break it down into four parts starting with the most senior candidate member and moving down the list of four. I will attempt to be as fair and balanced (as much as humanly possible) in describing each candidate then I’ll end with an analysis of my pick. If you don’t have time for the long version you can go to the cliff notes version at the end.

The senior member of the club of four is Tommy Thompson. He is clearly known for his likability. Of the four, He also has the most political experience under his belt. As a former WI Gov., he enacted welfare reforms which became, in part, basis for the federal model enacted by past President Bill Clinton. While he trimmed welfare bloat he was also a big gov’t kind of Gov. He doubled spending while during his terms and had budget increases every year while in office, a fact often overlooked because during the boom times of his tenure, spending increases were hid by the commensurate increased tax revenues.

In 1999, as Gov. he enacted BadgerCare, a gov’t run health care safety net that has been describes as a stepping stone to the nationalized health plan known as ObamaCare and in fact Thompson has made many positive public statements and made overtures on federal run universal health care, even as far as going to the Whitehouse to meet DHHS Secretary Kathleen Siebelius on helping see implementation of nationalized health care.

Tommy is a pragmatician, that is, he knows what is necessary and expedient to maintain power first while tending to his right leaning principles second. His lack of ability to stay principle focused is best exemplified by his brute force passage of a statewide measure to create a ‘temporary’ taxing district to build Miller Stadium. Tommy sold the taxing idea to up north and out of area residents by telling them ‘they wouldn’t be stuck paying the tax so why not pass it and “stick it” to the people of the five southeast counties in the southern taxing district’ –hence the subsequent nick name “stick it to em’ Tommy” which will probably follow him as long as the ‘temporary’ taxing district still ‘sticks’ around the necks of WI taxpayers.

Tommy then traveled to D.C to become head of the US Dept of Health and Human Services where he did an admirable job. He did however make some comments as head of DHHS regarding Gov’t run universal healthcare and why it should be enacted, again hearkening back to his days of instituting government administered BadgerCare in WI. To his credit he now claims to have found religion and swears off ObamaCare as not what he had envisioned for gov’t run universal healthcare and promises to be the tipping vote to remove it as soon as elected.

After DHHS, Tommy went to work for D.C. lobbyists as a power player and made over a million dollars in short order helping special interests get their share of Washington’s (read our) power and money. This is one of his biggest weaknesses. With all the chits that were built up during his high flying lobbying days it will be very difficult to make the clear cut decisions needed to cut the bloat from the Federal budget after having worked hard to get the bloat put into it.

Also, it must be noted that as a senior member of the club of four he is indeed a senior. While this gives him a wealth of political experience to draw upon it also leaves one glaring reality. In all likelihood he is a one term Senator. I have watched him personally at speeches and while he still does give a fine speech, to the seasoned and honest observer, the more frequent slips indicate that his best days are behind him -yet he still shows some of the the fire that gave him a long lasting career.

Next is Mark Neumann, a starkly principled yet sometimes enigmatic candidate. He is both a business man and a former US Congressman. People seem to remember him as either the hero who stood up to Newt Gingrich and status quo Republican establishment while trying to cut out wasteful Gov’t spending or the villain who harshly ran against Scott Walker with abandon in a previous Gov’s race. 

As a businessman home builder, he was and is quite successful having become a millionaire. He appears to have thrived even during the downturn in the housing market, in part through innovative measures such as adapting to green building trends. This has also thrown him into controversy as he took federal grant money available to all builders willing to push energy conservation in their home products. To be fair, he did not enact the grants but only took advantage of them as any savvy home builder keeping up with trends would have done. None the less, he did accept gov’t money in some form in helping with his business success and personal enrichment.

While a freshmen, he was placed on the powerful House budget committee something unheard of for a new member. When a budget was being discussed he was asked what WI wanted added to the budget. His reply was a shock to the members. He did not want to add anything but he did have a question for Chairman Gingrich. Mark wanted to know where the money to pay for all the budgeted items was coming from. Gingrich quickly told Neumann the lay of the land and ordered him to simply vote yes on the budget without question. Mark refused to go along and created a national furor. Gingrich told Neumann his career in D.C. was over, removed him from the committee and he was told to go to his office and not to talk press or anyone till the controversy died down. True to his independent form, Neumann refused. He sent a letter to all the Congress members and challenged one and all to examine their actions and ask themselves why were sent to Washington in the first place. A group of enough freshman joined in Mark’s call for a change of business in the way Washington operated that they strong armed Gingrich into not only giving Mark his seat back on the committee but also a seat on the appropriations committee so that he indeed could see where the money was spent as well as where it was coming from –something to date that had never been done before. What was to become known as the “freshman revolution” that year produced the first balanced budget since 1969. Mark returned to private life as a businessman after his two terms were up.

He went on to run for Gov. against Scott Walker against all establishment advice and suggestions that he run for another office instead. In what ended up a bitter fight, he lost the primary to Walker. Many believed he stepped over the line in his quest for the Gov’s seat to the point of smearing the character of Walker but in the end he did turn around and support Walker in the Gov’s race.

His greatest strength and greatest weakness appear to be one in the same, He isn’t afraid of what others think or say when he is on a quest to accomplish his mission. In Washington he was willing to throw it all away in order to see true change come to the system of taxing and spending. In WI, he was willing to walk to the edge in order to try to win the Gov’s race in his quest to see this state turned around from the out of control spending days of Democrat Gov. Jim Doyle. In both cases, as well as his business life, he shows an unrepentant zeal to cut down on wasteful spending.

He is a self proclaimed ardent constitutionalist meaning he wants to keep the power in the hands of the people and keep the powers of the Gov’t bound as traditionally outlined in the U.S Constitution. He is also a very outspoken proponent of traditional marriage and right to life issues. Mark’s principled traditional stands have some saying he doesn’t bend enough to be a successful political candidate in this day and age. Other’s see that very thing as his real strength.

Next is Eric Hovde a new comer to politics. While no real track record is available to reveal Eric’s potential political path he does have a history of running a very successful hedge fund firm in the D.C. area. He started his company with borrowed money from his father while fresh out of college and for several decades has been working successfully but exclusively on the East coast. Eric has literally spent millions of his personal fortune in advertising in an attempt to define himself for the public. I’ve met him two times, once at a private small group setting where he revealed that he was about to announce his candidacy and once at the Republican convention in Green Bay in his hospitality suite. The first time he appeared very personable. I was impressed enough with his statements of belief to start a buzz going for him. I backed off as I started to learn some more about him and found myself asking more questions than getting answers. At my second meeting at the convention I had gathered some questions that needed answers. A couple of friends were ardent Hovde supporters and offered to take me into his hospitality suite to directly do just that. I met with three individuals in the Hovde suite. His campaign manager, Joe Fadness, Eric Hovde’s very lovely wife, Sharon and Eric Hovde himself (all separately)

I earnestly wanted to know how deep his roots were into WI as any potential senator would need to know who his constituents were before they could adequately represent them in Washington. I had heard that he had not been around to vote here in WI for decades and that he had just re-registered in Feb. I had also heard that he was making a pretty high flying presence, literally flying a personal private jet around the state to get acquainted gatherings ( I have seen the photos) something it seemed oddly out of touch to me. I had also heard that he had chosen to marry an East coast woman. No great sin except that it shows where his roots are as opposed to his statement at the first meeting that he “managed to get back to WI regularly” during his decades absence.

There also was information floating out there about his $500 donation to Dem. Gov Doyle. I started with questions to Joe Fadness about the Doyle contribution and opposed to what Hovde is currently saying, “I was a Madison landlord and was pressured into it by Doyle”, Joe said that it was a small donation and done as a “favor to a friend”. So, several variations are now out there about the Doyle donation money. I asked why Eric had not donated anything to the Ron Johnson campaign and was told by Fadness that “Eric does not give money to anyone who he does not meet directly with first.” So putting those two statements together, either Hovde is better acquainted with Doyle than is being told or there is something out of whack with his giving consistency in my opinion.

Second, I brought up the jet setting around WI. Joe explained that it was Democrats who were spreading that info around but did not rebut that it was done and in fact dismissed it as Hovde had to get around the state in quick order as a newcomer. 

Next, I talked to Eric’s wife, Sharon. I asked her where she was from and she tried to sidestep the question but eventually admitted that she is from “back East”. 

Lastly, I had a question about some witness’ description of an angry blow up at the 4rth Congressional district Caucus in the hallway at the Milwaukee Athletic Club . It was described by a witness as, “Hovde became unhinged “. I directly asked Eric about the incident and his eyes grew wide and his voice rose as he clearly became very agitated. The incident involved a donation that he had made to an organization, the Myelin Project, (a group that had praised Obama for overturning Bush’s ban on Federal spending for embryonic stem cell research). His voice raised and his eyes grew wide and I could clearly see that he was revisiting his anger of the event from that day at the MAC. He denied that any money given was used for stem cell research purposes. I apologized to him for bringing it up and as I did he wife deftly moved from the center of the room and made her way over to his side with a glass of water and began to gently stroke his back. I walked away knowing that although there may have been reason for his original anger at the MAC it was clear that someone who could not divest themselves of that past anger, (and the need for his wife’s calming action confirmed that) clearly had issues when it comes to running for political office. 

One other point worth mentioning, I watched all four Senate candidates give speeches at the Presidential Candidate invitational dinner at the Italian Community Center. I was seated at a table with Hovde supporters. I watched him as he proceeded to make a very freshman mistake. He painted the picture of our country in trouble (which it truly is) but he kept painting the picture darker and darker and then finished without providing any hope or a real plan for a solution. Everyone of the other three candidates provided some form of hope and relief in their speech. I mentioned it to the Hovde supporting friends and they agreed he would need to make changes. A small beginners mistake yet not unimportant in light of the gravity of this Senate race and you don’t get do-overs on the national stage.

Hovde has a successful career in business going for him. He has partaken in TARP money either knowingly or unknowingly through purchases of banks that were under TARP directives. We may never know for sure whether he was cognizant that the financial institutions he was purchasing had accepted Federal funds but any sharp businessman would have researched that info before a purchase. His political outsider theme is tainted by the fact that he was part of the Washington DC business and political insider club for decades. He is accused of being an outsider in the Ron Johnson mold which isn’t necessarily a bad thing except when you realize Ron Johnson was a political outsider while BEING INSIDE WI his whole working career which enabled him to understand Wisconsin’s people and culture. Eric’s political outsider tag will necessarily haunt him as he is clearly also an outsider when it comes to Wisconsin life.

Last is Jeff Fitgerald, WI Speaker and leader of the Assembly through a hellacious period. He is a leader in that he withstood the pressures around him and stood through it all. However, his record also shows that he is heavily beholden to special interest groups. His campaign is mainly funded through beer distributors. This could be explained by his loyal support of a beer bill run through the WI legislature that supported large beer companies interests while at the expense of the small craft brewers ability to get their product out for distribution around the state. This shows a clear favoritism and a lack of a principled stand.

Jeff also has shown a lack of sympathy for human life issues. While he ensured victory for a beer bill, he derailed Assembly Bill 214 that would banned sale of aborted baby parts even going to the extreme extent of redistricting the bill’s author out of his district which forced the author to uproot his family and move. He was a no show for the WI statewide Christian program “In Focus” which was scheduled for Feb. 27th of this year and leads one to question if he has something to hide when it comes to his stand on true family values.

So, where do I stand? I support Mark Neumann.

Tommy is a consummate politician but consummate politicians are why we are in the spending mess that we are in. What we need is a statesman –that is someone who looks beyond there own immediate political expediency and forward to the health and wellbeing of the future generations and our state and country. Mark has shown the ability to stop business as usual in DC at whatever personal cost to himself.

Eric is a political newcomer who is untested and left enough question marks over his actions that we cannot possible take a chance on such an important race without knowing more. And although he is being compared to newcomer Ron Johnson, Eric has not spent an entire life working in this state as Johnson has, absorbing and understanding who we cheeseheads are and what we are about. What’s worse, HE HAS spent an entire life on the East coast absorbing and understanding East coast culture -something that is very different from our own way of life and that spells disaster for true representation for us.

Jeff has had his mettle tested and although he came through it he is less than untarnished. His principles are questionable because of his ability to take big money interests as outlined above, at the expense of small business people who make up the backbone of this state and nation. Further, his inability to take a Pro-Life stand by his lack of passage of AB 214 is more than troubling, it is screaming a lack of basic support of the sanctity of human life. All this while ensuring that big beer interests were well coached and guided to final passage leaves one less than assured that he would make a great Senator.

Mark has a record to observe and judge on. He was willing to throw his entire political career away and face down the most powerful person directly above him at the time -Newt Gingrich. He not only stood on his principles but he marshaled others alongside him to form the “Freshman Revolution”. That voting block brought real reform and change to Washington while Mark was there. That is the kind of principled leadership that is desperately lacking and needed now more than ever if we are to save this great nation. The greatest knock on Neumann is that he played ‘hardball’ during the Governor’s race against Walker. In the end, after a hard fought race, he was able to let feelings go and get behind Walker’s candidacy. More importantly, WE WILL need somebody who knows how to play hardball against Tammy Baldwin. She will be extremely well funded and the one thing that we know about the Chicago political crowd (and make no mistake about it, it will be the down and dirty ‘Chicago machine’ that will be called into action for this race) THEY DO KNOW HOW TO PLAY HARDBALL!

While I applaud all the other candidates for their strengths and willingness to run, I believe that it is Mark Neumann who has the principles that made this country once the super leader of the world and who will truly represent what we all want and need at this time in our state and nation’s history, that is primarily a return to: balanced budgets, sane fiscal spending, free and open business markets, adherence to the government limiting powers of the constitution and a repeal of a disastrous (by all accounts including my personal doctor who is a lefty) government run healthcare program.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope it has been of some help to you all. May God once again graciously bless this great union of freedom minded people."

1 comment:

  1. VERY interesting and worthy of the long read. I planned to vote for Mark Neumann before and NOW am more confident in it! Thank you for posting this.