Playing the Race Card
"Vote for someone that looks like you." State Rep. Elizabeth Coggs (1)
She is seeking the Democratic nomination for State Senator for the 6th District, to succeed her cousin Spencer Coggs, who is now Milwaukee City Treasurer. If I were to take her advice in the August 14 primary, I would vote for Supervisor Michael Mayo, who looks more like me than she does.
But I suspect that her advice, given at a candidate forum at St Matthew Church, really applied to the contest for the Democratic nomination for state representative from the 10th District, which she now represents. Four women are seeking that nomination, of which only one, Rep. Sandy Pasch, is white and the other three (Millie Coby, Harriet Callier and Ieushuh Griffin) are all black. Miss Coggs is backing Millie Coby, as is State Senator Lena Taylor. Rep. Tamara Grigsby (18th), who is not seeking re-election, has endorsed Mrs. Pasch. I say that "Looks like you" is a euphemism for " of your race."
Sandy Pasch, of Whitefish Bay, now represents the 22nd Distrtict, which includes the North Shore suburbs plus River Hills and northern Glendale. The Republican redistricting plan of 2011 eliminated this district, and establsihed a new 22nd District in the Menomonee Falls area. The Pasch home in Whitefish Bay is in the new 23rd District, which includes eastern Mequon and is now represented by Republican Jim Ott. The district changes left her with three alternatives: run against Ott, run in a different district, or not run at all. She decided to run in the new 10th, which now includes Shorewood as well as the north side of Milwaukee east of N 35th Street, which has no incumbent candidate since Rep. Coggs is running for the State Senate.
Incumbents of the same party usually stick together in primaries, but both Elizabeth Coggs and Lena Taylor have made it clear that they want the 10th District to "stay black." Ironically, rival candidate Ieushuh Griffin, who previously sought the same seat in 2010 on the slogan " NOT the whiteman's bitch," (2) now says "I don't think anyone should vote for anyone on account of their skin color." (1)
My guess is that Sandy Pasch will win the primary in the 10th because she will sweep vote-rich Shorewood, and the three black women will split the Milwaukee vote. (3) But I think that Elizabeth Coggs' appeal to racial solidarity will antagonize white voters in the State Senate contest, where her advantage is legislative experience, exactly the same advantage that Pasch holds in the 10th District contest! None of the other candidates in either contest have ever served in the Legislature, although two of the State Senate candidates are county supervisors. If experience in Madison is not good enough reason to prefer Pasch over three inexperienced newcomers, neither is it sufficient reason to prefer Coggs over the other candidates for State Senator.
Since I don't like racial appeals by anyone, I am switching my support for State Senator to Supervisor Nikiya Harris.
Gerald S Glazer
(1) "Coggs' 'looks like you' talk debated" in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 29, 2012, page 6B.
(2) She told me that she did not mean the slogan (which was not permitted on the ballot) to refer to race, even though she could have replaced it with "NOBODY's bitch" or "NOT a bitch" without the racist overtones.
(3) If Wisconsin would adopt the California plan of non-partisan primaries, the top two candidates in the primary would both be on the ballot in November, in which case Pasch would probably lose to the single rermaining black candidate.