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Now that we’ve had a few days to absorb the "Walker Threepeat," let’s assess the biggest winners and losers from Election Day. Others have tried such lists, but this one will be snarkier. Someone has to do it.
Scott Walker and Mary Burke gave gracious election night speeches, and we should respect anyone who gets into the arena. That means both of them. Still, someone has to tally the results of the game.
Let’s get President Obama and Republicans out of the way at the onset. Obviously, it was a Republican night, not only here but across the country. In Wisconsin, Republicans control the AG’s office, governor’s mansion, both houses of the Legislature, and arguably the state Supreme Court. Nationally, they just gained the Senate and a bunch of governor’s mansions.
Obama’s clearly the biggest loser of the night, although he’s been so checked out for so long, that it’s doubtful it will register. To some degree, the midterm election was nationalized, including ours. Discontent with Obama runs strong. There’s a sense the administration is inert where it needs to be aggressive (think ISIS) and aggressive where it should back government off (Obamacare). But Obama is hardly the only rising or fall star.
Marijuana legalization. That Libertarian guy who supports legalizing pot got almost zero votes, even though Republicans funded hysterical social media ads about it.
Trek. Some companies purposely choose to politicize their brands. Think Chick-Fil-A. Or Hobby Lobby. But those choices derive from the religious value systems of the owners. I don’t think a failed Mary Burke candidacy was ever part of Trek’s business model. It’s like using Michael Dukakis to sell tanks or John Kerry to sell windsurfing equipment. On the plus side, Mary Burke needs a job. On the down side, it doesn’t sound like that worked out so well before.
Wild turkeys. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch shoots them. The radio ads said that’s why we should vote for her (in addition, because she is a mom and loves the Packers). I ran into a deer with my car the other day and am a mom. Does that mean I can be lieutenant governor too? Maybe we can sic her on all those east side wild turkeys. I suppose I’d be ruled out because I don’t have a mini-van.
Eric Schnurer. The consultant accused of plagiarizing his own work now must write every single jobs plan from scratch, using different words. That might take a long time. There aren’t many ways you can write "job growth in the Midwest" and "invest for success."
Traditional plagiarism definitions. Just so we are all now clear: Using your own words over again is plagiarism. So that rant you made at the dinner table last night that you repeated at the bar? Plagiarism.
Chris Christie. I know people think Christie’s a big winner because he runs the Republican Governors Association, and Republican governors, including ours, did so well in this election (I mean, Massachusetts?). But everyone knows both Christie and Walker want to be president, and there’s only room for one at the top. Walker’s strong margin here boosted his presidential aspirations immensely. I suppose the Tony Soprano of politics could always whack his competitor’s kneecaps on another day. I’m talking about Christie, in case you’re checking. (Yeah, I know Walker said the other day he might not run for president for 6 years, but I don’t believe it. He also said once that he had a zero tolerance policy about mixing political and government business, so…)
Divisiveness. If you’ve won a state three times in four years, you’re not really that divisive.
Paul Ryan. There’s only room for two presidential candidates from Wisconsin in ‘16, and only one has won a governor’s seat thrice in four years in a state that went presidential blue. The other is the guy Democrats unfairly say wanted to take Medicare away from grannies and who is, nationally anyway, remembered mostly because his khakis matched Mitt Romney’s. This is unfair. Ryan is a very down-to-Earth and smart guy. But Walker just made his presidential aspirations a lot harder. House Ways and Means chairmanship is a nice consolation prize.
John Chisholm. I wonder who the Milwaukee County DA hates more, Eric O’Keefe or Michael Lutz. I’d throw Walker into that list, but I don’t want to make his wife cry.
Reince Priebus. Now he has to pick between Paul Ryan and Scott Walker for president. This is like being asked to pick a favorite kid. (actually, Reince, is a winner. After all, the RNC head from Wisconsin deserves credit for the Republican rout).
Our ears. Now we’re going to have to hear Gwen Moore holler, scream, and groan a lot more. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it. She said it, not me).
College degrees. Expect to hear the words "Harry Truman had no college degree, either" a lot if Walker runs for president. Walker should get one of those new UW flex degrees.
Mary Burke. She can always run for state legislature. Which is probably where she should have started in the first place.
Recall. You know the old adage about shooting at the king….
Mainstream media. Scooped on the October surprise.
Bill Clinton. Not sure he was the best representative against the "war on women" anyway.
Cory Nettles. Burke’s predecessor at Doyle’s Commerce Department is never going to live down that "she’s a disaster" line. Other than the fact that everyone now agrees with him.
Kenosha casino. Menominee County voted 77 percent for Burke. Walker flipped Kenosha into his column despite waffling on the casino. Sheldon Adelson is an opponent of the Hard Rock Seminole casino enterprise in Florida. Walker wants to run for president. The jobs might be unionized. The Kenosha casino is toast.
Peg Lautenschlager. Her criticism of a child molestation victim didn’t do much to get her prosecutorial doppelganger, Susan Happ, elected.
Gary Ellerman. Must not be fun to have the whole world know you were allegedly fired and put a Swastika on your Facebook page. Then again, if you’re ridiculous enough to put a Swastika on your Facebook page, you probably don’t get that.
"War on women." The war on women rhetoric just ended up alienating men. That was the biggest gender gap in this election. And it didn’t appeal to independents worried about the economy. Burke had some cred as an independent candidate – she had once supported a charter school, for example. But what happened to that?
John Doe 2. At this point, Walker could get indicted, and it would help him with conservatives.
Mike Tate. The Democratic Party head couldn’t even find someone to defeat GLENN GROTHMAN for Congress.
JB Van Hollen. The Republican attorney general stepped down after a few short years and exactly no one cared. At least we finally have a Republican attorney general, though.
Super High Turnout. Maybe people listened to Barrett and called their ex-boyfriends and enemies and urged them to vote. Yes, he really said that. Problem is they all voted for Walker.
SCOTUS. By stalling Voter ID, they spared us all from having to listen to the people who would have claimed Walker won because Voter ID "suppressed the vote." The vote couldn’t have been suppressed too much since it was the highest regular governor’s race turnout since 1950.
Tom Barrett. He didn’t lose the governor’s race a fourth time.
October Surprises. They work.
Resumes. Oh, yeah. Having one matters. People expect you to have done something if you want to be governor.
Ron Johnson. At least he actually ran the company.
America. Because she was mentioned so much in Walker’s election night speech.
Scott Walker. -It’s realistic to predict he could be president one day. He started running election night. Yeah, I know. Which one?
Brad’s band. It’s cool Brad Schimel’s in a band. Will they perform Jailhouse Rock?
Bald spots. Stay away from kitchen cabinets. It’s amazing what they do to your hair.
Talk radio. These guys think they’re kingmakers. Because they are. Look at the map of the state. Consider what’s solidly red. Now consider the reach of Milwaukee talk radio ... perfect overlay. Look at the southwestern part of the state. Yep, no talk radio. Actually, veteran Milwaukee journalist Bruce Murphy is responsible if Walker becomes president. If he hadn’t found out about the pension scandal and put it on his website…
The records of what Mary Burke did at Trek. The mysteriously unavailable records – Burke’s version of the 18-minute gap (well, not really) - can now mysteriously reappear. After all, the election’s over.
Walker’s Kid. Walker’s kid was looking coolly confident in front of the TV cameras Tuesday night. How does state Rep. Walker sound? I know, we already had one.
"Congressman Glenn Grothman." I was going to write something down, but I got distracted by that phrase.
Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch! Oh, don’t worry. That only happens if Walker becomes president. And then liberals have bigger things to fret about than why Republicans don’t care that a TV reporter with a shorter resume than Burke might become governor.
TV white guys who all look exactly the same. Since they are apparently the only people considered capable by journalism organizations of asking questions in political debates, congrats to them.
Marquette University poll. They called it. Many other polls were wildly wrong in the rest of the country.
The secret router "It’s old news!" defense. It worked for Walker. Now, anytime a politician is asked about anything controversial, they should just repeat the line over and over again: "Why, that’s old news." Imagine if Tom Ament had tried that. "Oh, that pension thing? That was approved a couple years ago, so why would you want to cover that now? Why, that’s old news!" When asked about Obamacare, Obama could say, "Why are you asking me about that? Why, that’s old news." Asked about his budget, Barrett could say, "I finished that a week ago. So, how dare you ask about it; it’s old news!"
Sean Duffy. All of a sudden people are talking about the Real World lumberjack DA turned Congressman as a future gubernatorial candidate. If Walker wins the White House, of course. Duffy is boosted by the fact he has seven kids who wear lumberjack shirts, and he converted Jim Sensenbrenner to Catholicism.
Tammy Baldwin. She shared the stage with Burke, and it’s only a matter of time before Democrats decide she’s the one they should have run for governor in the first place. Who thought it was OK to play the bench against the guy who won state two times in a row? (see earlier entry, Mike Tate).
Child molesters in Jefferson County seeking plea deals. Susan Happ is still DA.
Conservative wing of the state Supreme Court. The future of the White House, literally, might sit in their hands. It’s up to them to decide whether to quash that John Doe once and for all involving a group that helped get them elected or tried to get them defeated (depending on which justice you’re talking about).
Eric O’Keefe. The Club for Growth honcho mastered the PR axiom of "the best defense is a good offense." His aggressive PR neutralized the potential John Doe damage for Walker in the campaign by fueling the "it’s a witchhunt" defense.
Jessica McBride spent a decade as an investigative, crime, and general assignment reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and is a former City Hall reporter/current columnist for the Waukesha Freeman.
She is the recipient of national and state journalism awards in topics that include short feature writing, investigative journalism, spot news reporting, magazine writing, blogging, web journalism, column writing, and background/interpretive reporting. McBride, a senior journalism lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has taught journalism courses since 2000.
Her journalistic and opinion work has also appeared in broadcast, newspaper, magazine, and online formats, including Patch.com, Milwaukee Magazine, Wisconsin Public Radio, El Conquistador Latino newspaper, Investigation Discovery Channel, History Channel, WMCS 1290 AM, WTMJ 620 AM, and Wispolitics.com. She is the recipient of the 2008 UWM Alumni Foundation teaching excellence award for academic staff for her work in media diversity and innovative media formats and is the co-founder of Media Milwaukee.com, the UWM journalism department's award-winning online news site. McBride comes from a long-time Milwaukee journalism family. Her grandparents, Raymond and Marian McBride, were reporters for the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel.
Her opinions reflect her own not the institution where she works.