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For those looking for familiarity on the upcoming Sept. 14 primary ballot, TV stars Ron Johnson, Tom Barrett, Russ Feingold, Mark Neumann and Scott Walker can easily be found, but there are some other names at the polling booth that are as important, just ask them.
For instance there's Scott Paterick, who sits firmly in third place among the GOP hopefuls for governor. The financial management company executive from Wisconsin Rapids' claim to campaign fame is having his own Web site, but that's about it.
Paterick takes the usual approach of a campaign that's going nowhere -- touting his independence from special interest money, since he has none.
Tim John is the Democratic version of Paterick. He's on the Dem side of the ballot. His campaign has done well in getting some media attention in these parts. One nugget of knowledge from John is that he is the great grandson of Miller Brewing empire builder Fred Miller and owns Blue Mound Graphics, which has nothing to do with beer.
And, believe it or not, there are a bevy of pols wanting to play second fiddle in the Capitol and grab that brass ring known as lieutenant governor. It's a cush job since there are no duties at all, but that you get to be governor if the top dog goes down, is out of town or gets another job. To say the job is unheralded would be a stretch because there is nothing to get heralded for.
After all, when's the last time we heard from Barbara Lawton?
Republicans are fielding five candidates for the shadow governor's post, but two are likely the most serious.
On the GOP end, Bob Lorge climbs out of his Bear Creek law office for another statewide bid, having gotten trounced by Herb Kohl in the 2006 Senate showdown. The conservative media darling for this post is a media darling herself, Rebecca Kleefisch, formerly of Channel 12 and now Charlie Sykes' TV show. The Waukesha County resident recently got some free camera news time for holding a press conference calling a new train shed for Milwaukee Amtrak station a "garage mahal."
The Democrats have ponied up four for the office, including Milwaukee's own state Sen. Spencer Coggs, who doesn't have to give up his seat to run. Coggs has a bunch of union support but will knock heads with Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson, who actually had to give up his job to run. Nelson is more the player than Coggs, despite Coggs being at the state Capitol for time immemorial. Nelson will be calling in his chits for helping other candidates campaign around the state, which is one of the jobs of majority leader, so he's got the advantage outside the city limits.
Nelson will likely be replaced by none other than Mert Summers, a much more down to earth name than Nelson. Another Democrat, Madison's Henry Sanders, Jr., is getting ink in the state Capitol press, but little beyond that.
One surprising note is that the Green Party, which has ballot status but is fielding no statewide candidates despite a concerted push to have some Green to vote for in the Secretary of State contest. That has been the home of Dem Doug LaFollette for the past three decades at least.
There are also two Democrats trying to unseat state Treasurer Dawn Marie Sass, the store-clerk-turned pol who stomped to an upset win four years ago. Most people know the treasurer for the annual "unclaimed money" publication the office puts out. If people remember that, Sass should be a shoo-in.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore actually has a challenge from within her own party, but Paul Morel would be a member of the Tea Party if the Dems had one. Quite the fiscal and social conservative is the man from 545 E. Wells St. #403. He deserves credit for thinking through some actual plans, including an overhauled tax policy for the rest of us.
In the Milwaukee area there are other contests that will end up sending some new faces to Madtown. Most are Republican tilts.
With state Rep. Leah Vukmir trying to head to the Senate, four GOP candidates are looking for her desk in Madison to represent parts of Elm Grove, Brookfield, Milwaukee and West Allis. And it seems to be a religious battle of the titanic churches, with two candidates proudly declaring their affiliation and affinity for the divinity of the Elmbrook mega church.
Sales and finance guru Chris Maurer and lawyer David Coon fill the collection plate at Elmbrook, while Dale Kooyenga, a Brookfield CPA ,wears his membership in the Brookfield Reformed Church on his sleeve.
Another hot race in the hinterlands pits two Waukesha County political clans against each other. Longtime Brookfield alderman and county supervisor Tom Schellinger is running against Paul Farrow, son of former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow. Schellinger has dipped his toe in several campaigns in the past.
And Dick Zipperer is running for a Brookfield state Senate seat again trucker Tim Dietrich of Sussex.
The Wisconsin primary is not open, meaning that when you pick one Republican, you're stuck having to choose from the rest of the GOP slate as well; there's no crossing over in this primary.
And that's what Dems are hoping for in the East Side's Senate district race between incumbent Jeff Plale and County Board member Chris Larson, who's trying to woo the progressives to march lock-stop in formation for his Don Quixote effort. Plale is more conservative and the progressive hope is that Plale's more conservative backers will be content to hang with the GOP side of the ballot next month.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has another token opponent from the sheriff's deputies union. Clarke's media savvy and ability to look good riding a horse while wearing a cowboy hat will once again frustrate so-called true Democrats, since Clarke is a Dem in name only and his policies -- if a sheriff can have political policies -- are more in line with the Grand Old Party.
On the Democratic front lines: State Rep. Pedro Colon has tired of Madison and early this year said he was quitting. At the time, he thought he was probably going to get a legal job with the sewage district, but that didn't materialize and he now has put his name in the hat as a judicial candidate, hoping to get the nod from Gov. Jim Doyle.
Three candidates are looking for Colon's gig, all of whom were political in the near South Side district.
Former Milwaukee Ald. Angel Sanchez is one. Sanchez used his strong family presence in the district to shock the city by unseating incumbent Ald. Jim Witkowiak, only to lose to him four years later because Sanchez was seen as largely inept and corrupt. Laura Manriquez and Jocasta Zamarripa are also on the ballot.
Venerable Milwaukee state Rep. Polly Williams is also stepping down, likely to chill in her retirement years. Three are looking for her job, including Elizabeth Coggs, she of the Coggs machine, which has run North Side politics for a half century.
Stephanie Findley, who's run for County Board in the past, has picked up labor endorsements, if that means anything. She's likely the better public servant, but faces an extremely tough task in trying to take on the Coggs legacy, which to date has four sitting pols in public office. Vegas has money on Sherman L. Hill to show in the contest.
Leon Young, another member of the Coggs family empire has a challenge for his Assembly seat. Young is best known for being the lawmaker who racks up the most in income from being in Madison all the time. Legislators get $88 a day for being in Madison to cover expenses and Young has been the leader for years in padding his wallet with the per diem. While his per diem income may lead us to believe he's the hardest working lawmaker under the Dome, he has never produced a noteworthy bill to save his life. James Dieter hopes to change that.
Long-time Dem state Rep. Peggy Krusick gets token opposition in the primary from Greenfield's Scott Dettman, who declares himself as running a research and publications firm that focuses on enhancing both the quality and efficiency of hospitals and health systems. Dettman nabbed the endorsement of the state teachers' union over Krusick, who shows a more independent streak the longer she remains in the Dome atmosphere.
In other titillating tidbits:
What's in a name? The best campaign name award goes to none other than Jimmy Boy Edming, of South Edming Road in Glen Flora, a hamlet in Price County. He's trying to top Sen. Russ Decker, who's one of the best under the dome. A close second goes to Mert Summers. In a class by himself is Dick Zipperer.
Blast from the past: Janesville's Tim Cullen has decided to get out of the private sector and head back to the Capitol. Cullen was a former Senate majority leader and one of he most wired pols in Madison. He had his eyes once set on going to Washington as a U.S. Senator, but found out quickly that Janesville is not the center of the universe when it comes to state politics. He used his Madison connections well though in the private sector becoming a lobbyist and delivering the goods for his benefactors. Cullen should win in November against another Jansevillian, Rick Richard.
And then there's Job e. Hou-Seye of Sheboygan, who's carrying on the tradition of his family name by becoming the next generation of perennial candidates. (See Edmond Hou-Seye in political annals.) He's running for Assembly under the banner of assembly "Reagan-Washington Tea Party Candidate," so there will be no confusion that he's "not white man's bitch."
Drunk with power: Remember Jeff Wood, the Up North legislator who had a bad habit of driving drunk with pot on him? He's quit the Madison gig and there's six Republicans hoping to get that job.
An avid outdoors person he regularly takes extended paddling trips in the wilderness, preferring the hinterlands of northern Canada and Alaska. After a bet with a bunch of sailors, he paddled across Lake Michigan in a canoe.
He lives in Bay View.