Thursday, June 9, 2011

The First Round of Wisco Newspaper Editorials are Predictably Unkind to the Whole "Fake Candidates" Thing

The Journal-Sentinel:

We don't favor the recall elections, which are largely driven by union anger over a policy issue - the effort to limit collective bargaining for most public employees. Disagreeing with a legislator over policy does not justify a recall. It's a misuse of the recall option. The recall elections are a distraction from the important business at hand and a waste of time and money - lots and lots of money.

But if there must be recall elections, there should not be phony candidates and sham primaries. Let's keep it real.
The Post-Crescent:
There's nothing in election rules or state law that prohibits this. A year ago, a fake Republican candidate ran in an Assembly race against incumbent Bob Ziegelbauer of Manitowoc, who switched from a Democrat to an incumbent, and a Democratic challenger.

In fact, it's that case that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, cited as a precedent for his party's actions now.

At the time, though, it was called a "nasty, cynical ploy" by none other than the head of the state Republican Party. Apparently, nasty and cynical is OK now, as long as the political purpose is their own.

It's particularly discouraging that the party that has made such a big deal about the integrity of elections, passing a voter ID law, is turning these elections into a farce.
The Sheboygan Press:

Republican lawmakers have cried for years now that there is rampant voter fraud in Wisconsin elections. So much so that they have been pushing for a law to require people to show an ID card with their photo on it before they can vote.

And, now that they are in power, have passed just such a bill to give people confidence in the election process.

But Republicans appear willing to carry out a little election chicanery of their own by putting up fraudulent candidates in the recall elections against six Republican senators.
If elections are so sacred that we have to make sure people carry a photo ID with them when they go to vote, the people who are seeking their votes should at least be honest and respectful of the process.

And remember, too, that Republicans are cutting state aid to local governments but think nothing of forcing local taxpayers to fork over more money to pay for unnecessary primary elections.
We will say this: All of these tricks and tools are creating more problems than they've solved so far. It's not just the ideologues in Madison who are tearing each other apart. Bitter politics has become an epidemic in Wisconsin. It's hard to have a rational conversation, especially one where both sides feel like they've been heard and respected.

Political shenanigans might be an effective instrument in the short-term, but we wonder about the long-range effect on state leadership. Will we ever be able to trust these folks with the powerful tools voters gave them when they were elected?
La Crosee Tribune:

It’s one thing to run for office on principle and to fully engage in the issues, giving voters a clear choice to vote for a candidate of their choice. And it’s legitimate for candidates to switch parties when they are truly compelled to do so.

It’s another to run for office and temporarily switch parties just to cause further confusion and commotion in a process that already has enough of that with outside interest campaign spending and the entire recall turmoil.

The only thing that will be spoiled by these candidates is the public’s interest and participation in the democratic process.
Instead of using election parlor tricks, Republicans would be better suited to change the law that allows for recall elections. They have the political control — for now —  to do that.

But perhaps they’d rather publicly complain and silently keep their options open for when the recall process becomes a political tool they can use when it’s their turn.

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