Randy's Ramblings: Recent shenanigans aren’t a reason to abandon the open primarySome conservative bloggers are gloating over the Republican Party’s use of Wisconsin’s open primary system to play shenanigans with the upcoming state Senate recall elections.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Some conservative bloggers are gloating over the Republican Party’s use of Wisconsin’s open primary system to play shenanigans with the upcoming state Senate recall elections.
“Believe you me, the Wisconsin Republican Party is going to be able to find 400 voters per incumbent state senate district who will be willing to ruin the Democrats’ day by forcing a primary,” a blogger with the handle of Moe Lane said on the website RedState last week.
“The longer this process goes on, the harder it gets for Democrats to artificially stimulate the necessary outrage and resentment necessary for a successful recall effort,” Lane continues later in the piece.
In the unlikely event that you haven’t heard the news, Republicans have recruited candidates to circulate nomination papers as Democrats in order to require primaries ahead of the recall elections involving six Republican state senators.
The elections were set for July 12, but if the fake Democratic candidates collect the required number of signatures, the primaries would be held on the 12th. The recall elections would be moved to Aug. 9.
In the 10th Senate District, the owner of an Elmwood Hardware store who has twice run for the Wisconsin Assembly as a Republican, is circulating nomination papers to be the Democratic candidate in the recall election.
If he is successful, Isaac Weix will face Democratic-endorsed candidate Shelly Moore, an Ellsworth schoolteacher, in the primary.
Presumably, no Democrat will file as a Republican to force incumbent Sen. Sheila Harsdorf into a primary.
These are bizarre times.
I’m sure people are asking: What the heck is going on when Republicans can run as Democrats, and vice versa? I know I did.
You’re tempted to question the sanity of our open primary system — and whether we should do away with it.
That would be a mistake.
Wisconsin was a leader in the establishment of direct and open primaries.
Progressive Republican Robert M. “Fighting Bob” La Follette was the chief champion of allowing citizens, rather than party bosses, to decide who the candidates for office would be.
La Follette arrived at the 1896 state Republican convention with enough delegates pledged to him to win his party’s nomination for governor. But the night before the convention, supporters of Edward Scofield opened their wallets and bought off enough delegates to give Scofield the nomination.
From then until Wisconsinites approved the direct primary by 62 percent of the vote in 1904, Fighting Bob made the direct primary a central cause. Citizens should have the right to vote directly for party nominees rather than have them selected through a caucus and convention system controlled by wealthy railroad men, lumber barons and bankers, La Follette argued.
“If this generation will destroy the political machine, will emancipate the majority from its enslavement, will again place the destinies of this nation in the hands of its citizens, then ‘Under God, this government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth,’ ” La Follette declared in his famous “The Menace of the Machine” speech, first delivered at the University of Chicago in 1897.
It would be at our own peril to go back to the days of party bosses and their financial backers picking our candidates.
I’m not too alarmed about the latest primary mischief. The recall elections are unusual. I expect Republican candidates to return to trying to win their own party’s nomination in the future.
And if Democrats can’t defeat Isaac Weix in a primary, they wouldn’t be able to oust Harsdorf either.
Some of the GOP’s bluster is just that. The Democrats I know –- and a few independents –- would go to the polls every Tuesday for the next year if that’s what it took to boot the Senate Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker from office.
The tactic might be just what the doctor ordered for prolonging the outrage. It could be the proverbial kick at a nest of already very angry hornets.
Some of the talk is alternately comical and irritating to those who have trekked to Madison or picked up a sign locally to protest the Republicans’ anti-union budget plans. They haven’t seen any of those outside union organizers the Republican Party keeps talking about.
The fact is, Gov. Walker launched an attack on every local, county and state government worker in Wisconsin, as well as every prison guard and school and university employee.
Those people have spouses, parents, siblings and children who don’t appreciate them being vilified and blamed for economic problems that clearly have their roots elsewhere.
Many Wisconsinites also value good public schools and universities, and don’t what to see the poor, sick, disabled and elderly thrown to the wolves.
Then there are the union law enforcement officers and firefighters, and private-sector union members, who suspect the politicians will target them next.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the party leaders don’t like the numbers they’re seeing in opinion polls. Mr. Weix’s candidacy might be an act of desperation.