(Keywords: politics, elections, Madison, Wisconsin, the best thing republicans ever did for democrats)
I've supported US Rep. Tammy Baldwin pretty much from the gitgo. In 2000, incumbent Baldwin's seat was challenged by a popular UW Madison Professor, John Sharpless. Sharpless was the kind of conservative you kind of wish there were more of - thoughtful and reasonable. He definitely wasn't the wild-eyed religious utopian maniac that characterizes the right these days.
That 2000 election was a nailbiter. Sharpless barely lost with 49% to Baldwin's 51%. A big part of Baldwin's base had always been the UW campus and Sharpless split it.
Since 2000, the GOP seems to have written off Baldwin's seat, despite being formerly held by a Newt Gingrich robot clone, Scott Klug, and the vulnerability Sharpless's campaign exposed. This year, as in 2004, Baldwin's opponent is David Magnum. More proof that the GOP harbors no hope of recovering the lost Klug seat. In '04, Baldwin ate his lunch, winning 63% to Magnum's 37%.
Magnum's message is politically tone deaf. One thing I know about Tammy Baldwin is that she listens. Seriously, I see her everywhere. She's at street fairs and block parties, neighborhood meetings and protests. And, what I always consider a good sign in a public servant, unless she's behind a microphone, it's more likely that someone is talking to her than she's talking to someone. Magnum, on the other hand, I've never seen anywhere. He's a rightwing radio station owner and former rightwing radio host. He doesn't listen to what people think, he thinks he can tell people what to think.
Since Baldwin spends a lot of time listening, a big issue for her is health care reform. Magnum's central theme is that Baldwin hasn't managed to get health care reformed. This is an astoundingly hypocritical message from someone who's a professional fan of the GOP. If she hasn't been able to affect change, who's fault is that? It's like arguing that you should elect a republican because the democrat hasn't managed to get us out of Iraq. I'm sorry, but you'd have to be a freakin' moron to fall for it. And the amazing thing is that this is exactly the same message that got his ass kicked the last time.
His site links to articles supporting the Iraq war and Bush's illegal wiretaps. He's been critical of Baldwin's out of state fundraising. As the first openly lesbian women elected to the house, it should surprise no one that a lot of groups send her funding. And, again hypocritically, Magnum himself hasn't turned down out of state funding from religious crazies who think feminists and lesbians are keeping Jesus from coming back.
With Bush's numbers hovering around 31%, is it really a good idea to campaign on support for wiretapping and Iraq? He's an amazingly unskilled politician and campaigner.
If you're from the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee and you're reading this, please, please, please send us more candidates like David Magnum.
The guy doesn't stand a chance.