Steven Walters: Last-minute Christmas gifts for some Wisconsin politicians

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Steven Walters
Monday, December 23, 2013

With Christmas only two days away, here are last-minute gift ideas for a few Wisconsin politicians.

-- Republican Gov. Scott Walker: A 2016 calendar.

Walker expects to be re-elected to a second term in November, so he needs to keep track of the 2016 presidential calendar. He’s flattered that so many Republican leaders nationally have him on their short lists of presidential candidates.

If you get Walker that calendar, help him by circling these January dates: Jan. 5, Iowa precinct caucuses; Jan. 12, New Hampshire primary; Jan. 16, Nevada nonbinding caucuses; Jan. 23, South Carolina primary; and Jan. 26, North Carolina primary.

-- State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate: No gubernatorial primary.

 Tate did everything but file the official run-for-governor papers for Mary Burke, a Madison School Board member, former state Commerce Department secretary and former Trek Bicycle executive. Tate helped talk another potential candidate, Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, out of running against Walker.

Tate respects Democratic Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, who is recovering at her Alma home from a car accident that broke her arm in several places. But Tate hopes Vinehout decides not to challenge Burke in an August primary, which would create an intra-party spat while shifting the focus from Walker and diverting some Burke campaign resources.

-- Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke: What Color is Your Parachute (2014 edition)?

The controversial, outspoken Clarke must make a career choice. Sheriff since 2002, he can run for a fourth term next year, lay the groundwork to run for Milwaukee mayor in 2016, seek a state or national office, or get out of politics. He might find time to read an advice book over the holidays.

-- Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen: What Color is Your Parachute (Used edition)?

Van Hollen is doing something Capitol politicians rarely do—leave office voluntarily. He will not seek a third term next year, so both he and Clarke are open to career advice.

But Van Hollen last week indicated he would listen to all offers, including a potential run for the state Supreme Court in 2015. So save money by buying him a used copy of the career advice book.

-- Wisconsin Supreme Court: Peace pipe.

The last administrative conference of the Wisconsin Supreme Court proved that the seven justices remain as divided and distrustful of each other as ever.

They considered a fairly simple question: Does the process that reviews and investigates complaints against lawyers need tweaking so their current or potential clients can learn of the pending complaints?

But just figuring out how to bring that issue before the court triggered a new round of unjudgelike whining—whining likely to continue until April 2015, when the term of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley expires.

-- Republican Sen. Dale Schultz: Bill Proxmire campaign manual.

A legislator for 30 years, Schultz is wondering whether to run a fight-big-money, populist, low-budget campaign as an independent in his 17th Senate District. Proxmire, the Democrat who represented Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate for 32 years, was the last Wisconsin politician to run those campaigns.

If he runs as a Republican again, Schultz will be badly outspent by Republican Rep. Howard Marklein, who will crusade against Schultz over limits to collecting bargaining by public employees and mining regulations to allow a possible giant open-pit iron mine in Ashland and Iron counties.

-- Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch: 2018 calendar.

Walker and Kleefisch have avoided the public feuds of past governors and lieutenant governors, but the job description of lieutenant governor includes believing you can do the boss’ job. The next up-or-out window for Kleefisch is 2018, whether or not she and Walker win second terms in November.

If Walker loses, Kleefisch can blame Walker’s team for the defeat and lay the groundwork for a 2018 run. If Walker wins and decides against seeking a third term, Kleefisch can say it is her turn. She would also cite her eight years with Walker to seek his endorsement.

-- Assembly Speaker Robin Vos: Friendly Senate.

Vos would like his fellow Republicans who run the Senate to approve Assembly-passed bills on mental health reform, doubling the size of campaign donations for state officials and raising the speed limit.

Steven Walters is a senior producer for the nonprofit public affairs channel WisconsinEye. Email stevenscwalters@gmail.com.

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