This spring’s election was not kind to conservative candidates. Judge Koschnick, Rose Fernandez and Daniel Gabler all suffered tough defeats last Tuesday. Making excuses never does any good. Conservatives need to continue in their efforts to strengthen conservative organizations that will assist in spreading the conservative message and to help in recruiting solid conservatives to take on entrenched liberal interests. Americans for Prosperity of Wisconsin took over the Midwest Express Center at their annual gathering. Over 350 concerned activists attended the Milwaukee County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day event a few weeks ago. Thousands are expected to attend the AFP taxpayer rally in Madison this Wednesday. Conservatism in Wisconsin is not dead. We need to continue to organize, raise funds, and find good folks to run at all levels.
HOWEVER, there is something that has bothered me since Tuesday that I cannot overlook. One of Chief Justice Abrahamson’s last commercials before the election focused on the role of “special interests” and warned voters of the possible influence of such advocacy. The only problem is that the ominous tone of the commercial really highlighted the major storyline of the election. The ONLY special interest influence came from the political left.
Following election to the state’s high court of conservative candidates in 2007 and 2008, pundits throughout the state howled at the role special interest money played in the election, especially funding from the state’s largest business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. Funny, but I don’t hear that same howling. If the left was going to be intellectually honest, it would denounce the role special interests played in this spring’s election.
The Greater Wisconsin Committee contributed to the campaign of the Chief Justice. She raised close to $1.3 million during the election cycle, much of it raised during the fall’s election. Conversely, Judge Koschnick raised only $180,000. The election for State Superintendent of Public Instruction offers an ever clearer picture. The state’s teachers union, WEAC, spent nearly $700,000 on behalf of Evers. That amount included $500,000 in television and radio buys. Rose simply could not match the influence of WEAC.
The reason we don’t hear howling similar to 2007 and 2008 is because liberals only complain when conservatives and like-minded interest groups organize and attempt to affect the status quo in Wisconsin. When a group like WMC decides to spend money in order to promote candidates that advocate judicial restraint and don’t favor unlimited liability, they are portrayed as the evil forces of “special interest.” When WEAC completely dominates an election with special interest money, there is a sigh of relief that the status quo was not affected. Either special interest groups have the right to raise funds and express political messages during elections or they don’t. Those on the left can’t have it both ways.
But no more complaining. Conservatives were not as organized as we needed to be and did not raise the funds needed to challenge the only special interests involved in this spring’s election. If conservatives are going to challenge the likes of Governor Doyle in 2010, the work needs to begin now. Lord knows the “special interests” are going to be ready.