DINO in the Crosshairs
It may not be good for democracy, but it means that
when Republicans are in the majority, they have more power to pass extreme
laws, and when they are in the minority, they have more power to prevent the
Democratic majority from accomplishing anything.
Democrats, on the other hand, are notoriously
unorganized. Even with historic Democratic majorities in Congress, President
Barack Obama was openly extorted by conservatives within his own party to pare
back health care and job creation.
One of the ways Republicans rigidly enforce party
discipline is by periodically purging politicians they call RINOs—Republicans
In Name Only. This year, the Tea Party has been only too glad to help.
With troglodyte Tea Party primary candidates running
against Republican incumbents, anyone who wanted to win a Republican nomination
had to renounce any pretense of independence.
Even that proud maverick Sen. John McCain was forced
to abandon his past opposition to tax cuts for the rich and start spewing
hatred for immigrants instead of supporting immigration reform.
It works for Republicans, but the bad part is it
prevents Democrats and Republicans from working together for the benefit of all
of us at a time when our economic recovery depends upon it.
Ousting Sen. Plale
Now in Wisconsin,
some Democrats have decided that since Republicans refuse to do anything to
assist the recovery anyway, the only way to succeed is to purge their own ranks
of DINOs—conservative Democrats who cannot be counted on to support a
In the Milwaukee area, the No. 1 target is state
Sen. Jeff Plale, the conservative Democrat from South Milwaukee whose district
also includes Oak Creek, Cudahy and St. Francis, as well as Bay View and up
into the East Side around UW-Milwaukee.
Plale’s opponent in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary
is County Supervisor Chris Larson, an energetic young leader on mass transit
and environmental issues.
The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, the
Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin strongly support Larson. One reason for that
support is because Plale blocked the Clean Energy Jobs Act, Gov. Jim Doyle’s
anti-global-warming, pro-green-jobs initiative.
Almost as telling are some of the groups and
personalities who have come out of the woodwork to support Plale.
A slickly produced, full-color mailing went out to
the district last week. It doesn’t mention Plale. In fact, it claims to be “The
Secret to Chris Larson’s Success, By Chris Larson.”
As soon as you open it up, you know you’ve been had.
It’s not by Chris Larson. It hates Chris Larson. Then you notice the flier was
mailed by the American Federation for Children in Washington, D.C.
Golly, how could Larson have ticked off a bunch of
kids in Washington, D.C.? What you need to know is the American
Federation for Children is a pro-voucher education lobby whose Wisconsin point man is former Republican Assembly Speaker
Yes, that’s the same Scott Jensen who was convicted
in 2006 of three felony counts of misconduct in public office for using state
employees to campaign for Republicans. That conviction was reversed on appeal
and Jensen is awaiting a new trial ordered to take place in Waukesha County,
his home county, rather than in Dane
County, where the crimes
originally were charged.
Jensen also has flooded Plale’s district with
automated phone calls denigrating Larson. Democratic voters may wonder why a
defrocked Republican politician awaiting his second trial on corruption charges
is campaigning for their state senator.
The same could be asked about right-wing talk-show
host Charlie Sykes, who regularly attacks Larson. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s right-wing columnist Patrick
McIlheran even devoted a column to denying that Plale was a conservative owned
by special interests, which is pretty strong evidence that he is.
Particularly interesting was the discovery by Lisa
Kaiser of the Shepherd Express that
Plale had received a campaign contribution from a lobbyist for Koch Industries.
Koch Industries is the oil conglomerate owned by two
billionaire sons of a founder of the ultraconservative John Birch Society
recently exposed in detail in The New
Yorker as the silent financiers of Tea Party groups and global-warming
deniers around the country.
Koch Industries and its front group, Americans for Prosperity, lobbied strongly
against the Clean Energy Jobs Act and Plale danced just as fast as he could.
Progressive Democrats have challenged Plale in the
past, but the stars may be better aligned for success this time.
With Scott Walker and Mark Neumann seeking the Republican nomination for governor and Ron Johnson all over TV running for the Senate, conservatives who voted Democratic for Plale in the past may be voting in the Republican primary this time.