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Issue of the Week: Abele’s Latest Scheme

Aug. 6, 2014
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In his short tenure as Milwaukee County executive, Chris Abele has become the most divisive and combative county executive Milwaukee County has ever had by far. If you listen to talk radio or read the Journal Sentinel, you are led to believe that it is the fault of the county board. Keep in mind that this is essentially the same county board that was able to work with Scott Walker when he was county executive.

So why did things get so nasty under his successor, Mr. “Scott Walker Lite”?

The answer is very clear. Obviously, the county board is not completely innocent and longtime county board watchers assign fault at about 20% the board and 80% Abele. The source of the problem is not the county board, but the clumsy and aggressive actions of Abele. When you grow up with family money to enable you to buy whatever or whomever you needed, you didn’t have to learn to work with people, to compromise and to try to work toward consensus. Instead, you just stepped over or, more often, just stepped on anyone who disagreed with you.

Abele’s approach to governing is rather unique. In order to get his way, Abele goes around the county supervisors, who are elected by Milwaukee County voters, and who are supposed to be the check and balance against the county executive. Instead, he goes to the outstate conservative Republican legislators to override the will of Milwaukee County’s elected representatives. Abele garners support from outstate Republican legislators, many of whom are clearly and unabashedly hostile to Milwaukee. All of his “major changes” were put into effect, not by the democratic approach of working with the locally elected county supervisors as the system was designed to do and how it has worked since the current county system was created. Instead, he had his outstate conservative Republican legislator pals, who are not elected by and do not represent the Milwaukee County voters, override the wishes of the majority of Milwaukee County residents.

This pattern is exposing Abele to the obvious question, who does he represent and why does he claim to be a Democrat when his actions are those of a conservative Republican? 

In response to those questions, Abele has recently been bragging to his friends that his new strategy is to create the Abele machine. He has personally recruited two individuals who, he brags, will be under his control, to run in the Milwaukee County Democratic state Assembly seats being vacated by state representatives Sandy Pasch and Jon Richards. His friends said that he even referred to himself as “Boss Abele” in the mold of the late Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Abele’s plan is to use his money to try to buy the election for his two hand-selected individuals. So when he takes his issues to the Republican-controlled Legislature, he will have two votes from Democrats in Milwaukee County. That will enable him to claim he is not a hard-line Republican, but a bipartisan hero.

Unfortunately, Abele’s plan could work since money is important in elections. But money cannot buy votes or an election if the voters stay well informed. Keep an eye out for negative and false campaign literature and any ads attacking the candidates running against his chosen ones.  One guess who is paying for these ads.


The Libertarian Party has nominated two former Republican governors to its 2016 presidential ticket. How likely is it that Republicans disgusted by Donald Trump will vote Libertarian in November?

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