Yes, I’m still undecided on who I’ll vote for in the Wisconsin U.S. Senate GOP primary on August 14th. Within the last week I have actually had each of the candidates in my top spot for some reason or another. I think part of the reason I’m having a hard time is that my head and my heart are fighting it out. There seem to be many emotions in this race that can be attributed to each of the candidates. I’m trying to separate my decision from the emotions and make a rational decision on a candidate based on where they stand on the issues and analyzing their likelihood to win the general election. Isn’t that what we as conservatives should be doing? Maybe some of you are struggling with the same thing. Maybe others of you have already been able to do this and maybe still others have ignored reason altogether and just gone straight to your feelings. Here are some thoughts on the candidates and maybe some emotional things that we need to separate ourselves from to make the right decision.
I’ll start with Mark Neumann because his candidacy more than the others has caused some of the most emotional responses for Wisconsin GOP voters. After running an underhanded, dirty primary against Scott Walker in 2010, many GOP voters across this state have foresworn themselves to never support Neumann. Honestly, I was in that camp until recent weeks when I decided to step back, evaluate his positions and how he’d be as a Senator. I truly believe that Mark Neumann would be a good Senator in terms of what I’m looking for. I think he would work to balance the budget, pay down the debt, hold the line on taxes, repeal Obamacare, and hold the D.C. establishment from both parties in check. In fact, I felt that way back in 2010 when I was hoping Mark would run for Senate seat held by Russ Feingold instead of sticking with his plan to run for governor. But he didn’t and now we’re in the spot we’re in with the Neumann campaign. The question I and others have to ask is can we get past those emotions associated with the 2010 primary and vote for Neumann in the 2012 primary. Based on the latest polls, he’s right there at the front and has a chance to win the primary. Would the base rally around Neumann enthusiastically in the general election? I just want to make sure that Neumann isn’t discounted solely on an emotional reaction to the 2010 primary; because I think he can win and would make a good senator.
Eric Hovde has been billing himself as in the mold of Ron Johnson. I think many Wisconsin voters have an emotional attachment to Ron Johnson who not only defeated liberal incumbent Senator Russ Feingold but also has been on a roll through his first two years. Many people would like to see another Ron Johnson in the Senate and I think a number of people voting for Hovde have connected the two (whether on an emotional level or ideological). But we need to be careful of the emotional reaction of electing new blood just because it worked well the last time. The 2012 Senate election is a different election than 2010 for the mere fact that we also have a presidential election. The presidential election adds a different dimension. Not only does the GOP nominee have to be able to overcome Democrat Tammy Baldwin head-to-head, but also the buoy effect of an incumbent President who is still polling ahead in Wisconsin. Hovde like Neumann, has great conservative stances on the issues and would also be good at holding both parties accountable on issues. I just don’t want people to vote for Eric Hovde because of an emotional attachment to Ron Johnson’s election. I want people to vote for Eric Hovde because they agree with his plans and positions on the issues as well as that they think he can win the seat.
Tommy Thompson evokes a nostalgic response for many in Wisconsin simply because of what he did for the state over his multiple terms as governor. He helped usher in a wave of Republican victories in the state for which many who are in office today feel obligated to back him just because of how he helped them when they were starting out. Why the sense of loyalty is understandable, does that mean that Tommy is the right man for the job this time around? I would hope that there would be some objectivity on their part to examine all four candidates and make the best determination of who the candidate should be based on a variety of criteria, not just loyalty. But that’s how Tommy is. He is great at making connections and when those running for office in this state have needed someone, they have invariably turned to Tommy to help fundraise and draw attention to their campaigns, and Tommy has been there to help. There are some who may just look at Thompson’s age and feel he’s too old to keep up in this campaign. But having seen him go around this state working all of the fairs and festivals, I have no doubt that he has the fire and wherewithal to take this all the way. However, some are calling Tommy a “moderate” or RINO which I say is ridiculous. I will say that there are times when it seems like Tommy will look to government for a solution, but he has been mostly supporting free market solutions and pro-growth ideas that will be good for Wisconsin and the country. The “moderate” label is meant to evoke a reaction for those who want to purge the party. I want people to vote for Tommy based on the plan he has and his electability. I don’t people to rule out Tommy because of his age or some ridiculous notion that he’s too much of a moderate. He’s been a reformer who has been able to get Republicans, Democrats and independents to vote for him. If you have specific issues or examples where you see him as too moderate for your position, then that’s fine. But don’t just make an emotional reaction to some calling him a “moderate”.
State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald has done a tremendous job being a leader in the legislature to bring in new conservatives to the Assembly and legislate reforms along with his brother and Gov. Scott Walker. But to just argue that voters need to stand with him because he stood up for reforms in the state isn’t necessarily a reasonable argument. It’s really trying to bring about an emotional response of good feelings for the reforms that were implemented and the connection to Scott Walker’s leadership. I don’t just want people to vote for Fitz simply because he was a part of the recent state reforms or his connection to Scott Walker. People need to understand where he stands on the national issues, determine whether or not you think he can defeat Tammy Baldwin and try to gauge what kind of senator he would be.
In the end, I just want everyone to try and take a step back and make a rational decision for your candidate. Leave the emotions to the left. And since I’m still undecided, please feel free to comment below on your rationing for your candidate.