Rejection of student regent another bit of petty politics

CAPITOL NEWSLETTER
Matt Pommer  Wisconsin Newspaper Association

Gov. Scott Walker did himself a disservice when he withdrew the appointment of a Platteville campus student to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents.

Joshua Inglett was among three Walker appointees to the Board of Regents. Others were retired State Auditor Janice Mueller and former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow. The two women will serve seven-year terms as regents. The student appointment was for two years.

In making the appointment the governor said the student’s perspective is especially vital to the Board of Regents. “I know he will serve the UW System and his fellow students well,” Walker said.

But Walker withdrew the Inglett’s nomination when conservative media reported the young man was among the nearly one million citizens who had signed the petition that forced the unsuccessful recall election of Walker two years ago. Inglett did not vote in the June 2011 recall election.

Walker’s move reinforced his “us” and “them” political image. Negative reaction came quickly.

“There should be no black list for the people of this state,” said State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton. “Our state deserves better,” he added recalling the paranoia fostered by the late Republican U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy who represented Wisconsin in the 1950s.

State Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, wrote to the governor suggesting that he consider the age of the young man. He suggested Walker consider Lincoln’s words and “show mercy to this young man.”

“It seems to me this young man was caught up in the emotion and fervor of our state’s ‘civil war’ of just two years ago... it appears he did nothing more than sign a petition. In any event, the side to which he signed lost,” Schultz wrote.

“I’m not sure about you, but for me, I know my youth, and particularly during college, that I experimented and made decisions that, upon further thought and growth, I wouldn’t make again, I’m thankful others gave me opportunities to learn and grow as a person and professionally,” added Schultz.

It wasn’t mentioned, but Walker may want to remember the student-election flap in which he was involved during his days at Marquette University.

Now Walker is eyeing a run for the Republican nomination for president. The governor has been touring America speaking to Republican and right-wing organizations as part of that effort. Schultz seemed to understand Walker’s national ambitions.

“To your credit, you displayed presidential traits by calling for forgiveness and healing at the bipartisan cookout at your residence after you won your recall,” Schultz said in his letter to the governor.

The senator reminded Walker of Lincoln’s second inaugural address. “We are all made better by appealing to the better angels of our nature,” said Schultz, stressing that the appointment decision “is solely yours to make.”

“All I can do is to ask that in the spirit of the great leader of our party, you show mercy to this young man. I agree with you, that for our state to heal we must look past those issues which divided us and focus on those passions for which we share and move our great state forward,” wrote Schultz.

A footnote: Schultz, a moderate, disagreed with Walker’s sweeping anti-union efforts. Conservatives now are getting ready to mount a primary challenge against him if the senator seeks re-election in 2014.


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