Democrats aren’t about to do the Lambeau Leap

WisconsinDemocrats have become the political version of the Chicago Bears. They’re a team that can’t win big games.

Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke was routed when she fumbled the jobs-program issue. Her opponents denounced her for using a consultant’s hastily developed jobs program. Republicans capitalized when she struggled to define the word “plagiarize” – their charge against her plan.

It could have turned into an interception had Burke responded by telling the questioner to use his phone to look up the word, and then running with the political football by comparing details of the plan to those of Gov. Scott Walker. That assumes she knew the details of both approaches.

She wasn’t quick enough to score on the issue. Speed and preparedness are as important in politics as they are in professional football.

Republicans also scored victories in legislative elections. They will start the 2015-2017 legislative session with a 63-36 margin in the Assembly and will have a 19-14 margin in the State Senate after an upcoming special election in a strong GOP district.

The legislative elections weren’t a sneak play. In 2011, a Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Walker gerrymandered legislative district lines, which guarantees GOP legislative majorities, probably through the year 2021. It was akin to picking your own officials for the political games. You knew who was going to win.

The gerrymandering was so complete that nearly half of the legislative districts lacked a major party challenger this month. That includes districts won by 25 Democrats and 30 Republicans.

Entering the 2015 legislative session, the Democrats will be without several veteran political players. Not seeking re-election to the State Senate were Tim Cullen of Janesville and Bob Jauch of Poplar. They remember the days when Democrats were the winning team, and they decided it was better to sit in the stands than sit in the losing locker room.

Only time will tell who will be the future stars of the Democrat team. Big names don’t necessarily guarantee success on the football field. Jay Cutler, the highly paid quarterback of the Chicago Bears, continues to be unable to defeat the Green Bay Packers.

Don’t feel sorry for the Democrats in the next Legislature. They won’t have to work very hard; their major role will be to respond to questions about the actions of the winning Republican team. Reporters have an obligation to get at least a quote or two from those on the losing bench.

Is there any hope for the future of the Democratic Party in the current Wisconsin political structure?

Their future may be tied to possible overreaching and/or missteps by Republicans. Consider recent steps by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester. He is vowing to change the Government Accountability Board, which is in charge of elections and ethics.

He also is questioning whether the state should be providing any help in construction of a new home for the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball team. Vos has noted the new owners of the team donated heavily to Democrats and had the audacity to greet President Obama when he flew into Wisconsin for a pre-election political rally.

Providing any sort of state assistance for a professional sports team would be difficult. The major financial lifting will need to be done by the governor, the star quarterback on the Republican team.

Walker may be thinking about other things. He wants to rush the 2015-2017 budget through the Legislature. Perhaps he wants to clear the deck so he can run for president in 2016.

That’s the Super Bowl of American politics.

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