Monday, September 21, 2015

Walker Out, Hogg In

It makes sense that the high point of Scott Walker's presidential campaign was getting heckled by cheesehead-wearing protesters at the Iowa State Fair. Faced with his old familiar adversaries, bused in from Madison, you saw a little of the old Walker rage that made him a hero to teacher haters.

But without the immediate presence of his foes, Walker couldn't play hero-victim as easily, and he showed a deep streak of Not Ready For Prime Time. When the story of the Scott Walker presidential campaign is written, it will be a very slim book, as it formally lasted barely two months. And he's free to use my suggested title, From Ass To Asterisk.

My Wisconsin relatives are torn between the schadenfreude of his collapse and the realization that now he'll have more time to screw up the Badger state. It's hard to imagine him doing even more damage than he's already done, and between this and the Packers beating Seattle last night, it's a pretty good 24 hours for the cheeseheads.

Still, I have some regrets. For one, the price for this t-shirt I was planning to auction off at the Johnson County Dems BBQ next month just dropped.

I also have to eat yet another beret, as I had loudly and frequently predicted that Walker would, in the end, be the nominee. I thought his claim to fame, busting public employee unions, would unite both establishment and tea partiers, Because union busting is something that actually matters to the establishment wing of the Republican Party (see the career of Terry Branstad for more details.)

But to the Republican voter base, union busting is soooo 2011. They want what Trump is selling: mass deportation of Hispanics and "elimination" of Muslims. So Walker turned out to be not establishment enough for the establishment, and not crazy enough for the crazies - if only because the crazy bar his risen substantially this year.

So now I need to make a new bet as to eventual nominee...

That's an easy bet in Iowa's Democratic Senate primary. Rob Hogg is ending the exploring and making his announcement tomorrow. Hogg is just what I've been calling for since long before my own brief candidacy - someone who can rally the base, help the rest of the ticket, and be credible in case of the Last Minute Switcheroo Scenario where Chuck Grassley drops out at filing deadline and Pat Grassley runs instead. (A very slim chance, but possible.)

Bonus: Any candidate who exceeds expectations against Grassley - and expectations for Grassley challengers are very low - sets themselves up well for a future run at something.

Rob's a smart guy and his focus on environmental issues are a winner with the party activists who are likely to be voting in the primary. His Cedar Rapids address helps in the primary, too, as 1st District Democrats are likely to have the hottest congressional primary next year. He also has Iowa City roots, and Johnson County always punches above its weight in statewide Democratic primaries, because our courthouse primaries are de facto general elections for those offices and that boosts turnout.

So Hogg instantly ends Tom Fiegen's dubious claim to being "the leading candidate." Fiegen will no doubt continue his claims to being the "Bernie Sanders Democrat" in the race, but history tells us that such support is rarely transferable, especially when it's self-claimed.

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