The unknown unknowns

Posted in Weekly Newsletter on by .

elections 2014 postOur headline is Donald Rumsfeld’s expression for things that materialize out of nowhere to throw policy initiatives into chaos.  Now it describes next year’s electoral prospects for two of Wisconsin’s top constitutional offices:  Governor and Attorney General.

Having served as Commerce Secretary in the Doyle administration and as a member of the Madison school board, millionaire Mary Burke is known, but only to people who pay very close attention to comings and goings in state politics. To the overwhelming majority of those who will vote in the 2014 governor’s race, she is, as of now, unknown, and that’s to her advantage.

The bigger unknown is who will emerge to run for Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen’s job, now that we know it won’t be him.  We’ve heard the name of former Congressman and former Ambassador Mark Green mentioned on the Republican side. It will be interesting to see if Democrats firm up their emerging pattern of suppressing primaries and hand-picking a candidate, as seems to be the case with Burke’s gubernatorial campaign.

Here is a “known known.” The 2014 election was always destined to be a high-stakes affair, deciding whether Wisconsin stands firm with the Walker reforms or slouches back to deficit spending and all-encompassing government.  Now the stakes have doubled, because if any Democrat wins the attorney general’s office and Scott Walker is re-elected governor, you can expect attempts to brand conservative policy choices as criminal conduct. Preposterous, but they’ll say anything.

As for Burke’s prospects, they depend on how effectively the Walker campaign erases her advantage as an “unknown.”

The Governor may miss his goal of 250,000, but Wisconsin is adding jobs. Mary Burke held key responsibilities for job development in an administration known mainly for subtracting them.

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