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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Sunday, September 03, 2006

US Senate, the folkbum endorsement: Ben Masel

Is Herb Kohl the worst Democrat in the United States Senate? Republicans, independents, and Democrats alike can agree that the answer to that question is indeed no, though for different reasons. But has Kohl's time in the Senate been so distinguished and so extraordinary that he does not deserve a viable challenger? Again, most of us would probably say no.

Unfortunately, it looks like the most serious challenge to Kohl will come this year from Green Rae Vogler; Robert Lorge's 30% or so will come mostly from Republicans reflexively voting that way, not because they support him. But if you're voting in the Democratic primary--as I am--you can't also vote for Vogeler. Therefore, I recommend my friend and professional troublemaker Ben Masel.

Yes, I know, that's a MySpace page. Ben doesn't have one of them fancy websites with the bells and the whistles and the forms for signing up to get a yard sign or anything. This is primarily because he isn't making much money at this gig; he's accepting maximum $1 contributions to his campaign. If I remember right, he's collected somewhere around $500 so far (Ben will likely jump in to the comments below with the up-to-date figure).

It's a safe bet, then, he will be massively outspent by Herb Kohl.

That doesn't mean that Kohl shouldn't hear about the things that we don't like about him. His support for the Iraq War Resolution remains one that sticks in my craw, as well as his vote for the bankruptcy legislation that privileges credit card companies over working families. Ben Masel would not have supported either of those measures.

In the end, am I going to worry if Kohl is re-elected? No; he is, most of the time, a perfectly reliable Democratic vote. But he's not a leader, and he's unwilling to stick his neck out to protect the people of Wisconsin the way Russ Feingold does. Or the way Ben Masel would.

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