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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, October 12, 2006

WI-05: F. Jim's running scared, with lapdog help

I don't remember when the last time F. Jim Sensenbrenner faced a credible opponent. He may not, either, for that matter. But consider the facts:
  • Bryan Kennedy has raised more money than any previous opponent (you can still add to that).
  • A recent poll (why was there no good press about this?) shows that
    • Half (49%) of all WI-05 voters feel things in the country are off on the wrong track.
    • Democrats have gained 13% in self identified partisanship since 2004, with Republicans holding a much smaller 45% to 35% advantage than they held two years ago.
    • Only half of the district rates Sensenbrenner positively by half (49%) of all voters, which is a twelve point drop in his personal favorability ratings since 2004.
    • Sensenbrenner’s negative job performance rating is 46% negative.
    • In informed trial heats, Kennedy pulls within striking distance (Kennedy 41%, Sensenbrenner 51%) and closes the gap even further to 41% to 49% in a re-test of the trial heat after the voters hear a series of messages against Sensenbrenner.
    • Forty percent of Sensenbrenner’s support is weak and vulnerable.
  • Sensenbrenner has massively increased the time he's spent in the district, including agreeing to debate his opponent(s) for the first time in my memory, at least.
  • The power-licking Spivak and Bice, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, have been pursuing Kennedy not for his policy positions--which by far represent those of the general public better than F. Jim's--but rather because Bryan is not a millionaire, like some Congressmen I could name, and actually put his family into debt in 2004 doing what he's doing now.
First it was the fact that Bryan couldn't afford to feed his children if he didn't pay himself a salary. Now comes a story to me from a reliable source that after last night's candidate forum, the Spice Boys--who skipped the debate itself--grilled Kennedy about why his campaign would be paying for child care.

Well, um, because it's legal, and necessary. When Kennedy and his wife were both working--Bryan's on leave from his professorship at UWM to, you know, run for Congress--they were able to arrange their schedules to minimize child care needs. Now, with Kennedy's irregular (and 22-hour-a-day or so) campaign schedule, it's just not possible.

And part of what put the Kennedys in debt last time around was making sure someone responsible watched the kids. Maybe people whose fortunes were made in tampons don't need help running for Congress, but we mere mortals do.

Again, this is all legal--and a necessary recourse for candidates of modest means. Kennedy's campaign has, from what I understand, checked repeatedly with the FEC for guidance on this, and they've given the okay.

And yet, for the Spice Boys, this is the stuff of juicy gossip columns. This is what makes headlines. This is what is worth writing up, not any of the things worth really talking about. Not Sensenbrenner's lobbyist-paid travel habits, meddling ex parte in federal criminal cases, foul treatment of committee witnesses and constituents.

How scared must Sensenbrenner, and the lapdogs willing to sniff every low place for a story, be about Kennedy's chances November 7, that they've hit the sleaze sauce so hard?

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