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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

If I were candidate Bobot

The city of Milwaukee has finished its hand recount of ballots, and has come up with a ballot total (46,548) that more closely matches the vote totals from Tuesday's election (40,971 for the highest-voted office, Milwaukee County Sheriff).

It seems unlikely that enough of the 5,500 or so ballots that make up the difference were both Democratic and had a vote on them for Vince Bobot, though his is probably the only race whose margin of victory is in the margin of difference. That's one legitimate reason to ask for a recount, and even offer to pay for it, even if it probably won't change the result:
Surrounded by 70 cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters on W. Oklahoma Ave., Bobot vowed to press on with a recount, even though he will have to do so at his own expense. He said he also is considering a write-in campaign for Milwaukee County sheriff in the general election Nov. 7.

He expressed concern that election officials might not finish the recount before they have to print up and mail out absentee ballots for the general election. [. . .] He said his campaign also had received "anywhere from 50 to 100 reports of discrepancies" in the vote.

"But why speculate. The facts are there. The ballots are in someone's possession. They can be checked out. (This) can be adequately done, and I'm willing to pay for it," he said.
But there's also a suggestion in the article that Bobot is thinking of mounting a quixotic write-in campaign. If he really wants to see Sheriff Clarke out of office--and for the good of the county, a lot of us do--then his best bet is to endorse and campaign for Don Holt.

But, Jay! you are screaming in horror at your computer monitor, Don Holt is a Republican! Yeah? And? I'm as partisan a Democrat as they come, but work with me here: There will be two candidates for Milwaukee County Sheriff on the ballot in November, one of whom has been a failure at the job and one of whom has a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, including management experience. It isn't about being a Democrat or a Republican in his race, though I would argue that the choice here is between a Republican and a Republican who lies and calls himself a Democrat. It's about being a good cop, and a good manager, and concerned with making sure the county is safe and day-to-day operations don't suffer under the ego of someone who sees Sheriff as a stepping stone to something bigger.

I'm constantly amazed at the number of conservatives, both in comments here to my posts about Bobot and elsewhere, who reflexively believed that Bobot was going to be some kind of soft-on-crime bleeding heart. He would not; his dedication (and decoration) as a police officer--and his time as a judge and city attorney--proved quite the opposite. But as with George W. Bush, conservatives are buying tough talk from Clarke. As much as Clarke may run around and claim to know what this city needs to stop its violent crime problem (what, one middle-aged deputy on foot?), he has shown that he doesn't actually care about managing anything beyond his image. I challenge anyone to name one thing--just one--that Clarke has done, not just said, to actually improve the situation in Milwaukee County or in the city. Just one.

So what Bobot should do--what I would do, were I him, anyway--is endorse and campaign for Holt. Start slow; have an upset staffer ("I can't believe Vince would meet with a Republican!") leak to the press that Bobot's meeting Holt. Deny everything, but remain "committed to changing the leadership of the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department."

Then show up at a Holt rally, unannounced (except leaked). Holt "spontaneously" invites Bobot on stage to praise his long service to the community, and, in another "spontaneous" moment, in front of cheering crowds, pull the trigger on the endorsement.

The state and county Democratic parties will do nothing to help National Black Republican Association member (maybe ex-member) Clarke, or honest Republican Holt. But Bobot could probably do quite a lot to motivate Milwaukee County voters to split their tickets and elect someone who can actually do the job. A write-in campaign will fail; an all-out effort to elect a solid candidate could work.

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