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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Secretary of State, the folkbum endorsement: Scot Ross

I went back and forth about whether I wanted to make an endorsement in this race, and it even took me a while to figure out who I wanted to vote for. But it's become clear in the last week or so that Scot Ross is da man.

I'm not saying that Doug LaFollette has been bad as Secretary of State; but he hasn't been good, either. He's just kind of been. But elected Democrats have been telling me he does nothing for the party. He's steadfastly refused to debate Ross (as Ross noted on this very blog) for fear it would give the Republicans "ammunition." Carrie Lynch at What's Left has been all over the story of how LaFollette doesn't know how to campaign legally in the age of the internets--something LaFollette got nailed for last week (see today's Wisconsin State Journal for more).

But what pushed me over into deciding to endorse is the fact that Scot Ross has a sense of humor. Last week--before LaFollette was fined by the state ethics board--the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorsed him, almost entirely based on the fact that, while a staffer in the Democratic Caucus office, Ross did some campaign work for his bosses on state time. (Ross cooperated fully with the investigation that led to convictions and jail time for top Democrats and Republicans in the legislature at the time.) Here's Ross's response:
Caucus Involvement to Cost Green Journal Sentinel Nod
‘Charlie Sykes is Going to Be Ticked About This,’ Says Ross

Wisconsin – Scot Ross, Democratic Secretary of State Candidate, predicted Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green would lose the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorsement, due to Green’s involvement in the caucus scandal.

“No newspaper with any credibility would have a double standard when it comes to how they treat Democrats versus Republicans,” said Ross. “Unfortunately for Mark Green, his involvement in the caucus scandal likely means he has forfeited the chance to win the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s endorsement.” [. . .]

“What was going on was wrong and I hope my cooperation was of some assistance,” said Ross. “I remain concerned the only one who has refused to come clean is Mark Green, who talks like Sergeant York when he’s risking other people’s children in Iraq, but sounds like Sergeant Schultz when he’s trying to save his own skin.”
Yeah, it's a cheesy press release, but it's right on the money. I think the Journal Sentinel will likely endorse Doyle--for other reasons beyond Green's having been up to his elbows in caucus scandal--but Ross, with a much better attitude than I might have taken, drew a bright red line and dared the paper's editorial board to cross it come November. I like that kind of moxie.

Now, I do have some reservations about Ross's ideas to return some authority over elections to the SoS office; I like the non-partisan (or, really, multi-partisan) board we have now. I'm not a big fan of current chair Kevin Kennedy, but for 30 years Wisconsin's had unelected independent officials overseeing elections in this state. I don't think Scot Ross would ever be a Katherine Harris of a Ken Blackwell, but the potential for mischief by someone less principled makes me wary. However, that kind of change has to be made in the legislature, and with any luck--and a Democratic State Senate--something like SB-1 could pass and elections can get cleaner without centralizing control in a partisan elected office.

In the meantime, Scot Ross will revitalize the Secretary of State's office.

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