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Clarke’s Wasted Effort

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on July 9, 2010

Yesterday, at Milwaukee County First, I wrote about Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who has decided to scrap some of the programs designed to help inmates to deal with their issues so that they hopefully don’t return to prison. Clarke’s idea is to replace these programs with the same programs, but in a manner less conducive to success.

I wondered if this stunt was simply because this was an election year for Clarke. If it was just a political stunt, he has wasted his time twice. First with reinventing the wheel, but making it square.

But if he is trying to play to his conservative base, he might also be spinning his square wheels.

Wisconsin does not have open primaries, meaning that the voter can only choose between Republicans or Democrats. For example, the voter would not be able to vote for a Democratic gubernatorial candidate and a Republican sheriff. It’s all one or the other (or some other party).

Since Clarke, even though running as a Democrat, relies heavily on his conservative (read Republican) base, this spells trouble for him, if his opponent, Chris Moews, can get his message out.

As everyone with the least interest in state politics is already aware, there is quite the contentious race going on between Mark Neumann and Scott Walker. That means that both candidates will be fighting tooth and nail for every vote they can get. (Yes, despite Walker’s boasts that he is sooooo far ahead, the truth is that they are very nearly tied.)

This leaves very few Republicans that will be willing to cross over to the Democratic side of the ballot, just to vote for Clarke.

That said, Clarke’s best hope is that the opposite happens, and a lot of Milwaukee-based Democrats switch over to put the screws to one of the Republican wannabes. This would take away potential votes for Moews, and give Clarke a better chance of winning re-election.

But no matter what, I don’t know how his acts of bravado is going to help him this year.


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