Some surprises as labor press editor assesses Milwaukee exec field | WisCommunity

Some surprises as labor press editor assesses Milwaukee exec field

Two weeks until primary election day, with a dearth of any meaningful coverage by the mainstream news media of the Milwaukee County executive race, the local labor press has stepped up to fill the void.

A front page analysis in the Milwaukee Labor Press by its editor, Dominique Noth (pictured), is fittingly headlined, "Voters sift media simplicity in county exec contest." Which is to say, the media want to label everyone and do little more in the way of coverage,

It's identified as analysis, and represents Noth's own thoughts rather than any official position of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, which has not made an endorsement. But it's both insightful and telling about how the race -- and the candidates -- stack up.

Says Noth:

There's no smart money in figuring this one. The right-wing believers in talk radio think they make the difference. The believers in proven name recognition have a different view. The media believes it can dominate with labels and facile analysis. The believers that money talks think everyone else is wrong.

The biggest surprise may be how kind he is to Chris Abele and what short shrift he gives to Jim Sullivan, whom many consider labor's candidate. With that backdrop, here are my Cliff Notes on his assessments of the four candidates he takes seriously (Ieshuh Griffin didn't make the cut.)

Chris Abele: An involved thinker ... funder of many progressive causes... a moneybags who can be free of special interests ... hard to read, evades pigeonholing ... "Clearly no one controls him. That scares everyone." ... "Dems who have knee-jerk doubts about trust fund babies scoffed at Abele's inherited wealth -- quite an ironic turn" since they were quite willing to ask him for donations, but say "how dare he" step out of the shadows and run himself ... defends public workers but open to private companies if they improve services and save money (no candidate has ruled out privatization, he notes.)

Lee Holloway Has street smarts, defender of downtrodden ... Media have portrayed him as a slumlord, but "he is actuallya conservative black businessmanwith a genuine commitment tothe county's role in health care and safety nets." ... ego overshadows his sense of humor and willingness to listen ... his dismissive attitude and brusqueness could cause problems ... Few object to his ideas like "finding funding for public transit, solving the mental health boondoggle with a series of smaller dispersed facilities, consolidating services with other local governments for lower costs, resolving the union stalemates on things like furloughdays and pension formulas" .. but the devil's in the details...

Jeff Stone Affable but ducked union interviews ... introduced voter ID bill and other Republican items to court the right and conervative base, but that gets him little in county race ... Walker's heir, knows he will have talk radio support ... but Walker did not do well in Milwaukee County in November ... "Stone has to prove he's more than the Madison guy who wanted to regionalize county services, something more than the legislator who earned a zero rating last session from the state AFL-CIO>"

Jim Sullivan Has to demonstrate knowledge closer to Milwaukee than his Madison experience, but has been a Wauwatosa alderman before he was a state senator ,,, a good reputation with unions and moderate Democrats... track record of a common sense approach and the ability to work with all sides on problem solving... "Without much money or time, few believe that Sullivan, though personable, can make an impact by Feb. 15."

And there you have it, in brief. You can read the full version here.


February 1, 2011 - 6:41pm