Voters should choose 7th CD candidate | Wis.Community

Voters should choose 7th CD candidate

John Nichols in the Capital Times agrees that the best way for Democrats to pick a candidate to replace Congressman Dave Obey is to let the voters decide.

That's the Wisconsin Progressive tradition, since the days when Fighting Bob LaFollette fought for open primaries to wrest candidate selection away from the party bosses in their smoke-filled rooms.Says Nichols:

If D.C. Democrats try to impose a candidate on the district, they will almost certainly get it wrong. And, frankly, there is no reason to have any more confidence in the crew in Madison. An open Democratic primary in the 7th is the best way to pick the candidate who is the right fit for the district.

Democrats should recall that Russ Feingold, Herb Kohl, Tammy Baldwin, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Steve Kagen all won their seats after first winning highly competitive Democratic primaries. The last three Democrats to win the governorship -- Jim Doyle, Tony Earl and Pat Lucey -- all won tough party primary contests first. Bill Proxmire may have had an easy time getting re-elected to the Senate -- so easy that he spent under $1,000 on some campaigns -- but before he got to the Senate he had to win a rough-and-tumble Democratic primary.

The notion that a primary weakens the winner, or in any way threatens a candidate’s viability in November, is rooted in the insider-gamesmanship that is more likely to lose a seat than win it.

If Democrats “name” a candidate in the 7th, they will probably lose the seat.

The Dems are trying hard to hand the nomination to State Sen. Julie Lassa and keep anyone else out, with Obey and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee teaming up to lean on anyone else considering a run.

But since it's been 40 years since the seat was open and any Democrat but Obey had a chance to run for it, that is a huge mistake.

Unfortunately, the lightning-fast, back room candidate selection process may well prevail. Anyone with enough guts to challenge the "party bosses" -- or Democratic establishment, if you prefer -- will be in for a rough ride.

The party, the voters, and the eventual nominee all would benefit from a real primary. Sadly, we're not likely to see one.

Published

May 11, 2010 - 10:30am

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