The Stench of Dirty Wisconsin Politics
Democratic Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips is running for President of the United States. Many of us never heard of him until now, though he has been in Congress since 2019. If the Democratic Party has its way, most people will continue to be unaware of him. Joe Biden refuses to acknowledge his existence, much less debate him. The Party will do all it can to obstruct his candidacy. They know liberals are hungry for an alternative to Joe Biden but they are unconcerned with what the people want. Power and control drive them.
I would never vote for Dean Phillips because his positions are wrong for our country. They include Medicare for all, the climate change agenda, and universal income, but he is a credible candidate for President. His dad was killed in Vietnam when he was a child. His mother remarried and his stepdad embraced him as a son. He was the beneficiary of a profitable family business, got a good education and has been a successful businessman in a number of his own ventures. He does not accept any PAC or Lobbyist money and has made fiscal responsibility a focal point of his work. Dean Phillips’ defeat should come at the hands of the voters, not through ballot manipulation by the media and the political parties.
The candidacy of Dean Phillips dispels any myth that Wisconsin politics are squeaky clean. His battle to have his name placed on the Wisconsin primary ballot exposes another ugly truth about how our politicians have worked against the interests of Wisconsin voters.
On January 2, the Presidential Preference Selection Committee met as required by Wisconsin law. The Committee has the sole authority to determine who will be on the ballot in the presidential primary. The Committee members are Ben Wikler, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Brian Schimming, Chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, one state senator and representative from each of the two parties, 2 representatives of the Democratic National Committee and 2 representatives of the Republican National Committee.
In a stunning display of “rubber stamping,” the Committee met for 5 minutes to approve the lists put forth by each party. The Democrats named Joe Biden and the Republicans named Donald Trump and 5 others who were declared candidates at the time. No discussion. No concerns.
Many of us were unaware there is a Presidential Preference Selection Committee in Wisconsin law. Voters all across the political spectrum will be furious when they learn of the legislative malpractice reflected in the language of the statute: “The committee shall place the names of all candidates whose candidacy is generally advocated or recognized in the national news media throughout the United States on the ballot, and may, in addition, place the names of other candidates on the ballot.” The power vested in the media to ”recognize or advocate” who will be allowed on the ballot is in direct conflict with the role of a free press. Their responsibility is to equip the voters with all available information on would-be candidates to enable them to make informed choices.
I can attest from my personal experience as an Independent candidate for Governor in 2022, the media shuts out candidates who are not political insiders or backed by big money and refuses to provide the voters the answers to basic, fundamental questions: Who is this person? Why are they running? How would they govern? Members of the media are enthusiastic partners with the political parties, pollsters, and those who host debates in maintaining a stranglehold on our political process.
On January 26, Phillips filed a petition for “original action” with the Wisconsin Supreme Court alleging that the Committee and the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) “abused their discretion” by refusing to place him on the April 2 ballot despite the fact he requested to be included. He had the option of collecting 8,000 signatures to bypass the Committee’s decision but said this would cost his campaign $300,000. He asked the Court to bypass lower courts because of the timing of the spring primary. As a Congressman, it would be hard to argue he is unknown to the media and, in addition, he received almost 20% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary. He meets the criteria as currently defined by Wisconsin law.
Attorney General Josh Kaul, a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party, wasted no time in asking the Supreme Court to reject Phillips’ request because he waited too long. There is a February 14 deadline for county clerks to deliver ballots to municipal clerks.
The Presidential Preference Selection Committee and the WEC immediately joined Kaul in his objection. They filed a joint response to the Supreme Court asking them to reject Phillips’ lawsuit because “he did nothing until the eleventh hour.” The WEC Chair and Republican appointee Don Millis responded to Phillips’ filing by acknowledging “even the most casual observer has to admit that Representative Phillips is generally advocated and recognized in the national news media throughout the nation as a candidate for President for the Democratic Party. Therefore, he meets the statutory criteria.” This didn’t stop him from asking the Court to engage in wrongdoing.
In a surprising and welcome action, the Wisconsin Supreme Court moved swiftly to order the WEC to place Dean Phillips’ name on the Democratic Primary ballot. They didn’t buy any of the arguments presented by Kaul, the Selection Committee and the WEC and made note of the 5-minute Committee meeting during which they didn’t even bother to analyze Phillips’ candidacy against the criteria in the (very flawed) existing statute. The extremely liberal and highly political Supreme Court majority is a serious threat to our freedom. They have not tried to hide their partisanship or their intent to legislate from the bench. They had to realize that allowing this blatant manipulation of the presidential election process to prop up Biden would have brought the wrath of the voters and unwanted scrutiny to the agenda they plan to inflict on the people of Wisconsin. Whatever their motivation, they got this one right.
The more we pay attention to what is going on in our state, the greater the stench of dirty Wisconsin politics. The changes the people need to make will start with a bright light on the truth. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.