Vos Misreads Me

Well, I suppose I should at least thank Speaker Robin Vos for reading my stuff. But if the Speaker thinks that my criticisms of Gov. Tony Evers are going to help him defeat Evers in the November, 2022 general election, he’s wrong.

Here’s what Vos said according to a story yesterday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“Vos and other Republicans pointed to a blog post by former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz to argue Evers faces unrest on his left. Cieslewicz called for someone to challenge the governor in the Democratic primary because he is “wishy-washy” and a “Stockholm Syndrome Democrat” who doesn’t think strategically. 

“Vos said Evers’ decision to approve two Republican budgets since he was elected in 2018 “says to me that the guy really doesn’t stand for much. And I don’t know how you convince your base that you are worth going to fight for if in the end you always roll over.””

By saying that Tony Evers is getting criticism from his left, Robin Vos is undercutting his own party’s general election argument. (Graphic by David Michael Miller)

There are at least four problems with Vos’ attempt to use my blog against Evers.

The first is that the Republican general election playbook is to call every Democrat a socialist. The fact that Evers is getting some criticism from his left (which doesn’t necessarily include me; see below) actually helps him push back on that charge.

Second, an argument that amounts to “vote against Evers because he signed two of my budgets” isn’t one that Vos will want to make in the general.

Third, the Democratic Party isn’t going to fracture. Whoever the nominee is against whoever the Republicans put up will have the full support of the base. Evers never was the darling of party activists in the first place. They supported him because they thought he could win. They’ll do that again if he is the nominee, and nobody else can get the nomination unless they first convince Democratic primary voters that they can win in the general. Even I won’t vote for a firebrand Democrat in the primary if I don’t think that candidate can beat the Republican.

Fourth, if Vos is pointing to me as an example of “unrest on (Evers’) left”, well, maybe Robin isn’t reading my stuff after all. In fact, the whole point of this website is to make the case for center-left moderation. My problem with the Governor isn’t that he isn’t liberal enough, but that he isn’t effective enough in championing some crucial initiatives, like a nonpartisan redistricting commission. But that’s a primary race argument and not one that hurts Evers in a general election.

Vos is a smart guy and a decent strategist, but if he keeps up this line of attack, he’s going to help Tony Evers to another four years, which if the Democrats don’t offer a better choice next August, will be fine with me.

Welcome to the 154th day of consecutive posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

3 thoughts on “Vos Misreads Me

  1. It’s weird Vos makes the argument that a good governor would fight Vos’ policies. I may be politically naïve, but I don’t see how that argument helps him in any context.


  2. In my view, relegating these internal conflicts as “primary race issues” misses part of the point. A lot of damage and misguided voter sentiment can be created in primary races, especially when Democrats are embodied by a strong hard-left contingent. It’s just too easy for an opportunistic leftie to start to do damage to Evers in a primary, at a time when resources and election psychology needs to be cultivated with the general election in mind. This is why I felt Hon. Francesca Hong’s comments after the signed budget were appropriate; she stated that she opposed the budget, but supported the governor for signing it. I think she understands the need to support the governor, and perhaps is demonstrating a willingness to advocate the the harder left that winning elections involves wisdom and mindfulness; part of this is being mindful that Democrats have a noble history of forming circular firing squads in primary elections, only to watch the GOP win in the general. Unless we want another a**hat like Scott Walker in office, we need to be careful about how we go about addressing internal conflicts in the Dem party.


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