I know. I know. You’ve been clamoring for this. You want to know my recommendations in Tuesday’s Democratic primaries and you want to know my predictions for the Republicans.
What’s that? You couldn’t care less what I think about either? And anyway, you’ve already voted?
Okay. Fine. But I’m going to tell you what I think anyway. The main newsy thing here is that the big races could be eclipsed if Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is shocked by his opponent, a Trump-backed election denier.
Let’s start at the top with the hotly contested Democratic Senate primary. I’m going to go out a limb and call this one for Mandela Barnes. Anybody want to bet on Steve Olikara? I’ll spot you 30 points. Oh, c’mon.
For Lieutenant Governor I’ll vote for Sara Rodriguez. She’s a good candidate and her surname will help turn out the Hispanic vote for Tony Evers — and the Democrats have been hemorrhaging Hispanic votes lately. She’ll win the primary easily over Peng Her, a good man but a candidate with no visible campaign.
For State Treasurer it’ll be Gillian Battino because she’s a radiologist with a bunch of money. I’ll vote for former Fitchburg Mayor Aaron Richardson because he actually has some relevant experience (he’s got an MBA), but really who cares? The job has virtually no duties even in terms of state finances, but Battino is running to protect abortion rights. If you’re confused, so am I.
For another office with no responsibilities I’m going to vote for just the right man for that kind of job, incumbent Secretary of State Doug La Follette. Doug is and has always been eccentric. But he wins and that’s why I’ll vote for him even though his opponent is actually more qualified. Alexia Sabor is Chair of the Dane County Democratic Party (a post that would not help her win votes in November) but she also holds a doctorate in forestry management. That’s relevant because the only meaningful thing this office does is occupy a seat on a commission that oversees a bunch of state-owned land. Still, who wins in November actually matters this time. That’s because some Republicans are talking about moving elections oversight to this office. If Doug’s there they won’t do that. I’m voting for Doug simply because he always wins based on name recognition alone.
With the main event, the senate primary, now a forgone conclusion, I’m sort of tempted to make some trouble in the other guys’ sandbox. I won’t because I’m really not sure which of the two leading candidates in the gubernatorial primary is better for Evers. I tend to think Tim Michels would be a bit easier to beat, but I’m not sure.
Anyway, in the primary I’m going to pick Rebecca Kleefisch to win. I had thought Michels would take it in a walk after he won the endorsements of both Donald Trump and Tommy Thompson. But the fact that the Club For Growth has been hitting Kleefisch hard with negative ads and then Michels’ own campaign jumped in as well — after he said that only “losers” run negative ads — indicates he’s in trouble. And I think his main trouble is that he’s running behind in the Milwaukee suburbs. Nobody wins a Republican primary without winning in the WOW counties. Along those lines, I think it was a mistake for Michels to bring Trump to Waukesha last Friday. Trump is popular among out-state, populist right-wingers, not country clubbers. In addition (or in subtraction for Michels), the third candidate, Tim Ramthun is as nutty an election denier as they come. He may only get a few percent of the vote, but he’ll get it from the rural, Trumpy voters that would otherwise go to Michels. I’m saying it’ll be Kleefisch by a couple of points.
For Lieutenant Governor it’ll be Roger Roth, easily. Roth is the kind of Republican who wouldn’t be crazy if his party wasn’t.
For Attorney General I’ll take Adam Jarchow over Eric Toney. That would be a little surprising since Jarchow has no prosecutorial experience and Toney is a DA. It’s hard to win a race for “top cop” if you’ve never put a bad guy in jail. But in a low information primary, money wins, and Jarchow has a lot more of it.
For Secretary of State it will be election denier Amy Loudenbeck, which is why I’m voting for La Follette.
There are also people running in the Republican primary for Treasurer. I just don’t care who they are.
And, finally, watch Robin Vos’ race against the Trump-backed Adam Steen. I’ve heard from insiders that Vos is very nervous.
The main thing is that we know it will be Barnes versus Ron Johnson in November and it will probably be Kleefisch taking on Evers, though if I were Evers I’d be pleasantly surprised if Michels prevailed.
Now, anybody want to take that Olikara bet?
And also… one race that is not statewide that bears watching is the Dem primary in the Third Congressional District in Southwest Wisconsin. There I would expect State Sen. Brad Pfaff to come out on top, but he’s facing a stiff challenge from Deb McGrath. Either candidate will be excellent, but they’ll have a tough race against Republican Derrick Van Orden, who was in the crowd (if not an active participant) in the January 6th Insurrection. The district was held down for decades by Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, who is retiring, but Kind barely survived two years ago against Van Orden, and the district went for Trump twice.