Tuesday, May 20, 2008

GOP Fails To Recruit Minority Candidates

This story was written by Jim VandeHei and Josh Kraushaar.
At a time when Democrats are poised to knock down a historic racial barrier with their presidential nominee, the GOP is fielding only a handful of minority candidates for Congress or statehouses - none of whom seem to have a prayer of victory.

At the start of the Bush years, the Republican National Committee - in tandem with the White House - vowed to usher in a new era of GOP minority outreach. As George W. Bush winds down his presidency, Republicans are now on the verge of going six - and probably more - years without an African-American governor, senator or House member.

That’s the longest such streak since the 1980s.

Republicans will have only one minority governor, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, an Indian-American, when the dust settles on the ’08 elections. Democrats have three minority governors and 43 African-American members of Congress, including one - Illinois Sen. Barack Obama - who is their likely presidential nominee. Democrats also have several challengers in winnable House races who are either black or Hispanic.

Despite having a Spanish-speaking “compassionate conservative” in the White House, Republicans’ diversity deficit seems to have only widened.

“In 1994, when I first ran, we had 14 African-American Republicans running for Congress. ... I was the only one that won that year, but we had 14, and we had some good candidates,” said former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts, one of the party’s most recognized African-American voices. “I am grateful for what Ken Mehlman did when he was RNC chairman, but I knew that wouldn’t last - that was one person. I’ve never gotten the impression that it was institutionalized.”

So who’s to blame for this diversity deficit?

Jack Kemp, the former Republican congressman and vice presidential nominee, says the culprit is clear: a “pitiful” recruitment effort by his party. “I don’t see much of an outreach,” he said. “I don’t see much of a reason to run.”

A former black GOP candidate who declined to be identified by name offered a slightly more charitable explanation. He said the party is so broke and distracted that wooing strong minority candidates is a luxury it simply cannot afford right now.

Congressional staffers contacted for reaction on this issue did not want to comment but were clearly uneasy with the party’s all-white slate of viable candidates.

In all fairness, Republicans have never been very good at attracting strong minority candidates, especially African-Americans. Only four black Republicans - Watts, former Massachusetts Sen. Edward Brooke, former Connecticut Rep. Gary Franks and the late Illinois Rep. Oscar Stanton De Priest - have been elected to Congress since Reconstruction.

The party has done slightly better with Cuban-Americans and Hispanics in recent years - Cuban-American Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida recently served as RNC chairman. But the GOP remains a white-dominated party elected overwhelmingly by white voters.

Another mitigating factor for the party is that this has been a terrible year overall for GOP recruitment, as exemplified in the 0-for-3 Republican streak in special elections in recent weeks. The dilemma is simple: Who wants to run when the Republican brand is so unpopular and money is so scarce?

Still, the recruitment failure is striking when you consider the recent history of the GOP on this issue. It was not long ago - 2005, to be precise - that Mehlman, then the RNC chairman, grabbed headlines with a major speech on diversity before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“Republicans are committed to inclusion,” he told the group’s national convention. “I’m here four years before the next presidential election asking for your help. Inclusion means you work together to recruit candidates, not surrogates to speak on their behalf.”

Mehlman was far from alone. President Bush dedicated significant time in the early years of his presidency to reaching out to African-Americans with countless speeches on education and faith-based initiatives directed at minority communities. He aggressively appointed prominent blacks to his Cabinet, including two secretaries of state: Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

Bush sometimes broke into Spanish as he called for immigration laws providing illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, a hot topic in Hispanic communities.

The efforts, of course, were designed to attract voters - not just candidates - into the GOP fold. And the moral of the story is that the party clearly failed.

Some party insiders point to 2006 as the specific proof that diversity efforts may sound great but are still impractical and electorally unrewarding for the GOP.

During that cycle, Mehlman and GOP leaders talked a number of attractive black candidates into running for important seats: Michael Steele of Maryland, for the Senate; and Lynn Swann of Pennsylvania and Ken Blackwell of Ohio, for governor.

Scores of stories were written about the Republicans’ new plan to win tough seats with well-funded minority candidates.

Then they all lost badly. The election results in their respective states showed that they hardly made any inroads - even in the heavily African-American parts of the states they were running in. Swann was later asked to run for the House, and he declined.

Suddenly, the argument for minority outreach seemed to lack the underpinning of any successful political strategy: the ability to produce more votes.

The exit polling data for House races in 2006 showed the depth of the GOP’s outreach crisis. Republican candidates won 11 percent of the black vote and 30 percent of the Hispanic vote.

However, Watts, for one, rejects the argument that Republicans can’t compete for minority votes or successfully recruit minority candidates. He argues that the party simply hasn’t tried hard enough.

“Unless you have an infrastructure to build off of, it’s all throwing mud at the wall and hoping that some of it sticks,” said Watts. “There’s an entire infrastructure that needs to be thought through, and it seems to me no one is interested in building that.”

By Jim VandeHei and Josh Kraushaar
Copyright 2008 POLITICO

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


State Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, today endorsed Barack Obama for president, becoming the latest Wisconsin superdelegate to back the Illinois senator.

Taylor, a superdelegate because of her position as first vice chair of the state Dem Party, said in a statement released by the Obama campaign that her recent unsuccessful campaign for Milwaukee County executive made her “more aware then ever of the need to galvanize, motivate and inspire political participation by every member of society.”

“He’s awakened a sleeping giant -- the people.“ she said in the statement.

Earlier this week, UW-Madison student Awais Khaleel, a superdelegate because of his position with College Democrats, announced his support for Obama.

With Khaleel and Taylor now supporting him, Obama has the backing of 11 Wisconsin superdelegates.

Two support Hillary Clinton, while three remain undecided. Those who have not backed anyone included U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl of Milwaukee and Russ Feingold of Middleton, along with Feingold staffer Paula Zellner.

Feingold has said he was inclined to support Obama and voted for him in Wisconsin’s Feb. 19 primary but has not official pledged his super delegate vote to Obama.

Legislature to Close Wal-Mart Loophole

The State Senate took the lead today to end the loophole that lets Wal-Mart and other big corporations evade $15 million annually by exploiting the state tax law (and the taxpayers).

Under the tax evasion scheme, tells the Institute for Wisconsin's Future, Wal-Mart would have one part of its business pay another part of the biz for rent allowing it to "reduce" its Wisconsin profits and consequently, reduce the amount of money it's required to provide the taxpayers of Wisconsin.

As part of the budget repair bill, Senate Dems voted to close loophole and save the people of Wisconsin the $15 million it costs to give Wal-Mart et al this ridiculous tax giveaway.

Wal-Mart is already bilking the taxpayers of Wisconsin by having over 1,200 employees and their dependants get health care through BadgerCare at a cost of $2.7 million.

Hopefully, closing this loophole will be part of a long-term effort to restore sane and progressive tax policy to the state of Wisconsin.

OWN has previously called for restoration of the estate tax, which ended this year. If you haven't signed our petition on that yet, click here to take action today.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Downtown a Cost-Effective and Time-Efficient Alternative for UWM Expansion

A recent analysis by UWM Downtown shows that a downtown location for the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s expansion would be between $23-28 million less to construct and
could be finished in a more timely manner than the currently contemplated County Grounds
site in Wauwatosa.
First, downtown Milwaukee has all of the infrastructure in place needed for development, such
as roads, sewer, water, stormwater management and telecommunications. Constructing that
infrastructure on undeveloped land in Wauwatosa would cost between $15-20 million. In
addition, excess land would have to be purchased in Wauwatosa for freeway buffers and
stormwater management. In downtown, less land would need to be purchased, saving
additional financial resources. As a result, UWM would be able to spend their limited funds on
actual school buildings, research facilities and chair endowments instead of land purchases and
infrastructure. Downtown would also allow shared parking opportunities, whereas in
Wauwatosa, all parking would be used solely for UWM and left underutilized in off-peak
times. A chart explaining these costs in more detail can be found online at:
Second, not only will UWM have to spend less time raising money to begin construction, with
all of the infrastructure in place, they can begin construction of school buildings immediately.
There would be little public opposition to students moving into the downtown area and there
are little environmental concerns with a downtown location. As a result, the public hearing
process would be smooth.
Dave Reid of UWM Downtown says, “It is important to the Milwaukee region’s economy that UWM increase its research capacity as soon as possible and it is important to the taxpayers of
Wisconsin that UWM chooses a cost-effective location.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Miller Park second in SI fan survey

The Business Journal of Milwaukee

When it comes to enjoying a day at the ballpark, Miller Park in Milwaukee is almost the best place to be, according to a new fan survey from SI.com.

The Milwaukee Brewers' home field ranked second only to Cleveland Indians' Progressive Field in the survey of thousands of Major League fans conducted by Sports Illustrated's Web site.

The online survey was conducted in March and asked fans to rate their ballparks in 10 categories, including affordability, food quality, team quality, atmosphere, hospitality, traffic and neighborhood. Miller Park ranked first in food quality and in the quality of the promotions.

The home fields for the Brewers' division, the National League Central, fared well in the survey, with three making the top five. PNC Park, home to Brewers' rival Pittsburgh Pirates, ranked third. Comerica Park, home of the American League's Detroit Tigers, ranked fourth, followed by the NL Central's St. Louis Cardinals' Busch Stadium III.

Barbara Walters to visit Milwaukee Press Club

MILWAUKEE, WI – Barbara Walters, one of the most important woman in the history of broadcast journalism, will visit the Milwaukee Press Club on Thursday, May 29th as part of her nation-wide book tour for her new memoir, Audition. Ms. Walters will be signing copies of her book for readers beginning at 12:30 p.m. at the Newsroom Pub, 137 E. Wells Street.

This MPC members-only event will begin with registration and a buffet lunch at Noon. Each current member is allowed to bring one non-member guest. The cost for the event is $20 per person, and includes lunch.

In Audition (published by Alfred A. Knopf), Ms. Walters writes with candor about her private life and professional career, reflecting on the choices she has made, the work she has done, the people she has met, the heartbreak she has faced, and the challenges she has coped with and overcome.

“Young people starting out in television sometimes say to me: ‘I want to be you,’” Walters writes in Audition. “My stock reply is always: ‘Then you have to take the whole package.’” Walters also talks about the extraordinary range of interviews she has conducted during her forty years on the air, and speaks with candor about the television industry and how it has changed.

“Barbara Walters is a totemic figure in the world of broadcast news,” said Sonny Mehta, Chairman of Alfred A. Knopf, “and her long-awaited memoir is striking for its honesty and √©lan. Her story is fascinating, inspiring and altogether riveting, and I am certain her candor about both her good fortune and travails will prove especially resonant with readers.”

The first printing for Audition has been set at 550,000 copies, and an exclusive excerpt from the book will appear in Vanity Fair magazine. Oprah Winfrey will conduct the first broadcast interview with Barbara Walters in concert with the release of the book: the interview is scheduled to air on Oprah Tuesday, May 6.

Copies of Audition will be available to purchase at this event. Ms. Walters will be available to sign copies of her book Audition only, but due to time limitations, she will not be able to personalize. If you bring a camera, please be aware that photos may only be taken by a designated press club photographer; and no video cameras are allowed.

Registration and lunch will begin at Noon. Ms. Walters will speak briefly beginning promptly at 12:30 p.m. The book signing will begin immediately following her comments and end at 1:30 p.m.

Advance registration is required and space is limited. Members may register on-line at www.milwaukeepressclub.org or by calling Joette Richards at 262-894-2224. Payment must be made in advance to reserve your space. Checks may be mailed to the MPC at PO Box 223, Hales Corners, WI 53130-0223; or credit cards will be accepted when registering on line or by calling Joette.