Rebuilding the GOP – Wisconsin

There’s an easy way and a hard way to do this. I’m sticking to easy for now (which is still very hard!) and may play my way through harder version, but it’s unlikely I’ll print the work. You’ll only see the Senate described because the Assembly is bigger and would take longer. (Why not do the whole thing? For one, no one’s paying me, and Republican state leadership is hopefully doing it on their own already, and next, publicly defining a playbook might be considered aiding and abetting the enemy. :))

First, and we’ll fail without it, the national Republican leadership must define a mission/vision statement as previously described. Once that’s clearly in place, the state leadership begins to craft regional messages around that vision statement.

To do so effectively, one has to define the regions for target. What did Republicans lose in 2008? Here are the Senate Results from

Open seat, previously held by a Democrat, where a Democrat won:

District 12
Holperin, Jim Dem 43,656 51%
Tiffany, Tom GOP 41,544 49%

Open seat, previously held by a Republican, that stayed Republican (by a hair!):

District 18
Hopper, Randy GOP 41,844 50%
King, Jessica Dem 41,664 50%

Tight races that stayed Republican:

District 8
Darling, Alberta (i) GOP 50,144 51%
Wasserman, Sheldon Dem 48,154 49%

District 32
Kapanke, Dan (i) GOP 45,276 51%
Johnson, Tara Dem 42,725 49%

No gains, no losses. Democrats control the Senate with 18 seats. Republicans hold 15. Two little seats are needed to swing back to Republican control. (Three would make me feel even better.) Which Democrats are vulnerable?

First, who’s up for 2010: (source is Wikipedia, I know, you hate that, but I was not about to build the list from scratch.)

Democrats, the year shows when they were first elected:

3 Tim Carpenter 2002
5 Jim Sullivan 2006
7 Jeffrey Plale 2003
15 Judy Robson 1998
21 John Lehman 2006
23 Pat Kreitlow 2006
25 Roberg Jauch 1986
27 Jon Erpenbach 1998
29 Russ Decker 1990
31 Kathleen Vinehout 2006

To choose vulnerability: Who’s new? Sullivan (5), Lehman (21), Kreitlow (23), Vinehout (31). Who’s rural? (Oops, better show you a map of the districts.) It looks like all but 5-Sullivan.

How did these four win before?

District 5
[x] Jim Sullivan (D)…27,837
Tom Reynolds (R)*…27,179

(Sullivan beat an incumbent Republican thanks to good Republicans Hank Urban and Kate Bloomberg who supported him.)

District 21
[x] John W. Lehman (D)…31,736
Bill McReynolds (R)…28,069

(Open race; took a Republican place held by Cathy Stepp – Yorkville.)

District 23
[x] Pat Kreitlow (D)…31,564
Dave Zien (R)*…30,468

(Defeated Republican incumbent.)

District 31
[x] Kathleen Vinehout (D)…31,946
Ron Brown (R)*…29,865

(Deafeated Republican incumbent.)

It’s my opinion that these are the four to be pursued. Sadly, women are always vulnerable, so Vinehout is a wise target. Both the 23rd and 31st candidates took out Republicans in a tight race. Good candidates and firm party backing should give Republicans these two back. Kreitlow in the 23rd had about $20,000 net for July 2008; Vinehout was in the hole with a $7,000 loan and $700 cash. That makes her much more vulnerable than Kreitlow.

(Update 6:30pm 11/21- the previous paragraph was changed to correct an error.)

The 5th should be restored. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) from the 14th Assembly can probably take it as long as the Republican party effectively moves the family values agenda off the map. (Unfortunately, she is vulnerable there, and Sullivan would have no problem playing that card.) Otherwise, find a strong candidate, spend the money, and put duct tape on a certain someone’s mouth. To make it more interesting, Mr. Sullivan showed about $8,000 in his campaign finance account last July. Ms. Vukmir had $18,000.

John Lehman from the 21st (including Racine) has as big a mouth as they come. He’s left plenty of rubble in his path to be used for effective weaponry. It’s also likely to be the hardest of the four to win back, so resources should only be spent if a spectacular candidate comes forward. Lehman had around $16,000 at the end of July 2008.

That’s it. If anyone retires, play like it really matters if it’s rural district. Walk away if it’s urban. (We don’t do very well there, remember?) Vet candidates fully. Find some money. Do it all now.

I didn’t even delve into which Republicans are vulnerable in 2010. Here’s the slate: (again from someone’s work on Wikipedia)

9 Joe Leibham 2002
10 Alan Lasee 1977
11 Neal Kedzie 2002
13 Scott Fitzgerald 1994
17 Dale Schultz 1991
19 Michael Ellis 1982
33 Theodore Kanavas 2001

No one’s new, so that should help. Will anyone be retiring? Seeking higher office? Are they properly feeding their financial campaign? (You can bet Kanavas is fine on that one!)

Wrap that analysis all up, spend about another 100 hours on it, and you’ve got a strategy for taking back the Senate. Do it all times three and you’ll find a strategy for the Assembly, too. It can be done, but only if Republicans want it badly enough.

Oh, and move their individual egos aside long enough to let it happen.


  1. A good first look Cindy. I’ll caution the GOP, though, that writing a Vis/Mis Statement isn’t enough. Vision Statements have to come from organizations with a vision. Mission Statements can then be written to support that vision.

    Right now RPW is wandering in the wilderness in search of a vision. There are certainly some good causes they could be looking at but I fear that they’ll fall back on the same worm-ridden planks as always.

    Good luck with that.

  2. Let me just be the first to allow you to rest easily knowing that there’s nothing you could possibly write on this blog that the “enemy” would consider valuable.

  3. Ouch!