Jeff Fitzgerald’s tele town hall last Thursday

It could be it’s taken me nearly a week to recover from the experience. 😉

Let’s start from the beginning. There are currently three Republican candidates for the open Senate seat for Wisconsin: Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, former U.S. House member Mark Neumann, former Governor Tommy! (Thompson.) House member Tammy Baldwin is the Dem pick for the November race.

Baldwin has been able to raise some decent money as she’s the only one on the Dem ticket. The three Republican contenders are sharing the love, so to speak.

So last Thursday when Fitzgerald’s campaign called my house unexpectedly to put me into their telephone town hall, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to ask how the fundraising is going. Too bad I never had the chance.

You see, in the time I spent on the phone – more than an hour – I was cut off twice. Once, quite inconveniently, was right after I gave the moderator my question. A second time was after I complained over Twitter that I’d been dumped. I never hung up, but in the end, I was connected again just in time to hear a delightful female voice tell me good night.

I love a good conspiracy theory, but I guess I’ll just chalk this one up to bad technology. I have to ask, though, why incur the expense for this style of campaigning if it’s not reliable?

There were about 15 minutes where I was allowed in the beginning to hear some of the other questions. To be honest, the conversation read like a bad script from a B-list movie.

There was a question about the recall, which Fitzgerald encouraged.

Then he answered a question about the mining bill.

Then he answered another question about the recall.

Then another about the mining bill.

Then a man confused him with his brother in the Wisconsin Senate.

Then, finally, about 7:20 p.m. Fitzgerald made mention of his run for the U.S. Senate seat.

It felt exactly like the Tommy! announcement a few weeks ago. Either of them would be a great candidate for Governor. Neither of them seemed to give a whip out how Wisconsin fits into the national landscape.

I will contrast that to the Neumann tele town hall I sat through. Neumann was surprisingly on the mark with all his comments. And yes, if a question came through outside that mark, he skillfully maneuvered back to the primary focus of a Senate seat. Maybe it’s because Neumann spent a few years in Washington, D.C., but he appeared to manage the necessary peripheral vision better than I’ve seen from the other two contenders.

Oh, and about that fundraising. I had to go dig up the numbers, but here’s what the AP had to say at the end of January:

Fitzgerald reported Tuesday that his campaign has raised just $77,000.

Former governor Tommy Thompson has raised $656,000 and former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann collected $518,000 over the last three months of 2011.

I guess it was a good question after all.

By the way, Neumann’s campaign sent out a notice a couple of weeks ago they’d hit the million dollar mark in fundraising. New numbers won’t be available until April or so for all the candidates.

While we’re discussing it, recent polling shows all three Republican candidates can best Baldwin in the race. Two of them are outside the margin of error.

It’s a great time to lean right in Wisconsin.


  1. Of course, there’s also this poll that shows Baldwin beating all 3, with Tommy giving her by far the best challenge.

    It is hard because I really like Neumann, but if I noted for Mark and he won the nomination by one vote and then lost the general in a close race, I don’ t know if I could ever forgive myself. Especially if Tammy’s election preserved a Democratic majority.

    My vote in the primary is probably going to depend on how Tammy does over the next few months as much as anything. If she looks like she has a good chance of winning, then Tommy’s probably my guy.

  2. For some reason I can’t seem to edit anymore. “noted” should read “voted” (obviously)

  3. Keith Schmitz says:

    While I hate to pop your balloon, the way it works out is the more people get to know Tammy, the more they like her.

    Certainly not the case for Neumann or Fitz. Tommy used to be unit the pandering started.

    I’d predict that being conservative in this state is going to get to be less fun as we head into summer.

    Walker especially. Just as I thought per this morning’s MKE JS. Despite barrels of money, Walker has not moved the needle an inch. And we have just begun to start in on him.

  4. “Barrels of money.” Spent or received?

    Ryan – egads! How can two polls be so opposite?