The most interesting man in WI politics
Republicans just picked up another congressional seat in Wisconsin on their way to taking the gavel away from Nancy Pelosi next year. (The GOP need only flip 5 out of 435.) That would make six of Wisconsin’s eight House seats in the Republican column.
Incumbent Democrat Ron Kind announced Tuesday 08-10-21 he has “run out of gas.” Can’t blame him. Campaigning for election every two years in the last 24 years would wear out a Clydesdale draft horse.
May well be that Kind read the writing on the proverbial wall. (Not that Democrats believe in walls.) Last year, the incumbent beat his Republican opponent — a first-time office seeker — with only 51.3% of the vote. Just four years previous, Kind had no opposition whatsoever in his La Crosse-based Third district.
His 2020 opponent never quit campaigning. Lanky and whiskered like The Most Interesting Man in the World, Derrick Van Orden dominates any stage, on contrast to the bland, centrist Ron Kind. (Like Gov. Tony Evers, a nice guy. Really … just … Nice.)
Van Orden emceed the Republican state convention in June and stole the show, quipping perceptively and segueing effortlessly between speakers. Indeed, D.V.O. has appeared in motion pictures with Jon Voight (a kindred soul) and Nicholas Cage. (One of his efforts is the 2012 Act of Valor.) Dane County Republicans are featuring D.V.O. at their annual Lincoln-Reagan dinner August 21. That Madison sits in the Second District, not the Third, speaks to the man’s star power (and paucity of “out” Republicans hereabouts).
The guy is in the mold of Ron Johnson but with major military cred — he is a retired, 21-year Navy Seal with five combat deployments. Describes himself as “American patriot, retired Navy SEAL, husband, father, grandfather and Christian.” He’s Build the Wall, Back the Blue, American First, and Covid-19 “masks optional.” In other words, he’s got the Trumpies.
→ Which is good because Trump won the 3rd District in 2016 by 4.5 percentage points over Hillary Clinton and by 4.7 points in 2020 even as Trump lost the state to Joe Biden. (If he lost.)
Nice guys finish …
Kind, on the other hand, is that vanishing breed: a moderate. Good gummint goo-goos love the species but moderates excite no one, by definition. Particularly in today’s Pick-a-Side political landscape. Progressives will put up a Woke candidate in the mold of Mark Pocan and the Squad, thus ensuring a Van Orden victory.
→ Kind’s big bow-out puts us in mind of Dave Obey calling it quits after 42 years, also after reading the tea leaves, in 2010. Northern Wisconsin’s 7th district has been a Republican satrapy ever since.
Indeed, the Five-Thirty-Eight website rates western Wisconsin’s Third District as “leans Republican.” (Click “Old Maps.”)
Blaska’s Bottom Line: When health care workers demonstrate against Covid restrictions in Madison WI (Health care workers!), you know the game is afoot. As if urban crime, the assault on the southern border, critical race theory, free college, and expensive gasoline were not enough.