Some are blaming the wrong people for Tim Michels’ defeat!
Republicans are reeling from the beatdown the underwhelming Tony Evers, that Mr. Peepers of governors, administered to our candidate. Despite Tim Michels’ millions of self-funded spending and favorable political headwinds, he was another casualty in the misbegotten “red-wave” election of 2022.
Rather than blame the candidate, many of those Republicans are blaming Dane County. To personalize their scapegoat they have chosen county Republican chairman Scott Grabins. The party election is February 25. Also in their cross hairs is Second District chairman Kim Babler, whose fate will be decided later. Dane County vice chair Billie Johnson is running against Babler.
To replace Grabins, a citizen volunteer, they are parachuting into Dane County an East Coast Republican operative, Brandon Maly, who is all of 23 years old. He would likely be a full-time, paid chairman. Some big names behind the newcomer are millionaire developer Terence Wall, radio shouter Vicki McKenna, and uber-lobbyist Bill McCoshen.
The latter, a former Tommy Thompson chief of staff, makes a valid point: Republicans can’t keep getting creamed here in Dane County and expect to make up for it in the Forest counties up north. How creamed? Like a can of corn! Evers racked up a 174,277-vote advantage in Dane County alone last November. Michels garnered an anemic 20.7% of the county’s vote. In the razor-close election of 2000, George W. Bush only trailed Al Gore here by 66,527. Hellz bellz! Tommy Thompson WON Dane County in 1994 against hometown boy Chuck Chvala.
Michels apologist Paris Procopis writes:
Long-time RPDC chairman Scott Grabins is fighting to maintain his position despite showing no improvement in GOP turnout during his tenure. He has been put on notice and he has a young, smart, strategic challenger with fresh ideas.— “Republican chairman has energized challenger“
The irony is that Scott Grabins was a loyal Tr•mp delegate to two national conventions and was one of the so-called "false electors" for Tr•mp 2020.
But is Scott Grabins the problem?
Republicans filled almost every Dane County ballot line last fall, fielding candidates for Congress against Mark Pocan, state senate against Diane Hesselbein, challengers in 10 Assembly districts, and for county sheriff. Pints and Politics brought Republican speakers to every corner of the county almost every other week. The annual Lincoln-Reagan dinners filled the Concourse Hotel ballroom with over 250 paying big bucks. Grabins has won honors by the state party for his leadership..
All our nominees spoke at the 08-13-22 Lincoln-Reagan dinner except … Tim Michels. Sensing trouble, the Werkes wrote shortly afterwards: “We’re going to blow this yet.”
Dane County puts up the third-most Republican votes in the state, after Waukesha and Milwaukee counties. In the primary election, Dane County went 48.9% for Becky [Kleefisch] to Michels’ 41.5%. There’s work to be done here, fences to mend, apologies to be made. Do not take Dane County for granted.
Michels did take Dane County for granted. Dan Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noticed: “Internal campaign calendar shows Tim Michels kept a light schedule late in the governor’s race.” Best we can recount, after the divisive party primary in early August (aside from private fundraising parties), Michels campaigned in Dane County on only three days, September 1 at a Pints & Politics, October 25 in the UW Humanities Building, and November 3 at bars in Middleton and DeForest.
I am wondering how a paid state party worker who isn’t even from Dane county is going to magically become a better volunteer chair than Scott Grabins?— Dane County GOP Pints & Politics coordinator Rolf Lindgren
Without naming which campaigns, Grabins said several campaigns “chose not to invest in advertising here that they did in other markets. Additionally, direct political activities by many campaigns were very limited. One major exception was Senator Johnson. His campaign invested heavily in Dane County with a regional field office, a large staff that RPDC worked closely with, and multiple visits. Senator Johnson’s efforts paid off with his victory on election night.” Johnson tallied almost 6,000 more votes in Dane County than Michels.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: “Tim Michels is already blaming Republicans,” Blaska wrote just a week after the August 2022 primary.
→ Next: the Dane County GOP struggle is a microcosm of the party’s national identity crisis.