April 24, 2009

Unraveling the charge of push polls

Last night's mayoral forum started with a bang.

John Dickert accused Bob Turner's campaign of spreading lies with robo-calls about the campaign. Dickert asked Turner to stop the "push polls." Turner said he didn't know about the calls and asked the campaign to stop them, if they're happening.

But let's unravel this a bit.

1. Turner's campaign didn't make the calls. The Greater Wisconsin Committee is running the robo-calls.

2. We haven't heard the calls, but there are suggestions that both candidates are hit during the call. We'll withold judgment until someone comes forward with a transcript or recording.

3. Here's the key, though. Even if the ads favor Turner, he can't stop them. A political campaign is not allowed to coordinate activities with a private group. That includes ordering a group to stop running ads.

4. This is why push polls are effective. Candidates can distance themselves from the tactic but still benefit from the message. That's politics today. Third-party groups can do whatever they want, and neither candidate can stop them.

5. So what's to make about the "push poll" accusations? Dickert attacking Turner at the forum Thursday night bordered on unfair. Dickert knows the rules, and he knows Turner can't work with the Greater Wisconsin Committee to start or stop the ads (that's against election rules). So calling on him to stop the ads is like asking Turner to stop commenters on RacinePost from attacking him. Turner can't control the ads.

6. I say "bordered on unfair," though, because it's hard to believe Turner or Dickert have no control over negative ads. If either was adament, they could stop a third-party group with public statements alone.

7. Regardless, it's just the latest chapter in the Turner-Dickert feud. Many will recall in 2002 it was Turner's campaign accusing Dickert of push polls.

8. So what does any of this have to do with the mayor's race? Hopefully nothing. But it could be the start of things getting a whole lot uglier ...

Note: We have a call to the Greater Wisconsin Committee to ask about the phone calls. If anyone has received a call, post what was said in the comments. If anyone happens to record the call, send it over!


  1. Not entirely true, a candidate can publicly ask for any third-party group to stop airing ads...that is not considered working with an outside group. However, those groups don't have to listen.

    I think the bigger question is, what interest does the GWC have in the Racine mayor's race. GWC is a left-leaning organization, and both candidates are self-identified Democrats. Why would they stump for one candidate over the other?

  2. They stump for Turner because they're a mouthpiece for AFSCME and AFL CIO.

    They know there are some hard choices that are going to have to be made in Racine in the coming years and Bob is pretty much a wholly-owned subsidiary of the government labor unions.

    And it's ridiculous to suggest that Turner can’t call and tell them and knock it the hell off.

  3. I find it hard to believe that Turner does not know that Greater Wisconsin is making these calls. I bet he knows of more stuff coming down the pipe.

    I got one of these calls, and to clarify, it was a live call (person on the other end) and the questions were pro-Turner and very very negative to Dickert. I half expected the woman to ask me if I heard that Dickert eats bunnies and boils children. Very very discusting.

    I am very disappointed in Bob Turner.

  4. Both and nothing more then Becker clones. Vote Jody

  5. Anon 2:36 is exactly right. AFSCME and the AFL CIO have designated Turner even though Dickert is a Dem too. It tears apart Racine Co. Dems and the Unions don't care because they are selfish.

    These calls paid for by them are just the tip of the iceberg, Turner has been paying people to canvass for him...I guess he's too busy on the floor in Madison.

    And if he is elected there is going to be one helluva return favor he'll owe them as Mayor. One I'm not sure we want to pay.

    This isn't a campaign-it's a fix.

  6. StopthemadnessNOW4/24/2009 4:07 PM

    My wife received one of these so-called survey calls Tuesday evening. It contained questions/negative statements about BOTH candidates. She was unable to ascertain which candidate may have been behind the call.

  7. Turner has my vote! He is the best of the two. He is not the one being negative.

  8. I'm sick of these A-Holes crying and complaining. I am now officially voting for Jody even though I don't want to. What a bunch of political punks! Shameful!!

  9. this whole situation is getting very ridiculous.

    where once i was adamantly opposed to jody harding, she may be the only person worth my vote now.

  10. Alright all the line of reason I have heard for voting for Jody are simply ridicules. If Jody was on the hot plate she would be whining just as hard, but she dosen't have to deal with all the negative press because she LOST!

    It is easy to say that Jody is different from Turner and Dickert because Jody is not under the magnifying glass.

  11. I agree Jody running is a joke, she would look just as dirty is she was under the "magnifying Glass". Plus everyone can look dirty once the press gets a hold of them.

    I got one of the Anti-Dickert calls too, I was not amused. All the call I received from the Dickert campaign have been nicely asking for support without ever becoming negative. Turner should be ashamed!

  12. Two feuding dudes and a crazy lady running for Mayor. Racine is so screwed.

  13. Geroge is right - Turner can ask the group to stop. In fact it would probably be in his best interest to do so.

  14. Interesting article on this "Greater Wisconsin" outfit that's running this push poll for Turner:


    The Greater Wisconsin Committee is a left-wing political virus that rears its ugly head almost every election year. Funded by unidentified special interest groups, the Committee - operating "independently" from the candidates it supports - routinely targets their opponents with the most negative campaign ads imaginable.

    Why would they care about Racine? Group has a TON of special interest cash behind it.

  15. Dickert just lost a vote. Boo Hoo Hoo.....I need my pacifier!!

    Go Turner (or Jody)!

  16. Is anyone really surprised to find out their are special interest groups trying to manipulate the outcome of an election in Racine? Worked for the school board. Stella and Joe belong on the board. I am just not surprised.

  17. Now Turner has brought in more groups to get himself elected. Does Madison want to get him elected more than Racine does?

  18. I have been following this closely. Many voters like to complain about one thing or another. Most of the complaints are driven by what they heard in the media. Here is a novel idea. Read each canidates web page, call each canidates campaign and talk to a representative or the canidate himself. Make a decision. It is not that hard. I did it and Dickert was the easy choice.