Where's Waldo....um, Wanggaard? From left are Anthony DeCubellis,
John Lehman, Cory Mason, George Meyers, Bob Turner and Chris Wright
Van Wanggaard is either confident or scared.
Those are the only two explanations for the Republican state Senate candidate's absence Thursday night from a community forum that attracted six of the seven local men (another election, another shortage of female candidates) running for state office, including his opponent, state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine.
Wanggaard's absence allowed Lehman to tee off on him. In his closing remarks, Racine's incumbent senator summed up Wanggaard by describing his five-point platform as:
- Trickle down policies that benefit the rich in hopes that it will eventually the middle class and poor.
- Vague promises on government cuts with no specifics on where he'd reduce government spending.
- Concealed carry for everyone.
- Tax cuts for the wealthy
- End research on embryonic stem cells
The problem for Lehman is painting Wanggaard in extreme (though fairly accurate) terms may do little to sway voters to send him back to Madison for four years. National and local polls suggest Republicans are poised for huge gains on Tuesday, and candidates like Wanggaard may be swept along without the need to debate issues on anyone's terms but their own.
Chris Wright, left, and Cory Mason before the forum.
The candidates addressed a variety of issues from job creation to abortion and public transportation. There was a wide variety of answers thanks to the participation of three Democrats, a Republican, and two Libertarians, but discussion focused on cutting government spending and creating jobs.
Left to carry the Republican banner on his own, Wright, who is challenging Mason for the Assembly, was reserved in his stances, like a call for a streamlined state government with a long-term plan to avoid the state's continual budget crisis. He even apologized for a pro-life stance that earned an endorsement from
and Bob Turner, right
"$5.7 million to create 200 jobs isn't worth it," he said.
DeCubellis added he's not in favor of tax cuts only for businesses or the rich. "I want to give tax cuts to everyday people," he said.
Anthony DeCubellis, left
He also opened a unique line of discussion around abortion by explaining the difference between killing and murder, and then exploring the point at which we evolve from being a "vegetable" to being a "spiritual being."
Thursday's forum, though, really came down to Wanggaard's absence. Lehman used the public stage to wail on his opponent over Republican proposals to pass tax cuts for people who make more than $300,000 and to allow corporations to sneak around state tax laws.
John Lehman, right
"No jobs are created with these cuts," Lehman said. "I don't believe in this 'trickle-down stuff.'"
Wanggaard wasn't there to respond. So was he scared or confident? Probably both. He's confident he'll win Tuesday, and he was afraid to join Lehman at the forum and risk saying something that will turn voters against him.
The good news for Wanggaard is most seem to have checked out of this election. Even The Journal Times felt pulling together six of the seven candidates on next Tuesday's ballot was a ho-hum event. They didn't even bother to send a reporter. (Compared, we'd point out, to RacinePost's 100% attendance at the forum. For whatever reason we actually care about this stuff.)
So Wanggaard's probably going to win Tuesday, along with Scott Walker, Ron Johnson, and many more Republicans nationwide. Let's hope they're as responsive to the public as they've tried to be over the last six months.
Wanggaard is off to a poor start.
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