Imagine I somehow got an appointment as District Attorney in some suburban county from Gov. Jim Doyle. Hey, I’m not and will never be a prosecutor and Doyle doesn’t know me from Adam (although, spotting my name tag at a Louis Butler fund-raiser, he said he “loved” my blog), but, I said, just imagine. Appointed by a Democratic governor, I look at all these white people around me, research some obvious voting patterns and do the only reasonable thing to keep my job in the next election cycle: I identify myself as a Republican and run in the Republican primary for the fall ballot. Across the state, my friends and family lose their lunch in various wastebaskets and cancel my invitations to Thanksgiving, music benefits and various nieces’ plays and graduations.
But, you know, I’m a win-at-all costs kind of guy. I’m not going to let a little thing like an honest declaration of party affiliation come between me and the Firm Administration of the Law. Not to mention those nice health-care benefits. They just don’t elect Democrats out here. So, I suck it up, wear the flag lapel pin, attend a few Rotary Club meetings, win the primary and trounce the hapless Dem by 30 points. Four more years...four more years...After my election, I go back to my flaming lefty ways, attending rallies, promoting Democrats of all stripes and generally using my office won only because of the R next to my name to celebrate my very D-ness.
If I were try such a stunt, the high-pitched squealing from the GOP talking-pointers on wing-nut radio would be heard from here to Superior. I would be exposed county- and state-wide as the fraud I am. The campaign billboards around the county featuring my shiny white face – if not outright defaced – would be countered by giant Koch-financed boards twice as big with a singular and devastating message: Michael Plaisted Is Not A Republican! I would lose the primary soundly to a Tea Party candidate calling for torture and other forms of “instant justice” in the county jail. Radio squawkers and nut-right bloggers would demand an investigation by the state Elections, er, Government Accountability Board and my own former DA’s office (resulting in no prosecution and much hand-wringing over deceptive branding). Shamed and humiliated, I slink home to continue to undermine the criminal justice system in particular and society at-large in general from the relative safety of my secret cell of radical activists and defense attorneys.
So, if such a fate would surely befall me if I engaged in such a transparent politically cynical scheme – and rightly so – why is tea party Republican David Clarke allowed to continue to falsify his nomination papers by saying he’s a Democrat?
Clarke was appointed Milwaukee County Sheriff in the first place by long-forgotten Republican governor-temp Scott McCallum in 2002. That same year, knowing that voters in Milwaukee County would not elect anyone with an R next to their name (Scooter Walker doesn’t count – although he isn’t, the County Exec race is non-partisan), Clarke ran for a full term as a pretend-Democrat. It was soon thereafter the wolf took off the sheep’s clothing and began his regime of tyranny and law-breaking within the department. Clarke never really wanted to be Sheriff – the appointment by McCallum was just a stepping-stone by his Republican handlers to his campaign for mayor of Milwaukee in 2004.
Clarke embarrassed himself in that race, finishing a distant 3rd with 17% of the vote in the primary, despite the 24/7 cheerleading that only his buddies on right-wing talk radio can provide. Since sulking back to the sheriff’s office, he has continued to run roughshod over labor contracts and intergovernmental relations, creating a crisis of morale among the fine deputies that work for him and consternation among local law enforcement agencies, who have seen Clarke insert himself into all manner of municipal issues, declaring that he “out-ranks” chiefs of police all over the county. In the 2006 election, he maintained the “I’m a Democrat” lie, continuing the anything-to-get-elected scheme.
Again in 2010, Clarke has falsified his nomination papers and declared himself a Democrat. But there is a good chance that, this year, the arrogant, lawless sheriff will meet his comeuppance.
For one thing, the strongest candidate to ever run against him, MPD homocide supervisor Chris Moews (pronounced “Mays”, by the way) is a true Democrat, well-funded, and has the support of many in the African-American community that serves as Clarke’s base. When the issue of Clarke’s false identification as a Democrat is raised, his campaign tries to change the subject by claiming (without proof, which is par for them anyway) Moews possibly supported John McCain for president. Even if true, so what? A cop supporting a Republican for president is hardly unheard of and doesn’t mean he loses his overall Democratic affiliation and tenancies.
Unlike Clarke, Moews does not wake up in the morning bed-spooning Charlie Sykes; doesn’t spend half his day on the phone with third-rate irritants like Jay Weber and Vicki McKenna; doesn’t show up at astro-turf tea party events; doesn’t get his campaign funding from the likes of George Mitchell and Rich Graber; and doesn’t spend his evening hanging with the likes of the Conservative Young Professionals of Milwaukee. To single-issue Moews because of some suspected support of national politicians is to miss the point of his current affiliation and the need to rid the county of David Clarke entirely.
For another thing, Clarke has a practical problem running in the Democratic primary this year. Republicans going to the polls on September 14th will be most interested in choosing between a dweeb and a nob for governor in the Republican primary. Once they do that, they cannot flip the ballot over and vote in the Democratic primary for sheriff or anything else. No less than Mark Belling threw Clarke under the bus last week, advising his listeners to go ahead and vote in the Republican primary and let the sheriff twist in the wind. He even admitted that may mean Clarke loses to Moews, who Belling admitted was a solid candidate. But such are the lengths the talk-radio campaigners will go to try to get Scott Walker elected governor.
David Clarke’s very existence on the ballot as a Democrat has been a fraudulent lie for eight years now. It’s time for the Democrats of Milwaukee County to call him out and vote him out.