I Know I Promised, BUT: Theo Lipscomb Is Back In The News!

I thought I was done with the County Executive Race until the April general election. And I know I promised that I wasn’t going to post anything more about signatures or nomination papers…unless…there was some big new news. And…unfortunately, there is!

Today Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb used some of the same contracted circulators as Rep. David Crowley, Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy, and former state senator Jim Sullivan. Chair Lipscomb got Mayor Kennedy and Mr. Sullivan bumped from the ballot after the questionable signatures were removed from their nomination papers and they no longer had the minimum required to be included on the ballot.

Mr. Bice reports that Chair Lipscomb only had 331 questionable signatures and reported them to the election commission. But unlike the other candidates, if those signatures had been removed, he still had sufficient qualified signatures and would be on the ballot anyway.

So no harm, no foul? Well, you all know how I feel if you’ve read my posts in the past several weeks. But some pertinent points from Mr. Bice:

So how surprising would it be to find out that Lipscomb outsourced the job of collecting some of his own signatures and even ran afoul of the same election rule he wielded against Sullivan and Kennedy? That law prohibits candidates from using circulators who earlier worked for another campaign (editor’s note: in the same race).  

But that’s precisely what Lipscomb did. He is one of four candidates vying to replace Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who is not running for re-election. 

A review of Lipscomb’s nominating papers shows that he used three of the same circulators that state Rep. David Crowley did.

The circulators worked first for Crowley and then Lipscomb, meaning the signatures they collected for Lipscomb shouldn’t have counted. In all, those three circulators gathered 331 signatures for Lipscomb. 

Removing those signatures wouldn’t have been enough to knock Lipscomb off the ballot. The deadline for challenging nomination papers is long past. 

Now, this next bit won’t shock any of you…nor me…since Mayor Kennedy is a pretty vocal and outspoken individual:

But the issue was enough to raise the ire of Kennedy, who said he was “shocked” to find out that Lipscomb was guilty of the same offense that he used against Kennedy and Sullivan. 

“Lipscomb‘s hypocrisy is appalling,” Kennedy said. “He held other candidates to a standard that his own campaign violated.”

And then this quote…and I call bullshit on this one. Otherwise we apparently just have another careless and entitled politician…and we don’t need anymore of those:

Reached last week, Lipscomb said he was aware that he had some signatures collected by overlapping circulators, though he didn’t know the full extent of the problem

emphasis mine

And Mr. Bice doesn’t indicate how Chair Lipscomb came to have overlapping circulators with Rep. Crowley, Mayor Kennedy, or Mr. Sullivan. But the other three all hired community organizer Simon Warren, owner of the Sweet Black Coffee shop. And again, I suggest that Mr. Warren, if not open to criminal charges, is at risk of having civil charges brought by those candidates removed from the ballot.

But is that the only news about Chairman Lipscomb? Well, no. There’s a little opinion piece over at Urban Milwaukee by Bruce Murphy which is actually about the rise of Rep. David Crowley in the exec race, but has something to add about the moves made by Chair Lipscomb!

It seemed like a master stroke by County Board Chair Theo Lipscomb in his race for Milwaukee County Executive: Lipscomb’s legal challenge of the nomination papers of Jim Sullivan and Bryan Kennedy was upheld by the state Election Commission and then the courts, wiping out two of his key opponents.

Kennedy, as Glendale mayor, overlapped part of Lipscomb’s county supervisor district, leaving them likely to divide the North Shore vote. And Sullivan, a Milwaukee county department head and former state legislator, had gotten the maximum possible contribution from retiring County Executive Chris Abele, no fan of Lipscomb, who might have been expected to spend big through his third party Leadership Milwaukee group to elect Sullivan.  

But as it turned out, the real beneficiary of Lipscomb’s move was candidate David Crowley, the Democratic Assembly Representative. Because Kennedy quickly moved to endorse Crowley for county executive while offering what might seem like a slap at Lipscomb: “We can trust that David Crowley will be putting the people first — not his own ambition — as our next Milwaukee County Executive.”

One day later we learned that Abele had switched to supporting Crowley, with his Leadership Milwaukee group making a six-figure ad buy for Crowley, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

In short, Lipscomb had assured that rather than a vote split between six candidates, it would now be down to just four candidates, with much of the backing for Kennedy and Sullivan now combined to support Crowley. 

Whoops…

The primary is this coming Tuesday, February 18th. If you haven’t voted during the current early voting period, get out and make your choice known!

We are happy with our endorsement of State Senator Chris Larson!!!

Endorsement For MKE County Executive: Senator Chris Larson

I am endorsing Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson for Milwaukee County Executive. Normally, I’d wait until we were a bit closer to the primary election on February 18th. But with all of the kerfluffle around the race, I thought it best to put this out there now.

Senator Larson is probably the best suited candidate for the office that we’ve had in decades…certainly more qualified that the two previous incumbents.

Sen. Larson knows what it takes to run Milwaukee County government. He knows where the problems are and has the energy and contacts to address them effectively. His time as a county supervisor will serve him well.

His time in the state senate should also be a big plus. We all know that the state government has been negligent in supporting Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, and the general environs. He should be able to leverage some of his experience in Madison to help Milwaukee County prosper.

Over his entire career, Sen. Larson has worked with a great number of other local politicians to get things done…and many of those friends in government have endorsed him. Those connections will work to his advantage.

It looks like his first item of business will be to push the Fair Deal for Milwaukee County back to the forefront and get the sales tax referendum on track and on a ballot before the voters! Hopefully his support in Madison and locally will allow him to get that moving again.

So, I urge you to vote for Chris Larson for Milwaukee County Executive on February 18th, 2020!

You Won’t Be Voting for Sullivan or Kennedy in the MKE County Executive Race

After filing an appeal to the decision from the Wisconsin Elections Commission removing them from the Milwaukee County ballot for County Executive, Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy and Jim Sullivan got their second bit of bad news today. The Milwaukee County Circuit Court hearing the appeal decided that they shouldn’t be reinstated on the ballot. That pretty much kills their chances for this round and kicks the county electorate in the teeth by limiting their choices in the February primary.

Judge keeps 2 disqualified Milwaukee County executive candidates off the ballot

“This is going to be the end of the case,” attorney Michael S. Maistelman said before the hearing. “What the judge decides today will dictate whether the candidates are put back on the ballot or remain off.”

An appeal would be a moot point, unless the Court of Appeals takes action, because the ballots have to be printed, said Maistelman, who represents Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb Sr. Lipscomb, who is also a county executive candidate, challenged the signatures that Sullivan and Kennedy filed and has pushed for their removal from the ballot.

County Executive Candidates Are Making My Decision Easier

(editor’s note: I started this article over the weekend but the news this afternoon has an effect on what I am writing. I intend to stick with my original thoughts as much as possible and add the newest info at the end)

After incumbent County Executive, Chris Abele, announced that he wasn’t running for re-election, I don’t think many county watchers were surprised that we ended up with seven candidates: State Senator Chris Larson (who lost to Abele in 2016), County Board Chair Theo Lipscomb, State Representative David Crowley, Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy, Director of Milwaukee County Child Support Services Jim Sullivan, area business woman Purnima Nath, and Milwaukee County Transit System bus driver Yaghnam F. Yaghnam.

Now, I know four of these gentlemen (Larson, Lipscomb, Crowley and Kennedy) and would consider any of them to be qualified for County Executive, when this happened:

After you decide to run for public office…the next big hurdle is collecting signatures on nomination papers to get on the ballot. And dependent on which office you are seeking, the number of signatures varies. Generally the larger the geographic area represented, the larger number of signatures you need. For county executive that number is 2,000. A rule of thumb that I was given when I ran for MPS school board was to get twice the minimum (or the maximum if there is a limit). Then if any of your signatures are challenged, hopefully you have enough to spare. Typically larger campaigns contract for help in gathering signatures. And it is not unusual for campaign staff to review an opponents nomination papers for irregularities.

And apparently there is a Wisconsin election law that prohibits candidates for the same office from using the same hired solicitors. Not sure what the logic is here but it is an existing law. AND Mr. Lipscomb’s campaign found that three of his opponents used the same people to collect signatures.

Specifically, three campaigns appear to have used some of the same people to collect signatures to get them on the February primary ballot — contrary to state election law. Those circulating nomination papers for a candidate sign a statement saying they intend to support that particular candidate. 

emphasis mine

BUT?

He (Lipscomb) is asking the Milwaukee County Election Commission to toss hundreds of signatures from the nomination papers for former state Sen. Jim Sullivan and Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy and possibly knock them off the ballot. 

Where is the third candidate???

Signatures for three candidates — state Rep. David Crowley, Kennedy and Sullivan — were collected by some of the same people, sometimes even on the same day. 

So why isn’t there a move to toss signatures from Rep. Crowley’s papers as well? Well apparently he got lucky and he was the first one whose papers were circulated by the miscreants:

The law says if a circulator collects nomination papers for two candidates for the same office, the papers with earlier signatures are considered valid. The later ones are rejected.   

That would benefit Crowley because the circulators gathered all of their signatures for him before doing so for Sullivan and Kennedy. 

So right now, I am more than a bit pissed off at Crowley and Kennedy. They are both extremely experienced politicians and should know the rules. But for this kind of carelessness, I need to write them off. Mr. Sullivan as well, although he wasn’t on my short list to start with.

And then there’s Mr. Lipscomb. Although he has the law on his side, this seems like an extremely petty political maneuver. Particularly after losing his initial complaint with the Milwaukee County Election Commission (more on that later in another blog…that organization is ridiculous). They allowed Mr. Sullivan and Mayor Kennedy to stay on the ballot.

But then he appealed to the state Elections Commission. And this is where we are as of noon today:

The state Elections Commission on Tuesday ordered the removal of two Milwaukee County executive candidates from the ballot over an issue with their nomination papers.

The commission ordered that the names of former state Sen. Jim Sullivan and Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy not appear on the ballots of the Feb. 18 primary or the April 7 spring election.

So now Sullivan and Kennedy may appeal this decision. But they better be damn quick about it because ballots are about to be printed. They did in essence violate an election law…unwittingly…and without intent to defraud…and probably without their knowledge.

And they may have a different legal leg to stand on:

The full six-member commission didn’t vote on the matter — staff made a recommendation to Administrator Meagan Wolfe. She consulted with Commission Chair Dean Knudson, who approved the decisions. 

What? The full commission didn’t vote? The Commission Chair has the right to apply a law and decide when someone has broken it? To remove candidates from a ballot? Solo? Overriding the wishes of the electorate? Then what’s the point of having a commission?

So, I will have additional posts about this process. While we are worrying about gerrymandering and voter suppression, it seems like the commissions that actually run and control the election process are rogue commissions.

And what do you tell the 4000+ registered Milwaukee County voters who signed nomination papers in support of Kennedy and Sullivan? So sorry, you got screwed?

And Lipscomb, Kennedy, and Sullivan can count on NOT getting my endorsement.