News & notes on the Democratic Lt. Governor race

Yesterday I wrote that State Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson (D-Kaukauna) is running for the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor, and at the time I noted Nelson’s presence (or rumored presence, as it were) in the race had caused Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski to drop out of the race, and I opined that State Senator Spencer Coggs would be the next Democratic Lt. Governor candidate to drop out of the race.

However, despite my prediction, it appears Coggs is not planning on dropping out the race anytime soon. Zak Williams, the general consultant for Coggs’ Lt. Governor campaign, said Coggs believes a Milwaukee Lt. Governor candidate would actually be a boost to Barrett, despite prevailing wisdom that any gubernatorial ticket needs regional balance:

“This year’s elections are base elections. Tom Barrett needs someone on the ticket as his lieutenant governor who will help him turn out traditional Democratic voters,” Williams said. “Spencer Coggs with his base of Milwaukee votes as well as his strong connections with labor will help Tom win in November.”

While I don’t presume to be an expert on how to run a campaign for elected office, it seems really far-fetched to believe that Tom Barrett would need Spencer Coggs at the bottom of his ticket in order to turn out Democratic voters in Milwaukee. The last time I checked, Tom Barrett hasn’t had much of a problem getting Democratic voters in Milwaukee to turn out to vote for him in his past two mayoral elections, so I’m doubting Spencer Coggs’ presence on the gubernatorial ticket would make a great enough difference in Democratic turnout to warrant an all-Milwaukee ticket.

It’s been rumored Democrats are trying to clear the Lt. Governor field for Tom Nelson, but as Jack Craver notes, while the last thing the Democrats want is a spat over the “most meaningless position in state government,” a spat would probably end up being good fun for the rest of us. Personally, I’d love to see a contested Democratic primary for Lt. Governor, because I think Tom Nelson’s far from an ideal candidate, and given Nelson’s charisma deficit, he’d have a hard time beating Henry Sanders in a debate.


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3 thoughts on “News & notes on the Democratic Lt. Governor race

  1. Elections are made to be contested events. We should not have a “chosen one” take the race for their self. Primary elections are to narrow the field to either one or two candidates. We should have a healthy debate with Coggs, Nelson, and Sanders. Then, and only then, the voters—not party apparatchik—should decide who the candidate will be.

    1. Jason, I think that’s a very good point & generally I very much agree. The only thing is that Lt. Governor is a little bit of a different critter in that the person does need to work with whoever is elected Governor. We don’t elect VP, & for the same reason, I can see an argument that Lt. Gov not being elected but chosen by the winning candidate wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

      Of course this thinning of the herd has nothing to do with working with the presumptive candidate – it’s about evening out the ticket.

      By the same means, up until the late 60’s, the people of Wisconsin were free to elect a governor & Lt. from separate parties – and did on a number of occasions. I think it would make things a lot more interesting if that were still the case. 🙂

    2. Jason, I agree wholeheartedly. While I certainly see the argument for the gubernatorial candidate choosing the Lt. Governor candidate, until we have such a system in place, I’d rather let the voters choose the person they feel is best suited to the job.

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