Kevin Shibilski gearing up for challenge to Sean Duffy

On Tuesday I wrote about Democratic State Senator Pat Kreitlow’s announcement that he’ll challenge incumbent Rep. Sean Duffy in the 7th Congressional District in 2012. At the time I noted it was likely Sen. Kreitlow wouldn’t be the only Democrat running to unseat Rep. Duffy, as former Democratic State Senator and Tourism Secretary Kevin Shibilski (pictured) seems to be laying the groundwork for a run.

According to a source, Shibilski is “currently assembling a team and seriously considering a run,” and as former elected official who won seven Portage County Elections and three State Senate elections (which included Portage and the surrounding counites) and who has been a successful businessman since leaving public service, Shibilski will no doubt present a formidable challenge to Sen. Kreitlow. It’s no secret Shibilski strongly considered a run in the 7th CD in 2010, only to step aside under what I can only presume was intense pressure to hand the Democratic nomination to State Sen. Julie Lassa, who ultimately lost to Sean Duffy in November. At the time he announced he wouldn’t run for former Rep. Dave Obey’s seat, Shibilski said, “I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I wish there had been more time and a more open process to select a candidate,” and I’ve been told Shibilski doesn’t want another “anointment” like the one that took place in 2010.

While I understand why Dave Obey, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin would like to see the Democratic field cleared for State Sen. Kreitlow to make a run at unseating Rep. Duffy, I’d like to see a contested Democratic primary. A contested Democratic primary will no doubt get Democrats in the 7th CD energized and active, both of which will be absolutely necessary if any Democrat is going to beat Sean Duffy in November 2012. What’s more, I’ve never been a fan of “anointing” candidates and clearing the field for said candidates, because I believe voters should be given a choice on who they want to represent them, rather than having their candidates picked behind the scenes by party operatives and power brokers.


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50 thoughts on “Kevin Shibilski gearing up for challenge to Sean Duffy

  1. Have the Dem Party and Obey endorsed Kreitlow already? I did some googling but can’t find anything and there’s no link above.

      1. Hey Steve – I was mostly just asking a factual question (not trying to start a fight), but are any other potential candidates (like Shibilski or anyone else) speaking at the convention?

          1. At the Founders Dinner last night, Mike Tate did his damndest to promote the heck out of Sen. Kreitlow as the man who’s going to take down Rep. Duffy in 2012.

            1. Tate needs to be taken down several pegs as under him, the state Dems have gone into fear mode over having more than one person stand for any office.

          2. Hey Steve, thanks for the reply. I just talked to a friend who went to the 7th CD Dem Convention and it sounds like Shibilski and Kreitlow both spoke. Maybe this “annointing” conspiracy is all just being overthought? Outside of Zach saying here that Kreitlow, who is the only announced candidate, being promoted at a Democratic dinner, I’d just like to see more evidence of this conspiracy being “pretty clear” before I jump on the bandwagon.

            All that aside, I do need to do more research on Shibilski if he does end up entering the race because it seems like it’s been a long time since he was in the Senate. Does anyone here have any particularly good places to look?

            1. Did you read Zach’s comment about Tates speech at the Founders dinner last night? It doesn’t sound like he mentioned anyone other than Kreitlow.

              1. He didn’t mention anyone other than Kreitlow.

                Obviously there’s no proof of a “conspiracy” other than the public comments made by the Chairman of the DPW, but one only needs look at how Julie Lassa was chosen by party insiders to be the Democratic candidate to oppose Sean Duffy to know that the DPW isn’t keen on contested primaries involving their preferred candidates.

                1. Not just Lassa. There were other places the DPW pulled this junk, and I worry that it will filter down into local races (let the right pick someone, we’ll back one and keep everyone else out rather than flood the field at the start and unite after the primary). Is the DPW afraid of their candidates getting a little mud on their shoes/clothes and taking some nicks on the campaign trail?

                2. Hey Zach and Steve – I just can’t find anywhere on the Internet saying Shibilski or anyone else has actually jumped into the race yet (tell me if I’m wrong)…and why wouldn’t the Dem Chair say positive things about the only guy who has jumped in? It’d be kind of weird if he didn’t, wouldn’t it? I’m sure that if other people got in, he’d just say nice things about all of them.

                  1. Jack,

                    What’s weird is that Shibilski spoke at the 7th CD but that Tate didn’t mention his name last night. That’s kind of weird.

                    1. Hey Steve – I apologize, I wasn’t as detailed in my comments above as I should have been. My friend who was at the 7th CD said Shilbilski spoke but did not mention running for Congress.

                      I asked this above, but do you or Zach have any good background on Shibilski? You both seem to be supportive so may know more than I do…is he a good progressive?

                  2. Again, let’s not forget that the DPW and Dave Obey picked Julie Lassa to run against Sean Duffy. They didn’t want a contested Democratic primary in 2010 and they don’t want one in 2012.

                    1. Hey Zach, I have to admit I’m growing a little frustrated with this string of comments. I keep asking for some evidence that Shibilski is being shoved aside, but there’s not much coming back.

                      Also, is your point that you want a primary no matter what or that you want a primary between two good progressive candidates? That’s sort of why I asked you and Steve if Shibilski was a progressive and for more information about his record in the Senate, to which you seem to have deferred.

                      I guess I’m starting to feel like the more I try to dig into what you’re saying, the less I’m finding.

            2. Jack,

              I hope we’re all wrong and have, as you say, ” overthought” things. I’d like to believe the Democratic Party values democracy.

            3. I’m a little late weighing in but just discovered this blog. I was at the 7th CD convention it was clear to me that Kreitlow is the party favorite. One indication was the fact that Kreitlow for Congress signs were passed out. When he spoke, Kreitlow was introduced as the congressional candidate. Shibilski was introduced as a former officeholder.

      2. Seriously, Steve, no reason to get bitter here. I’ve been googling periodically throughout the afternoon, but I don’t find a great deal about Shibilski (probably because he left the Senate before people were as active online). There are some things that raise questions for me, but I’d rather not get into that sort of thing because I don’t know all the facts. That’s why I’m asking for background from you or Zach.

        1. Jack, there are things in Shibilski’s past that he’ll most definitely have to answer for, but I believe he’s as progressive – if not more – than Pat Kreitlow.

  2. You hit every major point that I argue about with the left. I am against anointing candidates, I am against the “entitlement” rationale that some candidates have, and I HATE uncontested races. The right at least lets their candidates get after it rather than avoid primaries out of fear.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly Zach. As a progressive democrat in the 7th CD, I can tell you that there were a lot of people upset with how Obey left office, how Lassa was chosen to run, and her failure to articulate a progressive vision during her campaign.

    I can’t speak for the southeastern end of the district, but I can tell you that democrats and independents in the northwestern half want a candidate who displays honesty and integrity, who intends to go to congress to vote to bring the wars to an end, who supports inclusion of a public option in the ACA, who will fight to preserve Medicare and Social Security as they are, and who favors a progressive tax code.

    All of these positions are clearly articulated in the DPW platform and resolutions, and appear to have broad support among the American people as a whole, so it shouldn’t be too hard for any democrat running for congress to get behind them.

  4. I wonder if Glenn Beck has endorsed Duffy yet?

    The first time I saw Sean Duffy in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, he told a delighted Tea Party crowd of several hundred that he was a big Glenn Beck fan, and that he T-VO’d Becks program so he could watch it when he came home from work.

    Funny, Duffy never mentioned Glenn Beck at his recent Shell Lake town hall meeting, likely because the morbidly cynical and dangerously un-hinged Beck has finally been driven from Fox News by the sheer force of whatever collective common sense still exists in America.

  5. @Carlson…how’s the Noble Prize winning economist doing these days? That was a good laugh. You should do stand-up.

    1. Ahhh yes, another “let’s put our political opponents in the crosshairs” kind of wingnut who feels the passive-aggressive need to put his/her violent Second Amendment remedies fantasies into their screen name. . .

      “[D]onkeyhunter”? Seriously? (*laughing*) As Steve noted, the moniker, “jackass”, is probably more appropriate.

      In any event, since you felt the need to derisively invoke Paul Krugman for “God only knows” what reason, here’s the latest [and since you asked, I guess Krugman’s doing pretty damn well]:

      Per a recently released Hamilton College study, KRUGMAN IS THE BEST PROGNOSTICATOR [sorry about the big word, jackass, uh, I mean, donkeyhunter], CAL THOMAS IS THE WORST.

  6. Look Jack, or Mike, or Graeme, or whatever your real name is, let’s not play cutesy. Shibilski spoke at the 7th CD convention because he’s running for Congress.

    How hard would it have been for Tate to mention his name at last nights dinner in Milwaukee?

    And since this is a topic of such keen interest to you, why don’t you research Shibilski yourself and get back to us with a full report? You seem to have some connections in the Dem party.

  7. Seriously, Steve, no reason to get bitter here. I’ve been googling periodically throughout the afternoon, but I don’t find a great deal about Shibilski (probably because he left the Senate before people were as active online). There are some things that raise questions for me, but I’d rather not get into that sort of thing because I don’t know all the facts. That’s why I’m asking for background from you or Zach. Sorry, too, I meant to post this year but accidentally did above.

  8. If my remark seems bitter you must be a mighty touchy fellow. Irked, annoyed, slightly aggravated, maybe, but bitter? Hmmm.

    Ask your friend from the 7th CD. Maybe he knows something.

  9. Hey Steve, look, all I’m asking for here is a little more background about a potential candidate that you appear to support. And I’ve asked several times after. If you don’t have anything about his views on the issues, just tell me and I’ll wait like everyone else until he has a website or the press digs in more.

    1. Jack, at the risk of speaking for Steve, I think he’s enthusiastic about the possibility of Shibilski entering the race because he’ll offer voters a choice from Kreitlow, who appears to be the candidate the DPW is supporting.

      1. sometimes when the DPW anointed candidate gets a free ride, they tend to run to the center right to try and win the election. Then they tend to never have the title of “congressman”

  10. I never wrote I supported him. You’re the one with the keen interest in his politics, so ask your friend in the 7th CD what he/she thinks and let us know.

  11. Steve, it’s obvious that both you and I have an interest in progressive politics. Otherwise neither of us would be here. I’d really like to know more about anyone who runs for any office, so if you find out more, I hope you’ll share it on BloggingBlue. I’m also just not a fan of rumors, though, and that’s why I have asked several times for more evidence what Zach alleges.

    However, it’s clear this isn’t really going anywhere…so I’ll just wish you the best and thank you for the work you did to hold Sean Duffy accountable at his town hall.

    1. Oh and Jack, I’m hoping to be able to have an interview with Shibilski sometime in the very near future so that I can get some concrete answers to the questions you (and I) have regarding his politics.

        1. And I will say I understand your skepticism regarding some of the things I’ve asserted regarding the inner workings of the party when it comes to “choosing” their preferred candidates, but I’m speaking from past experience as well as what I do know of the current race.

    2. Jack,

      Yoou should have said right away you think this blog is spreading unfounded rumors! We could have avoided this lenghty exchange. you’re so sneaky! 🙁

  12. Have you commented on blogging Blue in the past? I’m relatively new here but I don’t remember you until just today. What is it that’s peaked your interest now?

    1. You’re such a conspiracy theorist, Steve! 🙂 Zach has promised to try to get more info (above) so I’m happy to wait to see what he has to say…

  13. Thank you to all the commenters. I think this is brilliant. I have grown upset more and more over the last months with Party structure in Wisconsin (its the state I live, so the only one I know).

    I am wondering if DPW thinks of local parties as anything other than minions for their bidding. If all decisions are coming out of Madison. If my job in Wausau is to literally do what I am told.

    My party is not that way, and this set of comments proves it. Thanks for helping me articulate it, if only to myself.

    1. Yeah, it should be clear to anyone who’s paying attention that Kevin Shibilski is very definitely NOT the DPW’s preferred candidate to take on Rep. Sean Duffy.

  14. Better question, is WisGOP going to gerrymander the 7th district so that Dem=leaning Stevens Point and Portage County isn’t a part of it, making the Shibilski question moot?

    One of many reasons to keep our eye on these guys in the last 8 weeks they have complete power.

    1. That’s a good point. I hear that one of the reasons Sheldon Wasserman was considering not running against State Sen. Alberta Darling was because of the very real possibility he’d be gerrymandered out of that district, as he lived just one block inside the district.

      1. I have no doubt that if Darling somehow holds on to her seat, they’ll gerrymander the heck out of that to have her River Hills mansion be the south edge of the district, and they’ll shoot it up into SykesWorld further into Ozaukee and Washington Counties.

        On the other side of this, if the WisGOPs try to safen up Duffy’s seat, they pretty much have to give away any chance of Kind’s seat, because they’d probably give Sean from the Real World the GOP-leanijng exurbs of the Twin Cities that currently are in Kind’s district.

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