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


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.


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