Doug LaFollette, the now-former Secretary of State in Wisconsin, should be widely regarded as one of the worst and most useless politicians in the state’s history, if not the country’s. For four decades, as Secretary of State, he occupied a broom closet office in the basement of the Capitol with no actual duties, drawing a salary from taxpayers without any significant accomplishments. His only claim to fame was being a distant relative of the progressive Senator Robert La Follette (second cousin, three times removed), which helped him to parlay his family name into the cushiest job in Wisconsin politics.
During his long and lackluster career, Doug LaFollette did nothing for the people of Wisconsin. He failed to champion any significant causes or initiatives.
In 1978, LaFollette managed to win his first election to become Wisconsin’s Secretary of State. After his first term, he failed to secure the nomination for Lieutenant Governor, so in 1982, he took his old job back. He challenged and defeated Vel Phillips, the first woman, and first non-white elected Secretary of State in Wisconsin history, in a primary election. Nowadays, this move would be widely seen as racist, given the historic significance of Phillips’ election. However, LaFollette secured the nomination and went on to win the election and did so every four years.
Except for the Secretary of State races, Doug is otherwise a loser. He lost the race for Wisconsin’s First congressional district twice, first in 1970 and again in 1996, and for US Senate in 1988. Of course, he also failed to win the Democrat primary in the 2012 recall elections
He was so anonymous in that race that he was interviewed by Madison media on the race without the reporter even knowing he was a candidate.
Last week, LaFollette announced his retirement less than 150 days after narrowly defeating Amy Loudenbeck in the November 2022 elections. His retirement reeks of insider deals and Chicago-like politics, as Tony Evers gave the office to Sarah Godlewski, who dropped out of the 2022 Senate race. This move has been widely criticized as a cynical political ploy to reward a political ally and give Sarah something to do until she can run for a more powerful political office. In failing to call for a special election, Tony Evers deprives Wisconsinites of the opportunity to choose their elected officials.
Doug LaFollette represents the worst in Wisconsin politics. He was a lifetime career politician who accomplished nothing, did nothing, and was paid by taxpayers to do it.