Monday, May 20, 2024

Holding Out for a Hero, So We Can Retire the Zero


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Here we are on the threshold of another watershed election year and Wisconsin is, once again, right in the thick of it. Republican Senator Ron Johnson is up for reelection and is the number one target of Democrats across the country. On the other hand, Democrat Governor Tony Evers is up for reelection and the Republicans have a primary battle that will decide who will challenge Evers.

Luckily, Senator Johnson has near unanimous support amongst Wisconsin conservatives, so that’s an easy decision. Attend any GOP function and Johnson is easily the most popular political figure there. 

Unfortunately, the governor’s race has not been so easy because of its fluidity. I want to talk about my journey how and how I arrived to my choice for Wisconsin Governor. I am not writing this to stroke my own ego, but I am certain others have had similar journeys and may still be on the fence. I am simply offering another perspective and perhaps I can offer an infusion of clarity.

First, let me be crystal clear, I am NOT supporting Rebecca Kleefisch for governor. This weas not a quick or easy decision and took a lot of reflection. This has led to the several articles I have written that are critical of the Walker/Kleefisch Administration and critical of Kleefisch and her campaign of ‘inevitability and entitlement,’ and recently, deception.

I am bothered by how she incessantly calls herself the ‘Proven and Tested Conservative.’ Seriously? How can she be proven and tested when she’s NEVER TAKEN A VOTE ON ANY LEGISLATION? *Sigh

Luckily, Kevin Nicholson, Timothy Ramthun, and later Tim Michels, did not drink ‘inevitability’ Kool-Aid and entered the race, against her wishes.  More on that later.

How did I get to this point?

My journey started during the Walker/Kleefisch years and how the earlier reforms seemed to stop, and Wisconsin no longer looked like a priority to the Administration. I was frustrated at the constant missed opportunities like universal school choice, reducing the state income tax, constitutional carry, eliminating minimum Mark-up, etc. We simply stopped leading while Governor Walker had his eye on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

And then there was the albatross of massive school spending increases that all but washed away the Act 10 success. On top of that, the Administration had to basically be forced to sign Right to Work and Prevailing wage.  I’ve posted proof on this in previous columns.  Walker wanted union support in 2010, 2012 and 2014, but flushed their support when he wanted to be President. 

Since the conservative train came to a complete stop, the base was no longer motivated and Walker/Kleefisch lost to the most bottom of the barrel Democrat in the history of Wisconsin. If Walker/Kleefisch had continued to boldly lead Wisconsin, the pot referenda in multiple major counties in 2018 would have had no impact.  The fact is, there was enough Walker fatigue that Tony Evers was able to beat them. And quite noticeably, Becky doesn’t talk about this very important loss on the campaign trail.  Not surprising why. 

Since that loss in 2018, Kleefisch had been busy setting up her future governor run and started to line up supporters across the state. A shrewd move to be sure. Even though I was not excited about the prospect, I was paying attention. I started hearing rumblings that Madison insiders were going to make the idea of ‘Rebecca’s inevitability’ to scare anyone else from running. Speaker Robin Vos went as far as to say there should not be a primary and that Kleefisch ‘had earned’ the nomination.  Really?

Oddly enough, Robin Vos’s endorsement is STILL missing from her public list.

Of course, Kleefisch was doing anything she could to derail Nicholson, their biggest threat at the time.  Nicholson was demonized by Kleefisch, and Scott Walker worked to strong-arm donors into not giving Nicholson any money. 

The ‘fix’ was in, and Marquette Law Polling eventually had Rebecca leading the pack at 32%, Nicholson at 10%, and Ramthun at 3%. But wait, WHAT? After campaigning for over three years, Kleefisch was only at an anemic 32%? Clearly nobody was motivating the base. I was one of them and clearly, I was not alone.

Here we were with three flawed conservative candidates, to choose from. Kleefisch had her Walker Administration and entitlement baggage. Nicholson was still holding some political baggage from 2018 and I feared that the base would not show up for him in November. Finally, Ramthun, who is very likable and smart, would likely be ‘too Conservative’ to win in a purple state like Wisconsin. 

On top of that, they would ALL be FLAT BROKE AFTER THE PRIMARY! Sound familiar? Remember Tommy Thompson 2012 and Leah Vukmir 2018? All would come up short in the general election because they would use all their resources to win the primary and received little to no help from WISGOP.

Enter the non-Politician

Desperately hoping that a viable candidate would enter the race, I basically decided to sit out the primary and just support the winner in November against Evers.  

Then in April, Tim Michels entered the race for Governor. At that moment, us undecideds had another option, an option who had not been in the political fray for nearly two decades. Kleefisch immediately turned her turrets away from Nicholson and immediately toward Michels. This was a sign they were seeing ‘inevitability’ slip away and they needed to react. 

The Michels entry into the race ultimately lead to Kevin Nicholson suspending his campaign because he could not compete with the Michels money and the fact that Kleefisch was able to control the big Wisconsin donors and a majority of Wisconsin ’Snakes & Weasels’. 

The money factor

Let’s get the most important elephant out of the room first. Tim Michels is an unapologetic successful businessman and is the ONLY candidate who has the personal resources to continue the battle through the general election. He can compete against the tsunami of Democrat money that is pouring into Wisconsin as we speak.  

As of this writing, the Kleefisch campaign only has about $640k left. This is a very precarious position to be in.

However, money is only part of the equation and even having a lot of money must be tempered with common sense.

Money is important, but alone does not win elections; otherwise, we would have had Michael Bloomberg taking on President Trump in 2020, and the Democrat Senate nominee in Wisconsin would be Alex Lasry.  If there is no substance, the money does not matter.

Turns out, Tim Michaels has plenty of substance. 

In 2004 Michels had run for US Senate and unfortunately lost to a very popular Russ Feingold in a Presidential year., but he claimed the record for most votes ever for a Republican in Wisconsin History; a record he held until 2012. Clearly he had substance. Incidentally the Walker/Kleefisch team never rose to that level of votes except in the 2012 Recall. 

‘To measure the value of a man, simply count his friends.’

By now, everyone knows that Tim Michels earned the endorsement of President Trump, and judging from the Trump endorsement record, he usually picks a winner. This endorsement immediately brought Kleefisch’s polling numbers down 6% and put Michels 1% ahead of her in a statistical tie. This surge from the non-politician, who had only been campaigning for a few short weeks, was incredibly telling. Many voters who were merely picking Kleefisch as a fallback now had someone worth supporting. Why? SUBSTANCE!

While most endorsements do not move the needle much, if at all, it is notable that Michels also earned the endorsement of Governor Tommy Thompson, arguably more popular than Scott Walker. He also earned the endorsement of Businesswoman and Conservative mega-donor, Diane Hendricks and many others. 

Speaking of endorsements, MOST of the Kleefisch endorsements came long before she had opponents, including law enforcement.  Is she really ‘law enforcement’s choice.’ Hard to say at this point. And let’s not forget her disastrous, knee-jerk, anti-cop, reaction to the Jacob Blake situation, more in line with Tony Evers than Republicans.

On the issues

All three candidates are Conservatives and have similar ideas. All support Universal School Choice, all support lower taxes, all are unapologetically pro-life. There is very little to differentiate them on issues. But there is a difference on approach.

Tim is passionately supportive of Universal School Choice. Have the money follow the student and spearhead competition. It will be one of his main priorities. He understands that we cannot just simply throw money at the problem and hope for success; that is the mentality that got us into trouble today and in the previous administration.

Tim is very supportive of our law enforcement.  He has been very vocal about restoring the public image of law enforcement to encourage more men and women to want to join the force. Wisconsin cities have hundreds, if not thousands of openings and nobody is applying. The negative image has change before we will get even close to adding the ‘1000 cops’ that Kleefisch has proposed.

Tim wants to fix our severely broken criminal justice system. He has said he will fire any district attorneys, like Milwaukee DA, John Chisholm, who allow for ridiculously low bail allowing criminals back on the streets. Kleefisch also talks about firing Chisholm, but he’s been a light bail DA for over 15 years, why didn’t her team fire him when they had the power to do it? It’s not like he just became bad under Evers (shrug).

I can go on and on talking about issues and the differences in approach, but let’s get to the meat of the matter. What puts Michels ahead of the pack? Easy, it is what Wisconsin can do with Tim Michels as governor.

Tim is NOT A POLITICIAN; he did not live his life in preparation for political office. He is not the ‘ultimate debater’ who has the exact right answer for every question all the time. Yes, he does slip up from time to time. Remember? Not a professional politician. 

Besides, it’s not like Tony Evers is a master orator and debater. Tim will do fine. And let’s face it, Scott Walker was an incredibly seasoned politician and still managed to lose to Evers. It’s time to do something different.

Tim Michels is a businessman, and damn good at it. Why does that matter? As we saw with President Trump, being in business helped Trump act, instead of just talk. This allowed the United States to thrive like never before. Tim can take his decades of business experience and apply it to Wisconsin government. 

Tim Michels fulfills many ideals that people look for in a Governor.  He is a veteran who served our country as an Army Ranger; he is an executive of a company that employs over 8000 people nationwide and 3500 right here in Wisconsin.

As he has already shown, his personal wealth means that he doesn’t need and won’t take special interest contributions. None! This means he can’t be bought. In today’s day and age, this makes Tim un-cancellable.

Now the reality check.

Wisconsin is a 50/50 purple state. Tim Michels is the ONLY CANDIDATE who can appeal to non-traditional Republican voters who have sat out many elections over the years. Only recently, those voters came out to support Donald Trump. These are the so-called Reagan Democrats who are largely working-class and union members.

Conservatives need to face it; working-class union votes are extremely important to win this election for both Governor and US Senate.  President Trump changed the party; we are no longer the party of the country club elites. Republicans are the party of working people – including those union workers.

Kleefisch simply cannot compete in that arena with her Walker baggage, but Tim Michels can.

I’m sure these are some of the reasons why Michels immediately surged and continues to hold his own against the inevitable Kleefisch machine that is supported by the Madison ‘Snakes & Weasels’.

In recent weeks Kleefisch has become increasingly desperate and has resorted to negative attacks. With zero evidence, she has lobbed hail-Mary accusations against Michels, ALL LIES! She was the first to do so, because she is seeing ‘inevitability’ slip away.

What I find incredibly perplexing is the fact that Scott Walker has had to swoop in to try to stop Michels. I thought Kleefisch was running as the powerful independent woman. Why does she need validation form a man?

In fact, we have seen so much of Scott Walker lately, I am beginning to wonder, is it Rebecca or Scott who is actually running against Tim Michels?

We know Democrats will drop several Million Dollars into Wisconsin to unseat their arch enemy, Ron Johnson. Choosing the best candidate for Governor is crucial to holding back these attacks.

People are saying I am ‘bashing’ Rebecca Kleefisch with my vetting her record. If it’s the truth, it’s not bashing. Everything I have said can be corroborated. It’s important for voters to make an informed choice, others have vetted Tim Michels, I have now vetted Rebecca Kleefisch. It’s up to you to decide.

Even though I am not supporting Kleefisch or Ramthun, I will NEVER condemn anybody for supporting them.  This is a primary and it should be hard fought. It’s literally the only thing we have in order to see what the candidates are made of, before they suffer the wrath of the Democrats. ALL CANDIDATES MUST BE VETTED!

So, we are left with a difficult choice; do we go with the only candidate who has already lost to Tony Evers, do we go with the hard right conservative who will have difficulty winning in a purple state, or do we go with the successful businessman who is not a traditional politician?

While I will support the winner of the primary, I am unapologetically supporting Tim Michels for Governor. I am thrilled that I have moved to sitting out the primary to having a candidate I am happy to vote for.

I have seen him over the years and have seen him on the campaign trail interacting with voters. He is genuine and will come to the Governor’s office armed with the tools to lead and take action to affect much needed change in Wisconsin.

Experience matters, and just imagine what Wisconsin can accomplish with a leader like Governor Tim Michels. We truly need this Hero in order to Retire the Zero!

Paris Procopis
If Paris is in a room filled with people, you will usually see him front and center talking and laughing with everyone. His effervescent, outgoing personality brings a refreshing change to the sometimes hostile political world. He takes advantage of his private sector relationship management and comedy improv experience to easily engage any size audience, from individuals to thousands. He has always had a passion for all things political and the world around us, and brings a unique and sometimes humorous, perspective. He has been involved in everything from working on individual campaigns to organizing large political rally's. While Paris is a solid Conservative, he takes the time to understand opposing viewpoints. He lives by the mantra, ‘Do not try to change the minds of others as someone else will easily change it back. Just simply state the facts and they may change their own mind, if that happens, you may have an ally for life.’

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