There is no such thing as “normal” in politics. What is “normal,” anyway, and who defines it?
Whatever “normal” is, it has hit a new low under the Walker regime. Honesty in elections has completely gone out the window. Just check out the Republican strategy for attempting to nab the election in the governor’s race. Instead of running Walker on his record of being a dismal failure when it comes to job creation, education, health care, workers rights and the environment, Republicans decided to rig the system. They have openly admitted to running fake candidates in the Democratic primaries, and are urging their followers to vote for those fakes. In fact, Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), state chairman of ALEC, went so far as to announce the GOP strategy by recently stating, “We are encouraging Republicans to vote in the Democratic primaries.” Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) is also down with the GOP game: “There’s nothing to keep the Republicans from messing around” he said when talking about the Democratic primary. The GOP-planted fake candidates are not campaigning, have not shown up for forums or debates, and are not receiving any funding. They are simply listed on the ballot. The Republican Party also ran six fake candidates in last summer’s recall election.
But take note! There’s one candidate who’s attempting to inject integrity into the Republican primary. Arthur Kohl-Riggs, also known as “Honest Art,” is on the May 8 ballot. His presence there might persuade Walker supporters to vote for Walker in the Republican primary, rather than trying to tamper with the Democratic primary. Art, whose candidacy in the Republican primary was endorsed by The Cap Times, is a self-described “progressive Republican” running in the tradition of Abe Lincoln and Robert La Follette, with an aim at taking the Party back to its progressive roots. In a recent article, Matthew Rothschild noted that “Kohl-Riggs is running a campaign on clean money” with his decision to not accept donations to his campaign of over $100. Art’s campaign war chest totals $2,045, compared with Walker’s $13,000,000.
The Cap Times put it this way: “In the Republican gubernatorial primary, Walker is opposed by a young veteran of the Capitol demonstrations of the past year: Arthur Kohl-Riggs. Some in the media dismiss Kohl-Riggs as a mere protest candidate. But he is more than that. His platform recalls the best of the Grand Old Party’s progressive tradition. Walker’s massive campaign spending — and the massive spending on his behalf by out-of-state interests — have made him the dominant player in the Republican Party at this point. But his ethical and legal challenges are such that responsible Republicans and independents who vote in the GOP primary will want to send a signal about returning their party to its honorable roots. A vote for Kohl-Riggs sends that signal.”
While Scott Walker has been “crisscrossing the country, hob-knobbing with the wealthy and the famous” and “mingling with the corporate elite and top Republicans at a fundraiser co-sponsored by Koch Industries,” attending fundraising parties thrown by Grover Norquist and Hank Greenberg, Kohl-Riggs, operating on a shoestring, has been crisscrossing the state to deliver his message to voters who, after listening to him speak, describe him as “refreshing” and a “very genuine” candidate. He has granted many media interviews as well as participated in candidate forums with the Democratic and Independents candidates. He even personally visited Governor Walker’s office to invite him to a debate.
Acting as accomplices to the Republican Party’s sleazy campaign strategy are certain mainstream media news outlets, which often characterize Kohl-Riggs as something less than a genuine candidate for governor. He was recently described as “a colorful spoiler who apparently has modeled his campaign on fake or protest Democrats supported by the Republican Party.” Another reporter characterized him as a “political agitator running against Gov. Scott Walker.” The Wisconsin State Journal, which touts itself as a place to “learn about the primary candidates” describes Kohl-Riggs this way on its Recall Voter Guide: “Running as a Republican but was a frequent anti-Walker protester during the collective-bargaining controversy last year.” They make no mention of Kohl-Riggs’ platform of election reform, education reform, clean and open government, workers rights, clean energy and healthcare.
No matter who voters decide to cast a ballot for in the May 8 primaries, no one can argue with the fact that Arthur Kohl-Riggs has the most original and downright fun campaign anyone has seen in a long time. The young candidate, who wears a Lincoln top hat when out shaking hands and kissing babies, has a television ad running for the next couple of days — “The Most Interesting Republican In The World” — a parody ad patterned after a Dos Equis commercial. His playful campaign slogans cut to the chase: “Art for Gov: Not currently the subject of an ongoing John Doe investigation!” and “Art for Gov. The Real Republican.” Nationally renowned comic artist J. Andrew World has even included the Kohl-Riggs candidacy in his comic strip, Right About Now.
This Tuesday, May 8, don’t fake it. Vote for the candidate whose values most closely align with yours, and whose positions on the issues will most benefit our state.
“The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” — Abraham Lincoln