Draino Thu Mar-29-07 10:36 PMWithout knowing who the source is I wouldn't normally give a rumor like this much credence, but I heard a slightly more elaborate version a day or two ago, so it's clearly making the rounds inside the party. Assuming, if only for the sake of entertainment, that's it's true, there are some interesting ramifications.
Kathleen Falk to run for DPW Chair?
Word on the Capitol Square is that Joe Wineke is out and Kathleen Falk has been anointed for DPW Chair. The Big Divider now wants to be a Uniter.
It's questionable whether a candidate who couldn't carry her own county in a statewide race is the best choice to lead the party. Nonetheless, if Jim Doyle has given his blessing, it would bode well for Falk's chances.
This might be a smart political move for Falk. She sorely needs to rehabilitate her image after tanking the AG's race in a year when nearly every race fell for Dems. Falk would have a statewide platform to boost her Dem credentials from and more importantly, accumulate prized contacts while fundraising for the party. Raising money is Falk's strong suit. Expect that to be one of the pillars of her campaign for chair if this comes to pass.
The first is that Joe Wineke isn't going to run for reelection. Kathleen would only be running for chair if she was Doyle's candidate, so her run would be coordinated with Joe's retirement. This would also indicate that Senator Lena Taylor, the current first vice-chair, won't be running again.
Draino points out some obvious benefits to Kathleen, but it's not clear to me that things would be that simple. There isn't much of a precedent for a sitting elected official also serving as DPW chair, so presumably Kathleen would step down as Dane County Executive. Due to her AG run she already has her ducks in a row in terms of succession on the County Board, so that transition should be relatively easy. But on the far end it might be more difficult. Serving in such an obviously partisan position as party chair might make it harder to appeal to swing voters in a later run for statewide office. It's certainly been done before, Herb Kohl ran successfully for US Senate after serving as party chair, but he took a fairly long break in between and he has more money than God.
There are some factors that could complicate Kathleen's run for chair. Since she hasn't been very active inside the party, she would likely be seen by many Dems, with some justification, as a carpetbagger. Kathleen would have to work very hard to convince party members that she wasn't using the chair simply as a stepping stone for higher office which, given her history, might be a rather tough sell.
There's also the matter of Peg Lautenschlager. Peg was, and is, far more popular inside the party than Kathleen, and a lot of Democrats are still steamed about the AG primary. Those Dems are unlikely to support Kathleen, but a bigger issue is that Kathleen earned a reputation as someone who divides, rather than unites, the Democratic party. That perception will be difficult to overcome.
But none of this matters if Kathleen is the only candidate for chair, and I haven't heard of anybody willing to risk Doyle's wrath by running against his chosen slate. But if a viable challenger does pop up, watch for a bait and switch routine just the like last time when Linda Honold ran as a popular incumbent, was reelected, then stepped down so Joe could take over. If Joe runs for chair and Kathleen for first vice chair you'll know what's coming...
CORRECTION: I made a mistake in the last paragraph. In 2005 Joe Wineke ran for chair and Linda Honold for first vice chair, not the other way around. Linda did step down shortly after being elected, and Lena Taylor was appointed to the position. Sorry it tool so long to fix this, but Blogger has been down.