The Anti-Sensenbrenner Vendetta Continues
You really get the idea that it must be personal between some members of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner. Otherwise, there's really no way to rationally explain today's truly out-of touch editorial endorsing Sensenbrenner's opponent, Jim Burkee, in Tuesday's GOP primary!
JIm Sensenbrenner has represented one of the country's most solidly conservative Congressional Districts since 1978. While he frequently irritates the mainstream media (and occasionally his colleagues) by standing up for conservative principles, he's overwhelmingly popular in Wisconsin's Fifth Congressional District.
In 2004, Sensenbrenner crushed his Democratic challenger Bryan Kennedy by over 140,000 votes (67% to 32%). In 2006, a year where things went about as badly as could possibly be imagined for Republicans, Sensenbrenner again defeated Kennedy - this time by over 80,000 votes (62% to 36%). Undoubtedly, tired of being political bear chow, Kennedy opted not to run this year.
In the summer of 2007, two professors at Concordia University, Jim Burkee and Jeff Walz decided to jump into the void. The idea was that Burkee would run as a Republican and Walz would run as a Democrat and that the two would maintain a "joint campaign". However this somwhat kooky plan fell apart last December when Walz bailed on the race leaving Burkee to continue playing Don Quixote - except without his Sancho Panza.
It's always difficult to predict vote percentages in primary elections. My guess though is that if enough Democrats in Waukesha, Ozaukee, Jefferson and Washington Counties decide to turn out and vote in the Republican Primary (because there won't be much, if anything, to vote for on the other side), Burkee might get 30% of the vote. Absent this crossover though, Burkee probably loses 90% to 10%.
So why would the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, which at least imagines itself as speaking for its readers in the Fifth Congressional District, endorse Burkee? For that matter, why did they endorse Bryan ("the 36% solution") Kennedy in 2006?
I think the answer lies in two words "illegal immigration".
For the last few years, local editorial writers have been absolutely obsessed with advocating various ways to open our borders to illegal aliens. In many respects, their obsession is grossly out of proportion to the interest the issue generates among the general population. I think the position of the editorial writers is also largely out-of-step with the way the majority of their readers view the matter and certainly way out-of-step with the Republican voters in the Fifth Congressional District.
Nevertheless, since Sensenbrenner doesn't toe the pro-illegal alien line, he's become persona non grata in the eyes of those for whom this issue is the Holy Grail. That's okay though - it's a free country (at least for those here legally).
Anyway, any Republican voter who thinks that Jim Burkee is a superior choice to Jim Sensenbrenner needs to have their head examined. Any editorial writer who thinks that Burkee is a superior choice to Sensenbrenner in a GOP Primary is grinding an ax, nothing more and nothing less.
Sensenbrenner wasn't endorsed by the local newspaper in 2006 - and it didn't make much difference. My guess is that the same scenario will play out next Tuesday.
As a matter of fact, my guess is that Jim Sensenbrenner will still be representing the Fifth Congressional District long after many of the more senior editorial writers at the local newspaper have retired and moved out of state.