Commentary: Recall a victory for brats, olive branches and hope
Our contest bombed unfortunately, but we ain't giving up
By Ellen Foley
Special To Channel 3000
No matter whom you supported June 5, Wisconsin's recall election surprised you.
The media called it at 9:05 p.m., startling everyone, including media commentators like me who were trying to look smart on television but who kept getting interrupted by concession speeches.
"And now to the ballroom where the candidate is ... uh... Is the candidate conceding!?"
Mayor Tom Barrett was slapped by a supporter who was not amused that he conceded early.
When you have this kind of drama at a remote location, no one wants to hear what someone sitting in a Madison studio is saying. It was humbling and a lot of fun.
I was very pleased that Gov. Scott Walker offered a conciliatory tone in his victory speech and invited his friends and foes to a Brat Summit at the residence. We do hope the Walker Administration had read the Foley-At-Large call for more burger nights at Alt n' Bach's Town Tap, but we have no confirmation of that.
While we await another recount in the Racine area to determine if the Democrats or the Republicans have won the Senate majority, Walker's beer and brat invitation was a good olive branch as many tired politicos and faith community leaders pleaded publicly for healing.
My Republican pals do see the victory as a mandate to continue the Walker strategy to shrink government and enhance business prowess. I'm not expecting our governor to stop his campaign to evangelize Wisconsin and other states on his budget priorities.
However, the entire town seems a bit more subdued and a little less cocky. I hope that lasts. The recall was a great opportunity to air many issues. In the end, that painful conversation will bring us closer.
Exit polling told us that many voters did not support the recall of a governor who had not been found guilty of wrong going. It indicates that there are still voters on the fence about our Republican leaders, and my advice to the GOP is to pay attention to that. It could be significant numbers of our neighbors didn't vote for Walker but rather voted against the recall.
Finally, Foley-At-Large offered a free dinner for two to the person who came up with a way to be positive in recall political advertising. No one won.
We got a very nice note from my friend Sharon Kilfoy about a WORT radio program discussing transparency in electioneering. Thanks, Sharon. I'll buy you lunch to get details.
JoAnnNeis Fuchs also posted an appeal for trust rather than a contest entry. She's not a fan of Gov. Walker but she's got an open mind: "I'm in a wait-and-see mode at the moment. I feel our politicians are being bought and paid for by those special interests in both parties," she said. "Campaign reform, like health care reform, are two issues that will not happen as long as big money is being taken by both parties."
John Holcomb, Jr., a local marketing guru and pal, said I didn't ask the contest question correctly and he'll help me next time. I didn't know there was so much science to contests. I say we use Facebook next time.
In the meantime, I figure Wisconsin has another three days of really hot weather to gather our collective breath, and then the fall campaigns will descend. Foley-At-Large will be here to take your comments and help lead our wonderful state back to sanity.
There's hope. If we keep talking to each other, we will find a way.
Ellen Foley is a prize-winning journalist, writer, consultant and entrepreneur in Madison, Wis. She is president of Foley Media Group at foleygroup.wordpress.com. © Copyright Ellen Foley 2012