Friday, August 31, 2007

No chance, no real campaign

Professor Jim Burkee, a Republican, and professor Jeff Walz, a Democrat, are running for Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner's seat, a seat the congressman has shown no signs of giving up willingly. I take a look at their efforts for a nice-nice campaign in this week's column,

Two candidates for Congress in Wisconsin’s 9th District are attempting to prove that competing politicians from different parties can get along and campaign nicely. Professor Jim Burkee, a Republican, and professor Jeff Walz, a Democrat, are promising to eschew special interest donations and political action committee money. They’re pledging to hold themselves to three terms if elected. And of course, they’re promising not to make any negative attack ads.

It all sounds so nice and wonderful, but these are easy promises for them to make. Why? Because there is no chance of either of them winning.

The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner. Despite a rumor reported in Human Events to the contrary, Sensenbrenner is not likely to retire. As the Sheboygan Press reported, one of Sensenbrenner’s aides indicated the congressman will seek a 15th term. For most of the last 28 years, Republicans have been waiting to succeed Sensenbrenner, only to retire first.

Sensenbrenner is not in any electoral danger, either. The Democrats tried the university professor route with Bryan Kennedy the last two elections only to see Sensenbrenner clean his clock. These guys won’t even cause Sensenbrenner to spend the pennies in his change jar.

So when Walz and Burkee make all these promises about running nice-nice campaigns, it’s because there is nothing at stake for them. There is no chance either one of them is going to win.
The media loves stories like theirs regardless of how silly the whole effort really is. Even Fox News got sucked in. If the media spent as much time covering real campaigns as they do crying about the money being spent and the supposed negativity of the campaigns, we might actually see a discussion of real issues. Instead we get Burkee and Walz.